Philippians 3:1
Finally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord. The key-note of the Epistle still recurs.

I. THE NATURE OF JOY IN THE LORD. It is to make him the object of our joy:

1. For what he is in himself, the God of love and light and blessing.

2. For what he is to us:

(1) our Preserver (Psalm 46:1, 2);

(2) our Redeemer (Hebrews 2:18; Psalm 27:1);

(3) our God (Hebrews 8:10).

The world rejoices in creation and sees no joy in God, but the believer finds the joy of the Lord to be his strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

II. THE DUTY OF REJOICING IN THE LORD.

1. It is a commanded duty.

2. Christ prays for it. (John 17:13.)

3. The Holy Spirit works it in us. (John 16:7; Galatians 5:22.)

4. It is necessary to the fullness of our Christian experience.

(1) As lessening our love of the world and of sinful pleasures (Psalm 4:7; Psalm 84:10).

(2) As making us more active in the Lord's service (Deuteronomy 28:47; Nehemiah 8:10).

(3) As supporting us under the weight of troubles (1 Peter 1:7, 8).

III. HOW WE OUGHT TO REJOICE IN THE LORD.

1. We ought to live above the world. (2 Corinthians 4:18.)

2. We ought to avoid everything inconsistent with this joy.

(1) Gross sins (2 Corinthians 1:12).

(2) Unbelieving thoughts.

3. We ought to cherish a constant trust in the Lord. (Hebrews 13:6; Isaiah 55:7; Isaiah 49:13, 14. See hints on Philippians 4:1.) - T.C.







Finally, my brethren
1. What were the things not irksome and safe?

(1)Counsels in some lost Epistles.

(2)Messages delivered by word of mouth through his delegates.

(3)Earlier verbal communications.

(4)Something in the Epistle.The latter probably referring —(a) to the main topic of the letter — rejoicing, or making their boast in Christ; or(b) to their dissentions, a reference in the making of which he was interrupted. Each supplies a good sense. In the first case he proposes to dwell once more on that which will be the sure antidote to false pride, in the other he will add some further counsels respecting their dissensions.

2. Since the apostle seems to be about to conclude, what occasioned the interruption? Probably some outbreak of Jewish proselytism respecting which he warns the Philippians in plain language. At the word "concision" he enters on a fresh line of thought which occupies the rest of the chapter.

I. HE AFFIRMS THAT HE AND HIS GENTILE BRETHREN HAVE THE MOST VALID CLAIM TO WHAT THE JEWS SO DEARLY PRIZED. "We are the circumcision." He justifies his assertion by describing —

1. The nature of their worship. The one essential thing in worship is its spirit. The kind of worship the proselytizers offered rested largely on forms. If the form were only according to their pattern it was enough. The apostle, on the contrary, takes his stand on the requirement of our Lord: "God is a spirit," etc. Heart, not hand, lip, knee worship was the main thing, and in this respect they and he were more in harmony with the purpose of circumcision than those who submitted to the rite.

2. The ground of their trust. They rested in position rather than privilege. Circumcision was the sum of Jewish privilege. It was the main thing about which the Jews boasted. But their high privilege had not led them to a high morality, but had been made a cloak for sin. In contrast with this Paul puts Christian conduct. Christians rejoiced, or made their boast, in Christ Jesus, and had no confidence in the flesh. They looked to Him as the fulfiller of all righteousness for us and the example of all righteousness in us. Theirs was a prideless pride.

II. HE ARGUES WITH THE JEW ON HIS OWN GROUND. The ground of their boasting might well be his as regards —

1. Inherited privileges.(1) The Jews make much of circumcision and the time of its performance. If before the eighth day it is nothing; if after, of less value. That, then, which the strictest Jews demand is true of me.(2) They also talk of the old stock. I belong to it.(3) They pride themselves on their tribe. What will compare with mine?(4) Nay, more; scattered among the Gentiles, exposed to taint, to loss of language and custom, yet my ancestors remained pure in every sense. I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.

2. Personal acts.(1) What of the law? I belonged by choice to the separated sect.(2) What of zeal? These men are making much of that; but did not I persecute the Church?(3) And as for righteousness, when was I a defaulter?

3. Here surely was ground for boasting had he been so disposed. But —

III. THE WHOLE OF THESE MOST COVETED THINGS HE NOW COUNTS LOSS. He relinquished them all to win Christ. He changes the figure. He had been speaking of gain and loss; he now speaks of entering on a race.

1. He divests himself of all self-righteous robes. He felt himself disqualified for the contest in any such dress.

2. He desires to lay firmest hold of Christ.

3. He seeks to feel the full meaning of the resurrection power, the propulsion to a higher and nobler purpose.

4. He asks to share the sufferings of Christ. Note this, inasmuch as many talk as though the sufferings of Christ had dispensed with their own.

5. He would be fashioned to the likeness of His death.

6. And so he would reach the goal — resurrection, i.e., complete newness of life through Christ Jesus. Conclusion:This delineation has its practical bearing on ourselves.

1. It puts privileges in their true place. They increase our obligation to serve God.

2. External religiousness is put in its right place.

3. We are shown where we shall only find the true safeguard against modern delusions on religious questions — in Christ.

(J. J. Goadby.)

Rejoice in the Lord
He who would rejoice in the Lord must —

I.BEWARE OF ERROR (vers. 1-3).

II.RENOUNCE ALL AND TRUST IN CHRIST ONLY (vers. 4-8).

III.EMBRACE THE FULNESS OF CHRIST (vers. 9-11).

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. REJOICE IN THE LORD is the text of the whole chapter. After a long chapter on the suppression of self and the absorption of every faculty in the service of Christ, here seems to be the reward. Observe —

1. It is "in the Lord." There are two estates of men, "in the flesh," and "in the Lord." To be in the latter estate is to possess all that can minister to happiness. So we are here reminded that we can command our own happiness. It is enforced as a duty. Joy is a feeling that ranges over all life and time. It remembers from what it has been rescued; it rejoices in present security; it hopes for more than it can conceive in the future.

2. But if the Christian is seduced from Christ the joy departs, and gives place to a deeper desolation than the soul has ever known. It was this danger that the apostle dreaded, arising from two errors; one doctrinal, which would teach them to cease to trust in Christ alone: another practical, which would make them selfish and carnal, and so enemies of the Cross.

II. CHRISTIAN REJOICING "DEFENDED AGAINST ITS JUDAIZING" ENEMIES. The apostle bids the Philippians beware of the dogs, evil workers, concision, suggestive phrases, the last implying that circumcision having served its purpose had become dishonoured as well as disused; the word was now but a synonym of a Christian profession (Colossians 2:11; Romans 2:29). Those were the true circumcision who —

1. Worship God in the spirit, i.e., they offer a worship which is ordered, prompted, released from ceremony and made acceptable by the Spirit of God.(1) The Holy Ghost is the Master of all Christian worship.(2) The object of that worship or service is included in the term and not expressed (Romans 9:4; Acts 26:1.-7; Romans 12:1).(3) The worship presented is "in spirit and in truth," because the communism of man's spirit with God through the indwelling spirit (Romans 8:26; Jude 1:20) is His own temple. But this must be external also. The word "circumcision" indicates the fellowship of those who, by this symbolic rite, were dedicated to God. And Christian public worship is the common spiritual homage of men who are serving God in their spirits while they are serving Him in His house.(4) But the Spirit unites no human spirit to God which is not holy; and so the cutting off of sin was what circumcision always signified (Romans 2:29).

2. Rejoice in Christ Jesus, i.e., confide or glory. They have learned that circumcision has given place to baptism; but they put trust in neither. They trust only in Christ, and as they trust they glory.

3. Have no confidence in the flesh.(1) In the fleshly ordinance which cannot be retained without dishonouring Christ.(2) In the "fleshly," i.e., personal and national prerogatives of the circumcised members of the old covenant. They renounced Judaism with all its advantages.(3) In anything that human nature can do to win the Divine favour.

(W. D. Pope, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO REJOICE? Delight is the soul's acquiescence, or resting itself, in what it apprehends to be good. There is a two-fold delight.

1. Bodily or sensitive called pleasure, which proceeds from some impression made by a suitable object upon the senses. Of which note —(1) This in itself is not sinful, because both the sense and the object and the suitableness of them were all made by God.(2) Hence it is permitted by God (Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 5:19).(3) But corrupt man is too apt to sin in these sensitive pleasures, either —

(a)in the unlawful object (Psalm 62:4),

(b)or in the manner by excessiveness (Jude 1:12).

2. Rational or spiritual joy, seated in the soul itself.

II. WHAT IS IT TO REJOICE IN THE LORD?

1. God was pleased at first to order the soul of man so that it bad a natural tendency and suitableness to the nature of God.

2. But the soul being disordered by sin is apt to rejoice in nothing but externals.

3. It is therefore God's will that we labour after our primitive perfections and joys, so as to delight ourselves —(1) In Him as God and our God (Psalm 28:7; Deuteronomy 12:12, 18).(2) In His —

(a)works (Psalm 104:31);

(b)Word (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:103);

(c)properties; goodness (Luke 18:19); mercy; justice; power (Psalm 63:5-7); wisdom; truth; omnipresence.

III. HOW DOTH IT APPEAR THAT WE OUGHT AND MAY THUS REJOICE?

1. From Scripture.(1) God commands it (Psalm 32:11; Philippians 4:4).(2) Christ prays for it (John 17:13).(3) This is one great end of His promises (Romans 15:4).(4) It is one great end of the ministry (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15; 2 Corinthians 1:24).(5) It is the end of Christ's sending the Spirit (John 16:7). The Spirit comforts us by —

(a)Renewing us.

(b)Convincing us it is our duty (John 16:9).

(c)Witnessing our adoption (Galatians 4:6).

(d)Blessing His ordinances to us.

(e)Bringing and directing us to Christ for it (John 14:26).

(f)Weaning us from fleshly delights.

(g)Powerfully working comfort in us (Galatians 5:22).

2. From reason. We should rejoice because —(1) God hath given us that power.(2) There is nothing in this world that we can have any solid joy in, because not suitable to the soul.(3) There is none but God we can rationally rejoice in.

3. But doth not God sometimes command us to mourn? (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Isaiah 22:12; Joel 2:12-13).

(1)This sorrow consists not in abstaining from spiritual but natural joy.

(2)It maketh way for spiritual joy.

(3)It should be accompanied with it (Psalm 2:11).

IV. Uses.

1. Information.(1) Observe God's goodness to His creatures in making it their duty to rejoice.(2) The privilege of Christians above all others (John 16:22).(3) The false calumny that is laid on holiness as depriving us of joy (John 14:1).(4) Our misery is all from ourselves (Hosea 13:9).(5) In the excellency of Christian joy above all others; it is in the Lord.

2. Exhortation: Rejoice.(1) Consider the necessity. God commands it for His glory and the credit of religion.(2) Consider the excellency, above all other joy.

(a)It is spiritual, the joy of the soul (Psalm 33:21).

(b)Pure and unmixed (Proverbs 14:13).

(c)Easy and cheap.

(d)Real and true

(e)Universal in respect of time, place, and condition.

(f)Surpassing (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

(g)Well grounded; on God's mercy and Christ's merits (1 Peter 1:8).

(h)Full and satisfying (John 17:13; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15).(3) Consider this excellency in its nature.

(a)In the cause: God; the Father, the Son (John 17:13), the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

(b)In the subject; the soul (Luke 1:46-47).

(c)The object; the chiefest good.

(d)The end: the glory of God as the ultimate, the good of man the subordinate.

(e)The effects. It will destroy our sinful joy (Psalm 16:11); lessen our esteem of the world (Psalm 4:7); enlarge our hearts and make them more capacious of heavenly things; facilitate all duties (Nehemiah 8:10; Deuteronomy 28:47); make us long more alter heaven (Psalm 119:20); support us in our afflictions (1 Peter 1:6-8); defend us against temptations.

V. MEANS AND DIRECTIONS.

1. Labour after a right know ledge of God (Psalm 9:10).

2. Endeavour to get an interest in Him.

3. Get thy evidences clear and keep them so (Job 19:25; Psalm 27:1).

4. Convince thyself it is thy duty to rejoice.

5. Live above the temperature of the body.

6. Study well the nature of justification (Romans 4:5; Romans 5:1).

(1)Christ was made sin for us;

(2)and we righteous in Him.

7. Have frequent recourse to the promises (Hebrews 13:5-6).

8. Let the eye of faith be constantly fixed on the attributes of God (Isaiah 45:24; Psalm 57:1, 7).

9. Have a care of what will damp thy joys.

(1)Wilful sins.

(2)Nice questions about election.

(3)Dark providences (Ecclesiastes 9:1).

10. Often meditate on a Christian's privileges.

(1)That He hath God for His Father and portion.

(2)Christ for his Advocate (1 John 2:1).

(3)All things working for His good (Romans 8:28).

(4)A kingdom provided for him (John 14:1-2).

VI. OBJECTIONS.

1. My sins are many and great. Answer:

(1)God's mercies are more and greater (Isaiah 55:7).

(2)So are Christ's merits (Hebrews 7:25).

(3)So are the promises (Ezekiel 18:21-22).

2. My corruptions are strong. Answer:

(1)They are not too strong for God.

(2)Christ came to subdue them.

(3)God has promised to subdue them (Hebrews 10:16; Ezekiel 36:2.5-27).

3. The devil oft tempts me. Answer:

(1)So he did Christ.

(2)

I. Its NATURE. The joy of faith — felt not seen — yet real and solid.

II. Its SOURCE AND SECURITY. Christ supplies — sustains it.

III. Its PERPETUITY. it is an apostle's last injunction — must endure forever.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The chapter contains a general exhortation to several duties. This verse tells you how to do them — "rejoicing."

I. THE APPELLATION — "Brethren." By loving compellation he labours to enter into their hearts. If exhortation comes from the pride of man, the pride of man will beat it back. Why are Christians brethren?

1. They have the same beginning of life from the same Father; the same common brother Christ; the same food, the Word of God; the same promises and inheritance.

2. The word is indicative of equality. This should fill up the valleys of hearts dejected here in regard to mean estates; as also pull down the mountains of proud hearts.

3. It is a name of dignity belonging to the heirs of heaven.

4. It is a word of love.

II. THE EXHORTATION.

1. It is the Christian's duty to rejoice. It is commanded here.

2. It is reasonable that they should rejoice. They are free from the spiritual Egypt; why should they not sing as the delivered Israelites. They have peace with God and an assured hope.

3. It belongs only to Christians to rejoice. Others have neither cause nor commandment to do so.

III. THE LIMITATION — "In the Lord."

1. In whom? Christ is our Lord —

(1)By gift. God has given us all to Him.

(2)By conquest. He hath gotten the victory over Satan for us.

(3)By marriage.

2. How?

(1)By adherence to Him. We must rest contented with Him as our only and sufficient joy.

(2)Obedience to His laws; delighting in them.

IV. THE MEANS.

1. Faith. It is the sense of our reconciliation that makes us rejoice (Romans 5:2; 1 Peter 1:6). Whatever strengthens or weakens faith, strengthens or weakens joy.

2. Peace. Whatever disturbs our peace disturbs our joy.

3. Prayer. Pray that your joy may be full.

4. Christian communion. As the two disciples' hearts did burn within them when they talked with Christ.

V. QUESTIONS.

1. Why, then, are God's children sorrowful?(1) Their sorrow proceeds from the want of the perfections necessary to make them absolute Christians indeed.(2) They do not adorn their profession, and so God hides the comfortable presence of His Spirit.(3) The sorrow may only be apparent, for their joy is a hidden joy. The feast is kept in the conscience and not always manifest.(4) While they live here they have ever a mixture of joy and grief to temper one another.

2. Is not the Christian fuller of sorrow than of joy? If so, it arises from ignorance of the grounds of comfort or from want of application of them. Let him then —(1) Compare all discomforts with the joy he may have, and he will find that it countervails a world of sorrow, for it is endless, and one day will be full.(2) Take heed of the hindrances of this joy. Sins committed and not repented (1 Chronicles 2:7).(3) Take heed of negligence in good duties and to do them thoroughly.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

Evangelical religion is often charged with making men gloomy, averse to sharing the innocent pleasures of life, and thus has been made repulsive to the young especially. The charge finds some support in the demeanour of many Christians in whom, from defective views of duty, the gospel is not permitted to exert its sweetening power. By such religion is grievously misrepresented. Jesus was "the man of sorrows" because He bore the world's guilt; but when the bitter work was over He was "anointed with the oil of gladness." Christians ought to share this. Being "in the Lord" they should be full of gladness.

I. TO THE UNREGENERATE MAN CHRISTIAN JOY IS UNINTELLIGIBLE. It belongs to a sphere with which he has no acquaintance. He sees the restraints which religion imposes, but of its blessed communion with God he sees nothing. Its hopes to him are visionary. He cannot think the yoke of Jesus to be easy.

II. TO THE TRUE CHRISTIAN THIS JOY IS REASONABLE, and even when he is not happy he feels he ought to be.

1. It springs from love to Christ. Out in the world we find Marahs; its springs are full of bitterness. In Christ. "with joy we draw water from the wells of salvation."

2. The citizens of the spiritual Zion may well be joyful in their King. What city is like ours? Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth. God hath called her walls Salvation and her gates Praise. Prosperity is within her palaces. Through her midst flows the river of life, and there is the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. The King abides amongst us. To all our petitions His ear is open; to all our wants His bounteous hand. His service is glorious liberty.

3. We have perfect security. No power can pluck us out of our Saviour's hand; for with His infinite goodness is conjoined an infinite grossness.

4. In the contemplation of providence there is an unfailing source of joy. The natural satisfaction which outward comforts bring is pervaded and glorified by the thankfulness of hearts rejoicing in their Father's goodness. Anxiety, pain, and bereavement may be appointed to us, but that they are a Father's appointment will prevent despondency and maintain peace.

5. Innocent enjoyments have a new charm "in the Lord." He who began His miracles by contributing to social pleasure, changes the common into the noble and refreshing. Friendship has one added sweetness, nature a new and glorious beauty, and study a satisfaction altogether peculiar, now that intellectual improvement is felt to be polishing a shaft for the Master's quiver.

6. Next to the ineffable delight of seeing Jesus as His Saviour is the delight which fills the believer's heart in helping others to see Him as theirs.

III. THE REASONS WHY MANY CHRISTIANS HAVE LITTLE OF THIS JOY are various. In some it is due —

1. To temperament. Of this class the Apostle Thomas may be taken as a type. In many, the nervous tendency to religious melancholy developes insanity, as in the case of Cowper. The care of a physician and the watchful love of friends may be of service to joyless Christians.

2. To defective apprehension of the fulness and freeness of the gospel. The glorious liberty has been so little understood that while living in the air of freedom many have fallen back into "the spirit of bondage again to fear."

3. To feeble spirituality and indulgence in sin. Worldliness, like a killing parasite, has wreathed itself round the energies of the soul. The pleasures of life have stolen away the time from duty. Mists rise from a mind cherishing sinful desire and hide the face of God. We know why David had to pray, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation." And all that is well, and it is to be hoped that this gloom is the harbinger of repentance, and the opening of his heart to the Sun of Righteousness.

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

The greatest painter — at least one of the greatest painters — of the devoutest period of the Middle Age, a man who, as men said, used to kneel and pray till the angels came to him to be painted, whose works, as they adorn the walls of Florence, open up to us a world we had hardly dreamt of before, — that greatest of painters — Fra Angelieo da Fiesole — in some of his most beautiful pictures, has, amidst a multitude of exquisitely pencilled faces combined in groups, made each face of varying expression, but each expressive gaze of joy and thankfulness steadily fixed upon one central figure — the figure of the Redeemer.

(Knox Little.)

You go out on a bright spring morning into the green fields, you hear above you a voice that thrills you through with pleasure; you don't see anything distinctly; but from the clouds there comes a warbling note, a rising splendour of music, as the lark ascends towards heaven. There is in every cadence the outwelling of an unconscious, yet real, joy. It is a parable of God's working. The little creature, as she ascends and sings, sings and ascends, is simply proclaiming the truth that was seen in the life of Jesus: joy is a power to exalt.

(Knox Little.)

We ought not to seek too high joys. We may be bright without transfiguration. The even flow of constant cheerfulness strengthens; while great excitements, driving us with fierce speed, both rack the ship, and end often in explosions. If we were just ready to break out of the body with delight, I know not but we should disdain many things important to be done. Low measures of feeling are better than ecstasies for ordinary life. God sends his rain in gentle drops, else flowers would be beaten to pieces.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The duty is an important one. The tone of the apostle here and elsewhere brings this out very clearly. Nothing is more calculated to commend the gospel to those around us, than proof that its influence on the hearts which receive it is to make them bright and happy. This commendation is, of course, specially impressive where outward circumstances are of a kind naturally tending to sadden. When, in deep poverty, or on a bed of pain, a Christian is contented, calm, joyous, there is here "an epistle of Christ" written in letters so large and fair, that even careless observers can hardly help reading its testimony to the reality and potency of Divine grace. Where the lights of this world have been in so large a measure withdrawn, it must be plain that such brightness of heart can come only through a beam of sunshine straight from heaven to that heart. For the spiritual progress of the believer himself, too, it is of very much moment that he "rejoice in the Lord." Nehemiah's statement holds true for all time: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." We know the power of happiness, of a genial, buoyant spirit, in carrying forward the ordinary work of life. In the work of the spiritual life — resistance to temptation, and earnest labour for the Master — there is no sustaining power to be compared with joy. Walking in darkness, enveloped in spiritual gloom, we move slowly, stumble, fall. In the sunshine, we press forward with bounding step in the way of God's commandments, "running, and net weary"; wherefore, "O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord."

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

To write the same things to you
That can never be too much taught which cannot be too well learned. By learning the same things often —

I. DULL AND UNEXPERT UNDERSTANDINGS ARE MUCH HELPED.

II. YOU ARE STIRRED UP INTO GREATER WARINESS THAN OTHERWISE YE WOULD.

(H. Airay, D. D.)Dwelling on the same things is necessary even for the best Christians, because —

I. TRUTH IS SUPERNATURAL, AND OUR MINDS ARE CARNAL. That therefore which is to keep our changeful minds must be assiduous, or else our minds will sink into their first estate.

II. WE OFTEN DISREGARD THE TRUTH AT THE FIRST, SECOND, OR THIRD PRESENTATION (Job 33:14).

III. THERE IS SUCH A BREADTH AND DEPTH IN THE WORD OF GOD, THAT ALTHOUGH WE OFTEN HEAR THE SAME THING WE NEVER COME TO UNDERSTAND THE FULL EXTENT. Our souls are narrow. Spiritual meat requires digestion, and therefore repetition.

IV. CORRUPTIONS AND WORLDLY BUSINESS TEND TO THRUST OUT THE CONSIDERATION OF THE TRUTH. We cannot have two things in our mind at the same time in strength. Whence it comes to pass that the better being ever subject to be thrust out needs to be hammered in with often repetition.

V. OUR MEMORIES ARE VERY WEAK TO RETAIN ANYTHING THAT IS GOOD. Good things sink through them as water through a sieve; there is need therefore of remembrances. After this manner God hath dealt with man in renewing the promises, and Christ in His parables (Matthew 13), although with variety, teaching ministers to avoid tediousness. Conclusion:

1. Let it not be grievous to ministers to do what is for the safety of God's children. Peter cast often and got nothing, yet at Christ's word he cast again. God, that blesseth not every cast, may bless the cast to the catching of many.

2. If we hear the same things often, let us hear them as an impression which may carry force and work upon our hearts more strongly than before.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

n: —

1. A story we have often heard or read, however fascinating at first, will gradually lose much of its interest. If read for amusement it would be quite out of the nature of things that a book should please us so much on the second or third perusal as on the first: but if read for instruction the case is somewhat altered. We are conscious that many parts are imperfectly mastered, and we do not hesitate to apply ourselves again and again to the study. But even when instruction is the object, a truth which has once settled in our minds will lose its power of gaining our attention.

2. When we pass from human literature to Divine, we carry our dispositions and habits with us, and we shall be tempted to reckon ourselves so well acquainted with certain portions of the Bible as to reckon further study of them superfluous. Now there is no truth of Christianity that will not repay further outlay of time and attention. Whatever our progress, we are only beginners. Yet while the text sets itself against that craving for novelties in religion which is the mark of a mind diseased, it does not circumscribe the range of inquiry. "The same things" were confined to no narrow groove.

I. THE NATURE OF SCRIPTURAL TRUTH DEMONSTRATES THAT REPETITION CAN NEVER BE USELESS. It is a property of the truths of the Bible that the simplest involve the most difficult, while the more sublime and mysterious prove, under some shape or another, the plain and the elementary. It is a simple truth, e.g., that the Eternal Son of God died as the Surety of the lost human race, but you introduce with it a whole library of divinity, for there is not one truth of our religion that is not contained in it — the guilt of sin, the love of God, the Trinity, etc. And if the most elementary doctrine is virtually a summary of the Bible, then to ply men with it is virtually to ply men with the whole system of Christianity. And then if I have the fact that Christ died for sin put continually before me, it is a mistake to suppose that it will always call up the selfsame idea. I shall sometimes view the atonement as demonstrative of Christ's love; sometimes of the greatness of man's sin, etc., etc. And these doctrines derived from the atonement will gain power and clearness from their association with it. And so with the rest.

II. THE AGENCY BY WHICH SCRIPTURAL TRUTH IS EXPOUNDED PROVES THE USEFULNESS OF REPETITION. That agency is the Spirit of God. Hence it comes to pass that a text may have been read or heard a hundred times without making any impression, and yet on the next occasion it may seem charged with electric light and the whole mind within disturbed. And what holds good in conversion holds good for the whole course of Christian experience, and thus the Bible, however diligently studied, is always a new book, and its best known portions instead of being exhausted will often seem to have been indicted again. We have, therefore, an incontrovertible reason why "the same things" should be always useful.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. OFTEN NECESSARY. Men let it slip — fail to improve it.

II. NEVER WEARISOME. It is precious to those who believe it — who deliver it.

III. ALWAYS SAFE. It quickens memory — stirs the heart — provokes effort — and helps to secure salvation.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

It was the Sophists who scoffed at Socrates because he was always teaching "the same things," and in this their mockery of the great heathen teacher they but disclosed their own folly. It was the Romanists in Reformation times who frequently laid to the charge of the Reformers that they were always harping upon the same string. It is a mark of the present day still to show a craving for what is new, and to find that craving too eagerly met and administered to; but as Paul knew, so do all preachers of the doctrines of grace know, that if the Divine Word Himself chose to utter the same truths ofttimes in the same form, they have their ample justification in that example of His which to them is also of necessity precept.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

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