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7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

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7 As it is reasonable. For we are envious 4242     “Maigres et desdaigneux;” — “Miserable and disdainful.” valuators of the gifts of God if we do not reckon as children of God those in whom there shine forth those true tokens of piety, which are the marks by which the Spirit of adoption manifests himself. Paul accordingly says, that equity itself dictates to him, 4343     “Raison mesme et equite luy disent;” — “Even reason and equity tell him.” that he should hope well of the Philippians in all time to come, inasmuch as he sees them to be associated with himself in participation of grace. It is not without due consideration that I have given a different rendering of this passage from that of Erasmus, as the judicious reader will easily perceive. For he states what opinion he has of the Philippians, which was the ground of his hoping well respecting them. He says, then, that they are partakers with him of the same grace in his bonds, and in the defense of the gospel.

To have them in his heart is to reckon them as such in the inmost affection of his heart. For the Philippians had always assisted Paul according to their ability, so as to connect themselves with him as associates for maintaining the cause of the gospel, so far as was in their power. Thus, although they were absent in body, yet, on account of the pious disposition which they shewed by every service in their power, he recognises them as in bonds along with him. “I have you, therefore, in my heart;” this is, sincerely and without any pretense, assuredly, and with no slight or doubtful opinion — as what? as partakers of grace — in what? in my bonds, by which the gospel is defended. As he acknowledged them to be such, it was reasonable that he should hope well respecting them.

Of my grace and in the bonds. It were a ludicrous thing in the view of the world to reckon a prison to be a benefit from God, but if we estimate the matter aright, it is no common honor that God confers upon us, when we suffer persecution for the sake of his truth. For it was not in vain that it was said,

Blessed shall ye be, when men shall afflict and harass you with all kinds of reproaches for my name’s sake. (Matthew 5:11)

Let us therefore bear in remembrance also, that we must with readiness and alacrity embrace the fellowship of the cross of Christ as a special favor from God. In addition to bonds he subjoins the defense and confirmation of the gospel, that he may express so much the better the honourableness of the service which God has enjoined upon us in placing us in opposition to his enemies, so as to bear testimony to his gospel. For it is as though he had entrusted us with the defense of his gospel. And truly it was when armed with this consideration, that the martyrs were prepared to contemn all the rage of the wicked, and to rise superior to every kind of torture. And would that this were present to the mind of all that are called to make a confession of their faith, that they have been chosen by Christ to be as advocates to plead his cause! For were they sustained by such consolation they would be more courageous than to be so easily turned aside into a perfidious revolt. 4444     “Ils seroyent si constans et fermes, qu’ils ne pourroyent estre aiseement induits a se reuolter laschement et desloyaument;” — “They would be so steadfast and firm, that they could not be easily induced to revolt in a cowardly and disloyal manner.”

Here, however, some one will inquire, whether the confirmation of the gospel depends on the steadfastness of men. I answer, that the truth of God is in itself too firm to require that it should have support from any other quarter; for though we should all of us be found liars, God, nevertheless, remains true. (Romans 3:4.) There is, however, no absurdity in saying, that weak consciences are confirmed in it by such helps. That kind of confirmation, therefore, of which Paul makes mention, has a relation to men, as we learn from our own experience that the slaughter of so many martyrs has been attended at least with this advantage, that they have been as it were so many seals, by which the gospel has been sealed in our hearts. Hence that saying of Tertullian, that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” — which I have imitated in a certain poem: “But that sacred blood, 4545     Sanctus at ille cruor, divini assertor honoris,
Gignendam ad sobolem seminis instar erit
the maintainer of God’s honor, will be like seed for producing offspring.” 4646     “A l’imitation duquel au chant de victoire composé par moy en Latin en l’honneur de Jesus Christ, 1541, et lequel depuis a este reduit en rime Francois, i’ay dit: —
   ‘Or le sang precieux par martyre espandu
Pour auoir a son Dieu tesmoignage rendu,
A l’Eglise de Dieu seruira de semence
Dont enfans sorteront remplis d’intelligence
.’“

   “In imitation of which, in the song of victory composed by me in Latin in honor of Jesus Christ, in 1541, and which has since that time been rendered into French rhyme, I have said: —

   ‘But the precious blood shed by martyrs
That it might be as a testimony rendered to its God,
Will in the Church of God serve as seed
From which children shall come forth, filled with understanding.’“




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