Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Sermons
Christian JoyW.F. Adeney Philippians 4:4
Christian Joy a DutyT. Croskery Philippians 4:4
Christmas PeaceCharles KingsleyPhilippians 4:4
Rejoice EvermoreAlexander MaclarenPhilippians 4:4
Genuine ChurchismD. Thomas Philippians 4:1-6
Various ExhortationsR. Finlayson Philippians 4:1-7
The Life of Joy and PeaceR.M. Edgar Philippians 4:1-9
Rejoicing AlwaysV. Hutton Philippians 4:4, 5
Afraid of JoyH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:4-8
Amusements in the Light of the GospelDr. Colborne.Philippians 4:4-8
Christian CheerfulnessJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Philippians 4:4-8
Christian JoyS. Martin.Philippians 4:4-8
Christian RejoicingC. Girdlestone, M. A.Philippians 4:4-8
Christian RejoicingDean Vaughan.Philippians 4:4-8
Christians Joyful in the LordCanon Chamneys.Philippians 4:4-8
Christ's NearnessMarcus Rainsford.Philippians 4:4-8
Constant Joy in God the Duty of ChristiansN. Emmons, D. D.Philippians 4:4-8
JoyWeekly PulpitPhilippians 4:4-8
Joy a DutyPhilippians 4:4-8
Means of Christian JoyH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:4-8
No Joy in HeathenismH. J. W. Buxton, M. A.Philippians 4:4-8
No Joy in Infidelity or WorldlinessS. Martin.Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoicing in ChristR. J. McGhee, A. M.Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoicing in GodW. Nevins, D. D.Philippians 4:4-8
Spiritual MindednessC. J. Deems, D. D.Philippians 4:4-8
Sunshine: a Talk for Happy TimesMark Guy Pearse.Philippians 4:4-8
The Christian's JoyCanon Liddon.Philippians 4:4-8
The Duty of RejoicingH. Melvill, B. D.Philippians 4:4-8
The Happiness of ReligionPhilippians 4:4-8
The Motive for RejoicingJ. Hutchison, D. D.Philippians 4:4-8
The Oil of JoyT. L. Nye.Philippians 4:4-8
The Sphere of Christian JoyCanon Liddon.Philippians 4:4-8
Three Elements of Christian CharacterJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 4:4-8
Uninterrupted Christian JoyH. Melvill, B. D., C. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 4:4-8
Why Christians are not JoyfulH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoice in the Lord. This sentence is the keynote of the Epistle. The world holds that believers have no joys.

I. BELIEVERS OUGHT TO REJOICE.

1. Because it is a commanded duty. "Rejoice in the Lord."

2. Because, if commanded, it is provided by the Holy Spirit, for it is part of the Spirit's fruit. (Galatians 5:22.)

3. Because joy is characteristic of the Christian. The early Christians "ate their meat with gladness and singleness of heart" (Acts 2:46). This joy is not inconsistent with sorrow. The apostle himself was "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." (2 Corinthians 6:10). "Rejoice with trembling."

II. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY. "In the Lord." The world rejoices in the creature, but the believer rejoices in the Creator of all things.

1. Because the Lord is.

2. Because he is the Portion of his people.

3. Because of all the manifestations of his power, wisdom, and grace.

4. Because the believer hopes for the glory to (Romans 5:2.)

III. THE BELIEVER IS TO CHERISH AN ABIDING JOY. "Rejoice in the Lord at all times." In dark days as well as bright days. A permanent habit of joy is reasonable, when we consider

(1) that there is no change in the Lord, the Source of our joy;

(2) that our relationship to him is unchangeable.

IV. MARK THE EMPHATIC REPETITION OF THE COMMAND. "And again I will say, Rejoice." This attests its importance.

1. Joy is the spring of energy. "A weary heart tires in a mile." A cheerful Christian is usually a very active one. "The joy of the Lord is his strength."

2. It kills the taste for sinful pleasures. It excludes the heart everything it cannot harmonize with itself.

3. It enables the believer to confront persecution. The early Christians" took joyfully the spoiling of their goods."

4. It enhances the charm and influence of Christian life. - T.C.







Rejoice in the Lord alway
I. The keynote of the Epistle and of Christian life is CHEERFULNESS. The repetition here, and the enforcement of the same in other Epistles shows us the importance of this duty.

1. If the Philippians neglected or undervalued this duty they have many imitators today. Some professing Christians set their faces against it, and make the best of days the saddest, the best of books the most forbidding, and the best of services the least inviting. Those who take their cue from these, come to regard sourness and sanctity as synonymous. This is a gross and dishonouring perversion of that which was heralded with notes of joy.

2. It is "in the Lord" that we are to be glad. Christ has brought the materials out of which gladness is made — new and happier thoughts, power, purposes, hopes.

3. The advantages are manifold.(1) To ourselves.(a) Cheerfulness brings us within the charmed circle of the noblest and brightest spirits. Without this we can never enter into the rapture of psalmists and prophets.(b) The perception of cheerfulness nourishes the very cheerfulness it sees. The sun not only reveals and makes the beauty and fragrance of the flower.(2) To others. Nothing breaks down the opposition of men to Christianity like a bright cheering life. It more faithfully represents the true spirit of Christianity. Christ came to make the world glad, and only as we rejoice in and with Him are we true to Him.

4. We are to rejoice alway, which teaches us to cultivate the habit of looking on the bright side, of always being on the look out for compensation, of considering the purposes of difficulties, the lessons of adversity, the Sender of sorrows.

II. FORBEARANCE.

1. In what does this show itself.

(1)In waiving our just rights; not pushing them always to the utmost.

(2)In checking ourselves under provocation: "not returning evil for evil, but contrariwise." This needs large Christian grace.

2. The powerful motive: "the Lord is at hand."

(1)As seeing all.

(2)As soon coming to end our vexations.

III. DEVOUT TRUSTFULNESS.

1. In arguing this (ver. 7), the apostle does not teach us to have no care and let everything drift, but not to be full of care. Whilst we are ordering our affairs with discretion, we must not be over anxious. The Lord is at hand. His Providence will be equal to all emergencies. Do your best, and leave the issue to Him.

2. Let prayer be your antidote to worry. God knows what is best. Submit to His will, thankful for His many mercies. Gratitude is a condition of successful prayer

3. The grand issue — the peace of God.(1) Its channel — He in whom we have to rejoice.(2) Its character.

(a)God-like.

(b)Transcending every effort of the mind to grasp it.(3) Its effect. To stand sentry and keep guard over the heart and mind.

(J. J. Goadby.)

I. A FACT STATED. "The Lord is at hand," may apply either to time or place. He is coming, and till He comes to wipe away our tears, to raise our dead, and fill us with glory, He is, in the meantime, our solace in trials, conflicts, difficulty and danger, our light in darkness, and our triumph in death. We greatly wrong Him to conceive of Him as above the stars. He is very nigh His people, the shade on their right hand. Let us therefore walk circumspectly, and let nothing cast us down. Let also our enemies beware.

II. THE COMMAND GROUNDED ON THE FACTS.

1. "Rejoice in the Lord alway."(1) How little there is of this amongst us. Yet the Lord is at hand that we may rejoice in Him as a Refuge, a Support, a Friend(2) The all-sufficient ground of this rejoicing. There is nothing "in Him" that is not an occasion for joy, life; righteousness, abounding grace. There is nothing our souls can want, our hope desire, our happiness need, our immortality grasp, that is not laid up in Him.(3) There is no true joy that does not find its spring in Him.(4) This joy is perennial — whatever be our times, or circumstances, it is our privilege to rejoice.

2. "Let your moderation," etc. When the eye has once seen, the ear heard, the heart occupied with Christ, all other matters take a subordinate position. The attractions of the world are nothing, its anxieties are lost in the. comfort of His love, and its entanglements cannot keep us from resting in His bosom. Sit, then, loosely to the things around you. Let men see that you have a better portion, and know by your forbearance, gentleness, and moderation, that the things that once occupied you are now quite secondary. What matter if other things fade from your grasp, if the presence of the Lord is realized in your soul.

3. "Be careful for nothing."(1) There is no need for this care. Think of the eye ever watching you, the arm around you.(2) Be not full of care; it does not mean be indifferent to the concerns of life, but be not anxious. The Lord is at hand; He will provide. There is nothing in God, in ourselves, in the world, or in Satan that we need be careful for.

4. "In everything by prayer," etc. He is beside you, and you rob yourself of a great privilege if you keep back anything. Pour out your heart, only "with thanksgiving." Don't murmur. Thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and will do.

III. THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, which is conditional on the keeping of the commands. "The peace of God," etc.! Christ has made peace with God.

2. This peace must be apprehended and enjoyed (Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8). It can only be enjoyed by faith, and it must be maintained by a consistent walk.

3. This peace will keep us from sinking, from sinning, it will keep us calm amidst disturbance, at rest amidst restlessness, tranquil in anticipation of death and judgment.

(Marcus Rainsford.)

There is a natural world, and there is a spiritual world. It is folly to ignore either. True wisdom lies in adequately acknowledging the claims of each, and skilfully adjusting their relations to each other. A man may be so engrossed by the natural, as to live as if there were no spiritual world, and vice versa In the one case he becomes a materialist; in the other, a mystic. We are now in this world, and have duties here which religion must help us to discharge. But there is a spiritual world, and nothing gives such elevation of character, and such power and consistency of living, as a sense of its real presence. The spiritually-minded have ever been the pioneers of human progress. Paul did not disparage the life that now is; he rather exalted it by constantly bringing upon it the power of the life to come. In the text he represents the effect of a spiritual faith on this human life. The key to the whole is, "The Lord is at hand." There are four characteristics of spiritual mindedness as thus understood.

I. It will surprise materialists that the first is Joy — the delightful enjoyment of the feelings of pleasure at good gained and actually enjoyed, or at the prospect of good which one has a reasonable hope of obtaining.

1. The natural world can give joy.(1) There is the joy of youth, when the blood is hot, and burdens have not bowed, and disappointment have not soured the man, where there are many beautiful hopes and no bitter memories.(2) The joy of health, when the humours are wholesome, the circulation unimpeded, the nerves unjaded, the lungs sound, and the brain clear; when food is pleasant, sleep sweet, and activity exhilarating.(3) The joy of success, when the battle has been won, the office secured, the bride wedded, the fortune made.(4) The joy of the affections, when the heart has loved well.

2. But the great defect in all joy that is not "in the Lord" is that it is transitory. Youth, health, success, are good while they last, but they last so short a time.

3. Our faith does not offer us a choice as between natural and spiritual joy. On the contrary, the sources of natural joy are intensified by our spiritual joys, and placed upon a more enduring basis. Would not (let conscience speak) your natural joys be trebly sweet if you did not feel that if these were swept away there would be nothing left? If you did but "rejoice in the Lord" all of earth that is sweet and beautiful would be more so. To the spiritually-minded "the Lord is at hand" to help every human joy.

II. To be spiritually-minded is to have habits of honesty in business, of candour, good temper and forgiveness, for that is the meaning of MODERATION.

1. This is a provoking world, full of things which create disagreeable feelings. The weariness and tricks of others make us shut up ourselves and become uncandid, and cynical, and hard. Life becomes a game. We must not show our hands. The wicked will take advantage of it, and we shall lose.

2. Well, if this natural life be all there is, we cannot afford to be candid and good-tempered toward all men. But a spiritually-minded man can so afford, "The Lord is at hand" to help him. Put Him away, saying that each man must care for himself only, and if you fail, no matter the failure; if you succeed, how barren the success.

3. Whether you will or not "the Lord is at hand." He sees all in the light of the spiritual world, and judges accordingly. He is at hand to help. The factory operative, the merchant, the capitalist, may all have a sense of His nearness, and if they have, then their moderation, fairness, self-control, and forgiveness will be known unto all men.

III. ELEVATION OF SOUL — a serenity of temper over which the changes of life may pass as Storms do over a mountain, loosing here and there a stone, breaking here and there a tree, shaking the whole mass and drenching it, but leaving the mountain rooted in the earth.

1. Much of our life is frittered away with carking cares and anxieties. These came from too close a look at things which are temporal. This nearness must be corrected by spiritual mindedness. To a man who has no feeling of the Lord's nearness every trouble exaggerates itself. He cannot put his full powers to any one thing, because he is troubled about many things.

2. Right spiritual-mindedness does not unfit us for the duties of life. Faith does not teach carelessness. It is the care that distracts which must be avoided. That is only avoided as a man comes to feel that the Lord stands by Him. That realized, he can attend to his multifarious duties without distraction. He has then a powerful motive to do his best, and that being done, he calmly leaves what he cannot do.

IV. DEVOUTNESS — a sense of the presence of One who takes an interest in our lives, and to whom we can speak specifically about everything that concerns us, and therefore concerns Him, and from whom we can get direction and help. In conclusion, when we are spiritually-minded God's peace —

1. Keeps our hearts steady and true when temptations and troubles and bereavements seem bearing them away.

2. Our minds. No mind loses its balance as long as it perceives the Lord at hand to help.

3. Through Jesus Christ, the connecting link.

(C. J. Deems, D. D.)

Weekly Pulpit.
The gospel takes hold of every string in human nature. The beginner only plays on the central octaves of the pianoforte, while the master hand makes the seven octaves discourse music in their turn. Joy is soul elation, or the feeling of extreme pleasure. There are certain conditions when that string is touched by the hand of truth.

I. THE JOY OF CONVERSION. Relief from the burden of sin, and finding the pearl of great price. After Philip explained the matter, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. No one can contemplate the fact that Christ is slain for His sins, and is risen for His justification, without experiencing a sense of happiness (Acts 8:27-40). See also the account of the conversion of the Philippian jailer, and Lydia. Joy from a sense of safety is not the highest type, but very real.

II. THE JOY OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. When friends meet, there is a reciprocal feeling of esteem (Acts 2:40-47). Two old Peninsula veterans accidentally met after a separation of twenty years. Words could not depict the beaming faces. It was the joy of esteem. Whenever the apostles met their brethren there was joy: Paul, the prisoner, was full of happiness in anticipating to see the Philippians again.

III. THE JOY OF SERVICE. God loves a cheerful giver. There was great joy when David collected the funds for the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:9). Greater still was the joy of the redeemed in building the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:43). God must be served with gladness.

IV. THE JOY OF PROSPERITY. The Christian has no prosperity apart from the kingdom of Christ (Luke 15:10). The father made a feast because the lost had been found. The visit of Philip to Samaria was blessed abundantly. "There was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:8). The gospel is "good tidings of great joy to all people." The more souls are saved the more the joy of the Church (Luke 10)

V. The joy of special revelation. There are moments of supreme happiness given to all good people, such as the time of the Transfiguration. The happiest moment in the life of the Christian is the last, when the servant is dismissed his present service in peace, and advancing towards the crown. One word of caution — see that the right motive produces joy. There are superficial influences of a charming nature, but without depth or worth. "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience." When conscience says, rejoice, we are safe. It is a joy that will continue evermore.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

I. WHAT DOES THIS PRECEPT MEAN?

1. Joy, like every other simple emotion, cannot be defined; it must be felt to be known. The text enforces that form of joy which we should call habitual cheerfulness as —(1) Opposed to gloom and dejection. These are natural to some, fostered by the circumstances of many, but forbidden to a Christian. Though gloom be in harmony with my constitution or temperament, that cannot justify me in cherishing it. I may have a natural propensity to steal, but I am to fight against it; and so with a tendency to dejection. The Christian is not like Cain, a fugitive and without a friend; but like Abraham, whose resources for everything were in the sufficiency of God. What Habbakuk did ("although the fig tree," etc.) St. Paul tells all Christians to do, "Count it all joy when you fall into divers trials."(2) As distinguished from levity and mirth. Mirth is an act, cheerfulness a habit. Mirth is like a meteor; cheerfulness like a star. Mirth is like crackling thorns; cheerfulness like a fire. Mirth is like a freshet formed by a sudden overflow; cheerfulness like a river fed by deep springs and numerous brooks.(3) As distinguished from indifference and insensibility. It is a positive state; a very distinct and vivid consciousness. A man may be very far from miserable; but it does not follow that he is cheerful. He may be stolid and callous of soul.

2. The text requires that cheerfulness should be habitual.

(1)It is required of us in working. We are to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow or brain joyfully, not counting work a hardship.

(2)There should be cheerfulness in giving, which God loves.

(3)In Christian communion.

(4)In general social intercourse.

(5)In suffering.

(6)In worship.

3. The precept directs us to derive our habitual cheerfulness from the Lord. No creature was ever happy in itself separated from God. You must not, therefore, try to get it from yourself.

(1)You will never get it from increase of wealth. That brings increase of care.

(2)Nor from the Church;

(3)but from Christ; His character, advent, death, righteousness, exaltation.This is the lesson continually put before us in the Bible. "My people have committed two evils." "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord."

II. BY WHAT MAY THIS PRECEPT BE ENFORCED?

1. Habitual religious cheerfulness is a personal advantage.(1) It benefits the body and the spirit. "A merry heart doeth good like medicine." There are many persons who seriously impair their health by nursing gloom. Many nervous diseases may be traced to a state of mind cherished.(2) A man works with great power who cherishes this spirit: "Neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Soldiers after a long day's march would hardly walk as nimbly as they do if they did not march to music. Get a cheerful heart and the yoke is easy and the burden light.

2. It is a strong qualification for rendering service to others. It is of little use trying to instruct, especially in religion, even a child, unless you are cheerful. And certainly a man is no use in the sick chamber, or in the house of bereavement, unless he has a cheerful heart.

3. If a Christian cannot rejoice always no man can.

(1)The infidel cannot.

(2)Nor the worldly.

4. For this the Christian has the largest possible provision. He has been born again, is a son of God and joint heir with Christ. It is quite true that Christians are soldiers and that the fight is hard, but victory is sure; they are racers and the running is exhausting, but the crown is sure; they are pilgrims and the journey is wearisome, but the arrival at home is sure; so that the soldier, racer, pilgrim, may rejoice alway.

5. The precept is enforced by Divine authority, by the example and word of Christ.Conclusion:

1. When you are inclined to despondency, investigate the cause. "Why art thou cast down?"

2. When in circumstances that are grievous call before you all that is joyous and hopeful. How strange it is that people who have never had a real trouble are always grumbling.

3. Never lose sight of the fountain of gladness.

4. Avoid vain and foolish anticipations of evil.

(S. Martin.)

This joy is —

I. INTELLECTUAL.

1. The reason has its moments of inexpressible delight. "Why do you sit up so late at night?" was asked of an eminent mathematician. "To enjoy myself." "How? I thought you spent your time in working out problems." "So I do, and there is the enjoyment. Those persons lose a form of enjoyment too keen to be described who do not know what it is to recognize after long effort and various failures, the true relation which exists between two mathematical formulae." We may be strangers to this form of enjoyment, but we may know enough of other subjects to believe its reality. All knowledge is delightful to the human mind because it involves contact with fact, and this contact is welcome to the mind because the mind is made for God the Truth of truths, in whom as manifested in His Son are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

2. In our day this delight is especially observable in the study of nature. The "scientific spirit" is almost concentrated upon this study, and it deserves a warm welcome from Christians; for if revelation is God's second book, nature is His first.

3. And if the contact of mind with reality has thus a charm all its own, what should not be the delight of steadily contemplating God as He presents Himself to us in His revelation. There the Being, the perfection, the life of God, are spread out before us like a boundless ocean, that we may rejoice in Him always as the only, the perfect satisfaction of our intellectual nature.

4. But alas! while this is the case, a new plant in your botanical gardens, a newly discovered animal in your menageries, an octopus in your aquariums, will send a thrill of delight through those who claim to represent the most active thought of the day, and all the while the Being of beings, with all the magnificent array of His attractive and awful attributes is around you. How much of the mental life you bestow so ungrudgingly on His creatures is given to Him! O intelligence of man, that was made for something higher than any created thing, understand, before it is too late, thy magnificent destiny and rejoice in the Lord.

II. MORAL.

1. It is the active, satisfied experience of a moral nature, a coming in contact with the uncreated and perfect moral Being. Joy has much more to do with the affections than with the reason. It is the play of the affections upon an object which responds to them and satisfies them. To the man of family, his wife and children call out and sustain this delight, which the ordinary occupations of his intellect rarely stimulate. And little as he may think it, on that threshold, beside that cradle, the man stands face to face with the attributes of the everlasting Being who has infused His tenderness and His love into the works of His hands.

2. God's attributes of holiness, justice, mercy, may well delight the human mind, but they address themselves inevitably to our moral nature. As we gaze on God the holy, we turn our eyes on ourselves, and ask "If He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity what does He see in me?" Between that uncreated beauty and our enfeebled, broken nature, we know that some dark shadow has passed, and yet light enough is left to enable us to see how little we are like Him. Man, conscious of this radical flaw hides himself from the Lord God and a deep gloom takes possession of him. He would fain bury himself in amusement or work — anyhow — in self-forgetfulness — anywhere out of the sight of God.

3. The work of our Saviour has made it again possible to rejoice in God. Christ has destroyed the discord between our conscience and His holiness. His graces establishes a union between the believing soul and its object. "We are accepted in the beloved." Read Romans 5:1-11 and see what are the consequences of this new relation to God.(1) Peace; and then as the soul finds what it is to have entered into the state of grace comes(2) Joy; and joy as it is one of the first experiences, so in its more magnificent forms it is the crowning gift of the new life. Not only being reconciled shall we be saved by Christ's life, but we also joy in God through Christ from whom we have received the atonement. The old fear which skulks away behind the trees of the garden is gone. Clinging to the Cross of Christ we behold the face of the Father, and "with joy we draw water out of the wells of salvation."Conclusion:

1. Our power of rejoicing in the Lord is a fair test of our moral condition. The heart that does not "break forth into joy" at the mention of His name is surely paralyzed or dead. If earthly friends, pleasures, etc., rouse in us keen sensations of delight, and this name which is above every name, this love which transcends earthly affections, finds and leaves us cold and unconcerned, be sure that it cannot be well with us.

2. This power of rejoicing is the Christian's main support under the trials of life. St. Paul after saying that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God adds, "not only so but we glory in tribulations."

3. This power is one of the great motive forces of the Christian life. Within the regenerate soul it is a well of water springing up into everlasting life, fertilizing everything — thought, feeling, resolution, worship: it gives a new impulse to what before was passive or dead, and makes outward efforts and inward graces possible, which else had been undreamt of.

(Canon Liddon.)

Joy drives out discord. Our text follows as a remedy upon disagreement (vers. 1-2). Joy helps against the trials of life. Hence it is mentioned as a preparation for the rest of faith (ver. 6).

I. THE GRACE COMMANDED — "Rejoice."

1. It is delightful: our soul's jubilee has come when joy enters.

2. It is demonstrative: it is more than peace: it sparkles, shines, sings. Why should it not? Joy is a bird; let it fly in the open heavens, and its music be heard of all men.

3. It is stimulating, and urges its possessor to brave deeds.

4. It is influential for good. Sinners are attracted to Jesus by the joy of saints. More flies are caught by a spoonful of honey than by a barrel of vinegar.

5. It is contagious. Others are gladdened by our rejoicing.

6. It is commanded. It is not left optional. It is commanded because

(1)It makes us like God.

(2)It is for our profit.

(3)It is good for others.

II. THE JOY DISCRIMINATED.

1. As to the sphere — "In the Lord." That is the sacred circle wherein the Christian's life should always be spent.

2. As to the object.(1) In the Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit; in the Lord Jesus, crucified, risen, etc.(2) Not in

(a)temporals, personal, political, pecuniary.

(b)Nor in special privileges, which involve greater responsibility.

(c)Nor even in religious successes (Luke 10:20).

(d)Nor in self and its doings (Philippians 3:3).

III. THE TIME APPOINTED — "Always."

1. When you cannot rejoice in any other, rejoice in God.

2. When you can rejoice in other things, sanctify all with joy in God.

3. When you have not before rejoiced, begin at once.

4. When you have long rejoiced, do not cease for a moment.

5. When others are with you, lead them in this direction.

6. When you are alone, enjoy to the full this rejoicing.

IV. THE EMPHASIS LAID ON THE COMMAND — "Again I say, Rejoice." Paul repeats his exhortation.

1. To show his love to them. He is intensely anxious that they should share his joy.

2. To suggest the difficulty of continual joy. He twice commands, because we are slow to obey.

3. To assert the possibility of it. After second thoughts, he feels that he may fitly repeat the exhortation.

4. To impress the importance of the duty. Whatever else you forget, remember this: Be sure to rejoice.

5. To allow of special personal testimony. "Again I say, rejoice." Paul rejoiced. He was habitually a happy man. This Epistle to the Philippians is peculiarly joyous. Let us look it through.

(1)He sweetens prayer with joy (Philippians 1:4).

(2)He rejoices that Christ is preached (Philippians 1:18).

(3)He wishes to live to gladden the Church (Philippians 1:25).

(4)To see the members likeminded was his joy (Philippians 2:2).

(5)It was his joy that he should not run in vain (Philippians 2:16).

(6)His farewell to them was, "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1).

(7)He speaks of those who rejoice in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:3).

(8)He calls his converts his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1).

(9)He expresses his joy in their kindness (Philippians 4:4, 10, 18).Conclusion: To all our friends let us use this as a blessing: "Rejoice in the Lord."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THERE ARE SOME PRECEPTS OF SCRIPTURE WHICH WE MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY IN PERFORMING, BUT WHICH, AT LEAST, WE HAVE THE POWER OF ATTEMPTING. Such, e.g., as to forsake a bad habit or to undertake a certain course of action. BUT THERE ARE OTHERS WHICH SEEM TO ENJOIN WHAT IS BEYOND OUR POWER, e.g., those which demand a particular aspect of mind, whatever may be our feelings, such as our text. It seems strange that joy should be a duty. Unless there be cause for it, how can we have the power? Well, we may surely reckon up our occasions for sorrow and joy, and if the latter preponderate we might, at least, be ashamed of being unhappy, and that is a great preparation for a thankful state of mind. When a man is downcast, he is often raised by a friend who points out that things are not so bad as he thinks. And the Christian has reasons for joy which far outweigh reasons for sorrow. Count up then your mercies. Adjust yourselves to the breathings of God's Spirit. If you cannot call forth the melody which slumbers in the heart, you can awaken the breeze of its music.

II. JOYFULNESS IS AS MUCH WITHIN OUR POWER AS HONESTY AND INDUSTRY. It is not as though it were only a question of natural disposition, etc. One great purpose of religion is to furnish us with motives and aids to correct our natural temperament, and to bring into play moral forces to counteract those which are opposite to good. Is not the Christian entitled to discharge all his cares on God's providence; lay his sins on God's Son; and his fears on God's promises? Has he an excuse then for being disquieted.

III. SOME CHRISTIANS REGARD JOY AS PERMITTED BUT NOT AS COMMANDED, a privilege, not a duty. Had this been so numbers would have wanted it; but as God has enjoined it all must strive after it, and that for many reasons. The believer is asked to state what is religion. If he fails to rejoice he brings disgrace upon it, for he is disobedient. And here is the triumph of infidelity; and the inquirer after religion is deterred when he sees in its professors, how it defers the happiness of which he is in search.

IV. AS JOY IS A COMMAND WHICH PROCEEDS FROM GOD'S MOUTH, SO IT MAY BE KEPT BY GOD'S GRACE. We are bidden to rejoice "in the Lord." Whatever be the attribute contemplated there is reason for gladness even in the holiness which condemns our sin. For did not that very holiness provide a means whereby the sinner might be honourably and eternally forgiven. If there be nothing in God in which we may not rejoice, it is evident that there is nothing in the universe.

V. THE REDEEMER IS A MODEL FOR THE CHRISTIAN IN THIS AS IN EVERY OTHER VIRTUE. He who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross says, "Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full."

VI. HALF THE DEPRESSION OF CHRISTIANS ARISES FROM LOOKING AT AND INTO THEMSELVES. Even when looking at Christ for righteousness, they look to themselves for comfort. It is Christ's hold on the believer that makes him safe. Rejoice, then, in the Lord.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

As sorrow is attendant on sin, so is joy the companion of holiness. Joy is a feeling of pleasure caused by the remembrance of some past, the possession of some present, or the hope of some future good.

I. The Christian looks back on the PAST. Then sin on his own part is seen side by side with love upon God's. He thinks with sorrow of his sinfulness, but remembers the forbearance which withheld the Almighty hand, the goodness that led to repentance and the grace that saved, and so rejoices in the Lord.

II. The PRESENT gives the same cause for rejoicing. There is much to abase and arouse painful feelings, but in the prayer which brings fresh supplies of strength, in the grace which is all-sufficient, in the promises, and in the work of faith and labour of love there is abundant cause for joy.

III. The FUTURE presents a joyful outlook. The extinction of sin, the removal of all hindrances to holiness, the full blessedness of body and soul in heaven.

(Canon Chamneys.)

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS DUTY.

1. That Christians are pleased that God exists. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Man in a state of nature dreads God. Naturally wishful of independence he dislikes the idea of one above him who can dispose of him according to His pleasure. But in Christians this enmity has been slain.

2. That they are pleased that He exists possessed of all Divine perfections. They could not rejoice in Him were it possible for Him to make a mistake or use any deception.

3. That they are pleased that He formed the most wise, just, and benevolent designs from eternity.

4. That they rejoice in His constant execution of His original designs. "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice."

II. THE PROPRIETY OF THIS DUTY. No one questions the duty of rejoicing sometimes; but how always? Is there not a time to weep? Thousands of things are the proper objects of mourning. Yes; but the text says: "Rejoice in the Lord." In Him there is no ground for mourning. And even mourning over evil things admits of an element of joy, inasmuch as they are ever working out His plans. We mourn over our afflictions, yet we may rejoice in God, inasmuch as a patient may rejoice in the skill of the surgeon while he bewails the pain of amputation.

III. THE REASONS FOR THIS DUTY. We are to rejoice because —

1. God always knows what is best to do with all His creatures. He is the only wise God.

2. He is always immutably disposed to do what is best. As a father feels towards his children the Father of mercies feels towards His whole family. The fountain of all good is in its own nature a just cause of rejoicing apart from the thousand streams of goodness which flow from it.

3. He is absolutely able to do what is best. If there were a single case of inability it would wreck our confidence in Him.

4. If, then, He knows what is best, is disposed to do what is best, and able to do it, He certainly always will do it.Improvement:

1. To rejoice in God always is the most difficult duty Christians have to perform. It is easy to rejoice in favours; but how about trials.

2. To discharge this duty is to do what is most pleasing to God, implying as it does the purest faith, love, and obedience.

3. To do this is to do peculiar honour to religion. Mere selfishness will dispose men to rejoice when they receive good at the hand of God.

4. Those who obey this precept are the happiest men in the world. Men of the world are in some measure happy, but their rejoicing is often interrupted.

5. To neglect this precept is unwise, sinful, and injurious.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. WHAT IT IS.

1. It is more than contentment. To be content is not to murmur, not to wish for a better lot; to rejoice is to be right glad, and to be persuaded that we have got the best we could expect.

2. Can this be the duty of the disciples of the "Man of Sorrows"? Undoubtedly a true Christian is serious, and often sad (Psalm 119:136; 2 Corinthians 7:7); and therefore has no part in such mirth and revelry as flows from thoughtlessness and intemperance.

3. But it does not follow that he may not be truly happy — only his rejoicing is in the spirit, "in the Lord." And to thus rejoice must be computable with sorrow for sin and self-denial; yet for all this it may be a real, lively, and lasting satisfaction (1 Peter 1:8; Romans 8:8; Matthew 17:4).

II. WHEN IT MAY BE FELT.

1. In prosperity; especially if we have set our hearts on God's good gifts of grace. But it consists not in the goods we enjoy, but in those we hope for; not in the pleasures we experience, but in the promise of those which seeing not we believe. Riches may abound, but we know they are of no value compared to those in heaven; health may flourish, but what is that compared with life for evermore; friends and families may grow up and multiply the joy of all we have, but these serve only the more to make us glad that we have a Friend who will never fail and a home where with them we may enjoy His blessed company forever.

2. In adversity; which was the condition of those here addressed. Paul repeats his words as though aware that it might seem a hard saying. But the grounds of their rejoicing are yours. For you the same Saviour died; for you there is the same heaven, the same unsearchable riches. Do you believe all this? Then rejoice.

3. In temptation. Whichever way this comes we are prone at first to be sorry, because of our weakness and proneness to fall. Yet James (James 1:2) tells us to rejoice. Why? Because one thus feels sin to be the heaviest of afflictions, which is thus a sign of grace. So St. Peter (1 Peter 4:12-13). Whatever then may be the trials of our faith now we are to rejoice because we shall be glad hereafter when Christ's glory shall be revealed. Thus may we pray not to be led into it, and yet when brought into it rejoice that by God's grace we may come out of it triumphant.

4. In death. Nowhere is Christian joy distinguished from worldly satisfactions more than here. For this is the introduction to an eternal consummation.(1) We lose nothing by the change we call death. We cease to breathe; but we still feel, think, love, and are beloved. If we part with our friends it is only for a brief season.(2) Besides, losing nothing we gain everything (Matthew 6:19).

(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)

I.IN HIS ATONEMENT (Romans 5:11).

II.IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 4).

III.IN HIS FAITHFULNESS (Philippians 1:6).

IV.IN HIS POWER. "Kept by the power of God."

1. In sorrow.

2. In persecution.

3. In bereavement.

4. In death.

(R. J. McGhee, A. M.)

I. GOD WHO REQUIRES HIS PEOPLE TO REJOICE AFFORDS THEM AMPLE REASON FOR DOING SO: HENCE THE REQUIREMENT IS REASONABLE AND PRACTICABLE. The Christian is not required to rejoice in nothing or in an inadequate cause: but in the Lord all-sufficient.

II. THERE EXISTS EQUAL REASON WHY THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD REJOICE IN GOD AT ALL TIMES AS AT ANY TIME. The cause is uniform, so should be the effect. If God ceased to be his friend then he might cease to rejoice, but not otherwise (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

III. JOY AND SORROW IN THE SAME HEART AND AT THE SAME TIME ARE PERFECTLY COMPATIBLE. There may exist contemporaneously reasons for both sorrow and joy. "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." When we are commanded to rejoice always it is not meant that we should rejoice only.

IV. IN THE CASE OF THE CHRISTIAN THE CAUSES OF JOY ALWAYS PREDOMINATE OVER THOSE OF SORROW. Not so with the sinner. A saint may lose a part of his possessions: but the larger part he cannot lose.

V. THE VERY SORROWS OF THE CHRISTIAN ARE TO BE REJOICED IN. They work for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Inferences:

1. If it is our duty to be happy then it is a sin to be miserable.

2. How grossly they misrepresent religion who speak of it as a gloomy thing.

3. We learn what it is that makes the soul happy. Not the world; that is passing away; but the Lord who abides.

4. If God alone can make His creatures happy what madness it is to live in ignorance of Him, or in estrangement from Him.

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

I. REJOICE IN THE LORD. At the outset —

1. Don't think this means —(1) a seventh-heaven rapture. Nothing is easier, more common, or disheartening than the way we exaggerate religious joy. It is not given to many of us to soar to great heights; much less to live there. We want a joy that can walk along life's dusty roads, as a good day's work, and thrive amidst bustle and home cares.(2) The short lived offspring of a passing excitement; an April day of sunshine, and showers that end in a night of sharp frost.(3) Nor is it the childlike merriment of good spirits.(4) Nor a natural hopefulness that forgets the past, and doesn't trouble much about the future.

2. But it is a calm, deep, settled gladness in the Lord.(1) It does not change life so that there are no difficulties and burdens; but it edges the clouds with brightness, and in the darkness it can always see the stars. It does not turn the desert into a garden, but it is an angel presence bidding us "fear not," and opening our eyes, it shows us "a well of water."(2) It is of much importance that we keep from exaggerations. Many young people turn from religion disappointed because they have been encouraged to look for sustained raptures and have not found them.(3) Depend upon it this "oil of gladness" is something that commonplace, everyday people can have if they will.

II. THE INGREDIENTS OF THIS JOY. It is not distilled from rare exotics and delicate plants that grow only in hothouses and cost much to cultivate. There are three simples growing just by the gate of the King's garden, and whoever will cultivate and mix them shall have this balm.

1. The sturdy plant Confidence — the superlative degree of hope; that in the dark today sings of a bright tomorrow; that does not think or believe that a loving Father orders all things, but rests in the assurance of it.

2. Confidence must be mixed equally with a little lowly plant that grows on the bank of the river — Contentment — a rarer plant than the other. Contentment keeps its desires level with its condition. When much is taken it counts up how much is left, and turns the evil round to find a better face upon it, thinking of the worse that might have been.

3. Put in Gratitude, to enrich it and make it sparkle.

III. BUT IF IT BE THUS EASILY MADE WHY IS IT SO UNCOMMON?

1. There are timid souls who have not the courage to forget themselves.

2. There are the stern, the gloomy, the severe, possibly too selfish to forget themselves, or too exact to forget anything. Hard-natured men of narrow sympathies to whom the brighter things of the world are vanities. Music and children and flowers and holidays have no charms for them. Business, duty, absorbs them. O! it is a pitiful thing when all the child is dead in men.

3. There are those whose religion is mostly a regular observance of services, a half-hearted round of duty. The religion that rejoices in the Lord must have something intense about it. A languid, pale-faced, sickly man who gets up for an hour or two and sits by the fire can't enjoy anything; he hasn't vigour enough. Type of dead-alive Christians, whose religion is true enough, but they have not enough of it. They want more warmth and life and heart.

IV. CAN CHRISTIANS AFFORD TO LIVE WITHOUT THIS JOY IN THE LORD?

1. It is repeatedly commanded. Is he guiltless who passes by the word with light indifference?

2. It is encouraged by every promise and precept. May not the man suspect the religion that is so unlike the Scripture sample?

3. It is the natural fruit of spiritual life: and if the fruit be wanting, the tree is not worth having.

4. Surely we have no business to keep twitting the world about a peace it can neither give nor take away, if all we can tell them is a dismal tale of trials and temptations, failure and sin. This is not what the Bible holds out to us, what Christ purchased for us, and is not likely to fetch home the prodigal from the far country.

V. HOW MAY WE MAKE THIS JOY OUR OWN? Confidence, Contentment, Gratitude, where can we find them? only in the King's garden.

1. We must go out of ourselves for everything worth having. He who sees self will never see anything but what he may weep over. He who sees the Lord may live always triumphing.

2. The opposite to this joy is not sorrow. The Man of Sorrows was "anointed with the oil of joy above His fellows."(1) The real killjoy is worry. Hundreds of religious people trust the Lord to save their souls; but to feed and clothe the body, train the children, etc., all that they must fret over as if their loving Father did not sit on the throne.(2) The wasp nest of ill temper. This too may be conquered. "I can do all things through Him that strengtheneth me."

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

The text shows that religion is no killjoy: and yet it is frequently regarded as involving a renunciation of the pleasures of life. To ascertain the relation of piety to amusements is of great importance. Every man has leisure and inclination for amusement. How far may it be indulged? A man is made or marred by the way in which he spends his leisure. A certain amount of amusement is beneficial, but multitudes are ruined by amusement.

I. THE EXTENT TO WHICH MERE AMUSEMENT IS NEEDFUL AND BENEFICIAL.

1. The "alway" of the text covers the whole sphere of life but mere amusement can only be an occasional thing, and therefore not the only form of happiness. That must be found also in those experiences, duties, toils, anxieties, and sorrows which constitute the main stream of our daily life.

2. The key to this is "in the Lord." If God makes us glad we may be always glad. A richer joy may be found in discharging life's duties and bearing its burdens so as to secure God's approval than in any amount of amusement.

3. Seeing that it would be a great mistake to seek happiness in amusements which would imperil the proper conduct of life's more serious business. He who neglects duty for amusement makes a great mistake.

II. WHAT TEACHING THERE IS IN THE TEXT RESPECTING THE LAWFULNESS OF AMUSEMENTS AND THE MAIN PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE US.

1. Rejoicing is a Christian duty. Hence we ought to cultivate it as much as justice, etc.

2. Can cheerfulness be cultivated without paying special attention to the matter? Certainly not: hence the gospel sanctions a certain amount of amusement. Happiness is the outcome of the healthy play of our faculties. Now in the daily stress some of them are sure to be overstrained. Our constitution is like a harp of many strings. To keep it in tune, therefore, we must naturally give the overstrained strings periodic rest, but touch up the others and play upon them: this is amusement, and the text implies its necessity.

3. But what kind of amusement does the gospel sanction?(1) Our pleasures must be pure and unselfish, to be indulged in in the spirit of holiness and kindly consideration for others. We are to rejoice in the Lord always; and holiness and unselfishness were the most conspicuous features of Christ's character.

4. God has placed within the reach of all an infinite amount of ennobling entertainment. In the world around us there is an inexhaustible wealth of beauty, grandeur, and skill whose observation and imitation supply us with abundant entertainment.(1) We are born into a theatre where a drama of the most thrilling interest, now comedy, now tragedy, now both, is constantly going forward, and we are taking our own little part in it.(2) We are born into a museum such as monarch never erected.(3) We are born into a palace whose roof is the firmament, whose walls the horizon, and whose floor the earth and sea.(4) Besides this music, art, poetry, and literature are at command.(5) And, yet more, God has so made us that the lawful satisfaction of our appetites and exercise of our bodies may be a constant source of pleasure.

5. How is it, then, that we make such a mess of our amusements. We want —(1) Christ's training to make us Christlike in our tastes and habits — eyes trained to appreciate beauty in form and colour; ears trained to appreciate music, and a decided taste formed for literature and science. The lower appetites are always ripe for entertainment — the higher want cultivating, and the lower will then give way.(2) Unselfishness and charity in our pleasures. The man who can amuse himself at the expense of wife and children or any of his fellows, cannot rejoice in the Lord, and such amusements will always be unhallowed and unblessed.

(Dr. Colborne.)

To rejoice is in one sense a happiness, in another a duty. In one sense it is an art: there are those who contrive to rejoice, find food for joy, where others can see nothing but gloom and grief: in another aspect it is an attainment; a result arrived at by long experience, in the latter days of a consistent Christian course. But in every point of view Christian joy can only be found in the Lord; by communion with Him, by close watching, by living much in things above. Compromises with the world drive it away. Sin destroys it in a moment.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Joy has been considered by Christian people very largely as an exceptional state; whereas sobriety — by which is meant severity of mind or a non-enjoying state of mind — is supposed to be the normal condition. I knew a Roman Catholic priest that was as upright and conscientious a man as ever I met, who said he did not dare to be happy; he was afraid that he should lose his soul if he was; and he subjected himself to every possible mortification, saying, "It is not for me to be happy here, I must take it out when I get to heaven. There I expect to be happy." That was in accordance with his view of Christianity.

(H. W. Beecher.)

An infidel was lecturing in a village in the North of England, and at the close he challenged discussion. Who should accept the challenge but an old bent woman in most antiquated attire, who went up to the lecturer and said, "Sir, I have a question to put to you." "Well, my good woman, what is it?" "Ten years ago," she said, "I was left a widow with eight children utterly unprovided for, and nothing to call my own but this Bible. By its direction, and looking to God for strength, I have been enabled to feed myself and family. I am now tottering to the grave, but I am perfectly happy, because I look forward to a life of immortality with Jesus in heaven. That is what my religion has done for me. What has your way of thinking done for you?" "Well, my good lady," rejoined the lecturer, "I don't want to disturb your comfort; but —" "Oh, that's not the question," interposed the woman; "keep to the point, sir. What has your way of thinking done for you?" The infidel endeavoured to shirk the matter again; the feeling of the meeting gave vent to uproarious applause, and he had to go away discomfited by an old woman.

Of Major Vandeleur, one of the most beautiful characters found among the Christians of the Crimean War, another officer who knew him at Gibraltar said to his biographer, Miss Marsh: "Everybody on the old rock liked Vandeleur, and regretted him when he left us. He was 'blue' you know (i.e., religious), but then he was such a bright blue! No gay man, I should think, was ever half so cheerful and charming as a companion."

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

Years ago a party on board a pleasure yacht in the United States discovered to their dismay that they were being silently and slowly drawn towards the Falls of Niagara. Skill and energy began at once to cope with the horrible emergency. The furnace was filled and refilled with wood until the fuel at command was entirely exhausted. What was to be done? Dismay showed itself on every face, and despair was paralysing them when a happy thought occurred to an officer. The oil used for the machinery of the steam engine was thrown into the fire. This gave just sufficient impetus for the moving of the vessel out of the strong current into smooth water, and she was saved. "The oil of joy" keeps many a one from being swept over the rapids of temptation. Let us, then, "rejoice in the Lord" — rejoice in His nearness, sufficiency, and immutability.

(T. L. Nye.)

The motive for a repetition of this exhortation lies in the immediately foregoing context. Those "whose names are in the book of life" may well have within their breasts, even now, the sweetness and the calm of their promised bliss. The Saviour's own express command to His disciples sets this directly before us (Luke 10:20).

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

If the Christian's joy be interrupted it ought only to be as the sun's brightness may be dimmed by a passing cloud, which quickly leaves the firmament as radiant as before.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)Napoleon when sent to Elba, adopted, in proud defiance of his fate, the motto, "Ubicunque felix." It was not true in his case; but the Christian may be truly "happy everywhere" and always.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If you go into Steinway's manufactory and strike certain chords of the powerful instruments, the chords of the other instruments, though they are covered up and apparently mute, will sound. Such are the correspondences which exist between them, such is the sympathy which is communicated from one to the other by the air, that when one vibrates, all vibrate. Though the sound be low and almost inaudible, it is there. When the grandeur, beauty, and love of the Divine nature are presented to a man, they draw some response from every part of his nature which corresponds to that which is presented. When the hearts of men are drawn towards the heart of God there begins to be an interplay between them; and thus Christian rejoicing, while only possible, is inevitable, "in the Lord."

(H. W. Beecher.)

God has made the human soul, and every instinct of faculty that composes it for Himself. He alone is the key to unlock its varied and mysterious powers, to discover their true range and capacity: and as this is the case with the other emotions so it is with joy. Joy, undoubtedly, that active sense of happiness which caresses the object which provokes it; which seeks some outlet or expression of its buoyancy — joy has an immense field of modified exercise in the sphere of sense and time, and Scripture recognizes this in a hundred ways. "To the counsellors of peace there is joy." A man hath "joy by the answer of his mouth." The virgin, in Jeremiah, "rejoices in the dance," and Isaiah speaks of the "joy of harvest," and of the "rejoicing" of men after victory "who divide the spoil;" and Solomon observes that "folly is joy to him who is destitute of wisdom;" and James knows of Christians who "rejoice in their boastings, whose rejoicing is evil." The range of joy is almost as wide as that of human thought and enterprise. Its complete satisfaction is only to be found in God. God is the "exceeding joy" of the Psalmist. God is the one object who can draw out and give play to the soul's capacity for active happiness; and therefore the Psalmist's heart "dances for joy," and his mouth "praiseth God with joyful lips," and he bids the children of Zion "be joyful in their King;" and he looks out on heathendom, and would have all lands, if it were possible, "make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob;" and he looks out on nature and bids the "field be joyful and all that is in it, and the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord." This is the language of exuberant delight, and St. Paul is only adopting the expression of the Psalmist, of Israel, of Joel, of Habakkuk, of Zechariah, when he bids the Philippians "rejoice in the Lord."

(Canon Liddon.)

Our florists make up packages of seeds labelled "Gorgeous purple," "Exceedingly beautiful," "Remarkably fine," and so on, referring to the flowers. Now let these seeds go into the lands of a clumsy person who has perhaps raised corn and potatoes, but who has never raised flowers; and let him plant them in cold, wet, barren soil, and at an untimely season. A few of them will sprout, and will come slowly up, pale and spindling, and will be neglected, and the weeds will overrun them: and when the time for blossoming comes there will be found here and there a scrawny plant, with one or two stingy blossoms, and men will say. "Now we see the outcome of this pretence. Look at the labels. It is all humbug." But do you not perceive that the way in which you plant the seed, and the preparation of the soil, and the season have much to do with the successful growth? It is true that beautiful plants might have been produced. They were deserving of all the praise bestowed upon them. There was no deception. They might have been what they were represented, but they are not for want of knowledge, skill, and adaptation of conditions to ends. There may be persons who suppose because Christianity is joy producing that when they become Christians they will be joyful. They suppose that they are to take it as they would nitrous oxide gas, a magnificent Divine intoxicant, and are miserably disappointed when ecstatic effects do not take place. And the reason why there is not more joy in the Church is because you do not know how to plant the seeds and cultivate the flowers. They are real seeds, and the flowers are beautiful, and the plant bears blessed fruit to those who know how to give it proper culture. If you have the faith of Christ and heaven and God near to you; if you so love that all parts of your being are pervaded with a sense of these things; if the affluence of God reaches down to you and you open your soul to let in the consciousness of Christ, you will have joy. "Oh" says one, "I might be joyful if I were not so harassed with care." "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." There is provision made in Christ for care. "But I have such grief!" "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous" etc. If the earth had sensibility when the spade opened it, it would cry, "Oh! why art thou wounding me?" But in that open earth I drop seed, and cover up again, and by and by the ground is covered with beautiful flowers — does the earth mourn now? God is opening the furrow in you and putting in seeds. It is affliction to you now, but afterward it will produce in you the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The old Greeks and Romans had their pleasures, their glories, their learning, their art, but theirs was not a happy life. There was always a shadow across their path, a skeleton at their feast. They saw the roses which crowned their heads wither and die; they saw the pale messenger, death, knocking with impartial hand at the doors of rich and poor alike. They knew that they grew older, and nearer the grave, and beyond that they knew nothing. There was no hope. They grew weary of the dance and the wine cup; they looked on their painted walls at Rome, or Pompeii, and felt that they cared for them no longer. They had ceased to believe in their cold, passionless gods of wood and stone, who could give them no help, no comfort; they were "without God in the world." Such was the selfish life of the heathen, without God. No wonder that one day the Roman, who had nothing to live for, nothing to hope for, entered his bath, and opened a vein, and so bled quietly and painlessly to death. This is what a famous Greek poet said about life, that it was best of all not to be born, and the next best thing was to get quit of life as soon as possible. How differently speaks the Christian, "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice."

(H. J. W. Buxton, M. A.)

The infidel cannot be habitually cheerful. Hear Hume say in his treatise on human nature, "I am affrighted and confounded with that forlorn solitude in which I am placed by my philosophy. When I look abroad, I see on every side dispute, contradiction, distraction, When I turn my eyes inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. Where am I and what? From what causes do I derive my existence and to what condition shall I return? I am confounded with this question, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable." Here you have one of the most philosophic, and, in many respects, one of the best of infidels, making this as his confession. Then, if you turn to the man of poetry and pleasure, Lord Byron says "There is nothing but misery in this world, I think." This sentence was not written for effect; it was the genuine outpouring of that man's heart. He had tried everything earthly. He certainly had been to every human and temporal fountain of enjoyment. He had gone through experience like that through which the wise man takes us in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and this is his conclusion — "There is nothing but misery in this world, at least, so I think."

(S. Martin.)

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