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PAGE 2

A Sermon
by [?]

Let us look at St. Paul’s feeling in this regard. And, in order that we may deprive it of none of its force, let us note first the nature of the truth which he had just been presenting to his disciples, when he follows it with the words of my text:–

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.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

St. Paul, then, had been declaring to the Philippians the idea upon which, so far as it lay with him, his life was constructed, the thing for which he lived, to which the whole conscious effort of his being was directed,–namely, to be in his very nature one with Christ, to become righteous as he is righteous; to die into his death, so that he should no more hold the slightest personal relation to evil, but be alive in every fibre to all that is pure, lovely, loving, beautiful, perfect. He had been telling them that he spent himself in continuous effort to lay hold upon that for the sake of which Christ had laid hold on him. This he declares the sole thing worth living for: the hope of this, the hope of becoming one with the living God, is that which keeps a glorious consciousness awake in him, amidst all the unrest of a being not yet at harmony with itself, and a laborious and persecuted life. It cannot therefore be any shadow of indifference to the truth to which he has borne this witness, that causes him to add, “If in anything ye be otherwise minded.” It is to him even the test of perfection, whether they be thus minded or not; for, although a moment before, he has declared himself short of the desired perfection, he now says, “Let as many of us as are perfect be thus minded.” There is here no room for that unprofitable thing, bare logic: we must look through the shifting rainbow of his words,–rather, we must gather all their tints together, then turn our backs upon the rainbow, that we may see the glorious light which is the soul of it. St. Paul is not that which he would be, which he must be; but he, and all they who with him believe that the perfection of Christ is the sole worthy effort of a man’s life, are in the region, though not yet at the centre, of perfection. They are, even now, not indeed grasping, but in the grasp of, that perfection. He tells them this is the one thing to mind, the one thing to go on desiring and labouring for, with all the earnestness of a God-born existence; but, if any one be at all otherwise minded,–that is, of a different opinion,–what then? That it is of little or no consequence? No, verily; but of such endless consequence that God will himself unveil to them the truth of the matter. This is Paul’s faith, not his opinion. Faith is that by which a man lives inwardly, and orders his way outwardly. Faith is the root, belief the tree, and opinion the foliage that falls and is renewed with the seasons. Opinion is, at best, even the opinion of a true man, but the cloak of his belief, which he may indeed cast to his neighbour, but not with the truth inside it: that remains in his own bosom, the oneness between him and his God. St. Paul knows well–who better?–that by no argument, the best that logic itself can afford, can a man be set right with the truth; that the spiritual perception which comes of hungering contact with the living truth–a perception which is in itself a being born again–can alone be the mediator between a man and the truth. He knows that, even if he could pass his opinion over bodily into the understanding of his neighbour, there would be little or nothing gained thereby, for the man’s spiritual condition would be just what it was before. God must reveal, or nothing is known. And this, through thousands of difficulties occasioned by the man himself, God is ever and always doing his mighty best to effect.