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PREFACE

TO THE

PHILIPPIAN S.

SECT. I. Of the Founding of the Church at Philippi.

PAULO

AUL, with his affiftants Silas and Timothy, after having

preached in most of the countries of the Lesser Afia, were directed by the Holy Ghost to pass over into Europe, in the {pring of the year 5 t, for the purpose of offering salvation to the Greeks, at that time the most celebrated people in the world for their genius and learning. These messengers of God, therefore, loosing from Troas, landed at Neapolis, a city of Macedonia; but making no stay there, they went directly to Philippi, at that time a Roman colony. At Philippi, as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles informs us, chap. xvi. 18. they abode a confiderable time and converted many; among whom was Lydia, a native of the city of Thyatira, who now resided in Philippi for the fake of commerce ; and the jailor of the prison into which Paul and Silas were cast. There, with the rest of the converted, afterwards rendered themselves remarkable, by their love to the apostle, and their zeal to advance the progress of the gospel. Feeling themselves unspeakably happy in being brought out of the darkness of heathenifm, they conceived, it seems, a strong

desire that their countrymen should share in the same felicity. · For while the apostle preached in Thessalonica, the metropolis of Macedonia, the brethren at Philippi fent him money iwice, that the success of the gospel might not be hindered by its preachers becoming burdensome to the Thessalonians. The same attention they fhewed to the apostle, and for the same reaTon, while he preached the gospel in Corinth, 2 Cor. xi. 9.– These, however, were not the only proofs which the Philippians

gave of their good difpofition. Their behaviour in other respects was every way worthy of their profession. They main. tained the doctrine of the gofpel in purity, and walked in the holy manner required by its precepts. The Christians at Philippi, therefore, were deservedly much beloved of the apostle. He visited them often as he passed to and from Greece, and in these visits confirmed them in the faith, and gave them much {piritual confolation.

Sect. II. Of the Occasion of writing tẢe Epiféle to the Philip

pians.

The brethren at Philippi, having heard of their spiritual father's imprisonment at Rome, fent Epaphroditus, one of their most esteemed pastors, to that city, to comfort him by making known to him their love, and by supplying him with money, that he might want nothing necessary, to render his confinement easy, chap. iv, 18. In making this present to the apoftle, all the brethren of that church, no doubt, contributed according to their ability; but none more liberally, we may believe, than Lydia, who was the apostle's first convert there, and who shewed such attachment to Christ, and such regard to his fervants, that she constrained them to lodge in her house all the time of their first abode at Philippi.-The bishops, likewise, and deacons, (of whom it seems there were several now in that church,) shewed equal forwardness with the other brethren in expressing their respect for the apostle by so feasonable a gift; as may be gathered from his mentioning them particularly in the address of his letter.

This new instance of the Philippians love to their spiritual father, and of their zeal for the gospel, making a deep imprelsion on his mind, he wrote to them the letter in the canon bearing their name, in which he first of all praised them for their faith, and for their earnest desire to contribute to the spreading of the gospel. Next, as news which he knew would be molt acceptable to the Philippians, he informed them, that he had preached with great success in Rome, and that his imprisonment, instead of hindering, had furthered the gospel, by making it

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known even in the palace itself. Then expressed his hopes of being soon released; in which cafe he promised to visit them; but in the mean time he would send Timothy to comfort them. Also he thanked them in the most handsome manner for their kind remembrance of him, and for their care in fupplying his wants. And to make them easy, he told them, that through their liberal gift, he had every thing which his present situation rendered neceffary.

From the manner in which the apostle expressed himself on this occafion, it appears that before he received the Philippians present, he was in great want even of necessaries; which may seem strange, considering how numerous and rich the brethren in Rome must have been. But we should remember, that as Paul had not converted the Romans, he did not think himself entitled to maintenance from them: That being a prisoner, he could not work, as in other places, for his own support : That from the churches where enemies and opposers had raised a faction against him, he never would take any thing : And that the Philippians were the only church with which he communicated, as concerning giving and receiving. This honour he did them, because they loved him exceedingly, had preserved his doctrine in purity, and always had behaved as fincere Christians.

The excellent character of the Philippians, may be understood from the manner in which this epistle is written. For while most of his other letters contain reprehensions of some for their errors, and of others for their bad conduct, throughout the whole of the Epistle to the Philippians, no fault is found with any

of them; unless the caution, chap. ii. 3, 4. to avoid ftrife and vain glory in the exercise of their spiritual gifts, can be called a reprehension. But his letter is employed entirely in commending them, or in giving them exhortations and encou. ragements, which as Chrysostom long ago observed, " is a “ strong proof of the virtue of the Philippians, who gave

their " teacher no subject of complaint whatever."

However, though the apostle entertained a good opinion of the Philippians he by no means wished them to reft satisfied with their present attainments. For he told them that he himself constantly en. deavoured to make farther progress in yirtue, and ordered them all to walk by the fame rule,

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The affectionate and encouraging strain in which the letter to the Philippians is written, was owing in part to the good ac. count which Epaphroditus their pastor had given of their beha'viour. But, having brought word also, that the Judaizing teachers were endeavouring to introduce themselves among the Philippians, the apostle judged it necessary to put them on their guard against persons, whose whole business was to destroy the purity and peace of the churches. And therefore, in chap. iii. it is observable that the apostle's zeal for the truth, and his great love to the Philippians, led him to speak of these corrupters of the gospel with more bitterness, than in any of his other letters. Pehaps also, he was directed to do so by a particular impulse of the Spirit, who judged it proper that this sharpness should be used for opening the eyes of the faithful, and making them senfible of the malignancy of the false teachers, and of the pernicious tendency of their doctrine.

Sect, III. Of the Person by whom the Epifle to the Philippians

was sent, and of the Time when it was written. After Epaphroditus came to Rome, he employed himself with such asliduity in preaching the gospel, and in ministring to the apostle, that through mere fatigue he fell into a dangerous disease, which had well nigh cost him his life. He recovered indeed : But his sickness was of such continuance, and his recovery was so flow, that before his health was established, the distress his friends at Philippi were in on his account, was reposted to him in Rome, and had made him extremely desirous of returning to them. As soon therefore as it was safe for him to undertake the journey, the apostle dismissed him with this letter, in which he informed the Philippians of Epaphroditus's fickness, and of his longing to return to them. At the same time, bearing testimony to the worthiness of his character, and to his faithful services in the gospel, he not only made apology to the Philippians for their pastor's long absence, but recommended him more than ever to their esteem, and secured him an affectionate reception when he should return. See chap. ii. 25. 30. These circumstances would have proved Epaphroditus

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the bearer of this letter, although the apostle had not faid'expressly, ver. 25. that he judged it neceffary to send unto them Epa. phroditus.

As to the time when the epistle to the Philippians was written, it is generally believed to have been towards the end of the apostle's confinement. For when he wrote it, he had good hope of being released, chap. i. 25. ii. 24. but did not expect to be set at liberty immediately. For said he, chap. ii. 19. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you foon, that I also may hava good courage when I know your affair.so Wherefore, since Timothy was to bring him an account of the affairs of the Philippians, the apostle certainly expected his return before he himself was released; or at least before he left Italy. From Heb. xiij. 23. we learn that Timothy was actually fent to Philippi, confequently we may suppose that the apostle, who was released aç. cording to his expectation, waited for Timothy's return at fome place in Italy, that they might set out together for Judea. And the apostle's release happening as is generally believed in the spring of A, D. 62. the epistle to the Philippians may have. been written in the summer or autumn of A. D. 01.

PHILIP.

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