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4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 


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4. Rejoice in the Lord It is an exhortation suited to the times; for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly troublous, and dangers threatened them on every side, it was possible that they might give way, overcome by grief or impatience. 223223     “Il se pouuoit faire que les Philippiens, estans vaincus de tristesse ou impatience, venissent a perdre courage;” — “It might be, that the Philippians, being overcome by grief or impatience, might come to lose heart.” Hence he enjoins it upon them, that, amidst circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should nevertheless rejoice in the Lord, 224224     “Non obstant les troubles et les fascheries qu’ils voyoyent deuant leurs yeux;” — “Notwithstanding the troubles and annoyances that they saw before their eyes.” as assuredly these spiritual consolations, by means of which the Lord refreshes and gladdens us, ought then most of all to show their efficacy when the whole world tempts us to despair. Let us, however, in connection with the circumstances of the times, consider what efficacy there must have been in this word uttered by the mouth of Paul, who might have had special occasion of sorrow. 225225     “Qui plus que tous les autres pouuoit auoir matiere de se contrister;” — “Who might more than all others have had occasion to indulge sorrow.”“ For if they are appalled by persecutions, or imprisonments, or exile, or death, here is the Apostle setting himself forward, who, amidst imprisonments, in the very heat of persecution, and in fine, amidst apprehensions of death, is not merely himself joyful, but even stirs up others to joy. The sum, then, is this — that come what may, believers, having the Lord standing on their side 226226     “Ont le Seigneur pour eux;” — “Have the Lord for them.” , have amply sufficient ground of joy.

The repetition of the exhortation serves to give greater force to it: Let this be your strength and stability, to rejoice in the Lord, and that, too, not for a moment merely, but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated. 227227     “Que vostre ioye se continue en iceluy iusques a la fin;” — “That your joy may maintain itself in him until the end.” For unquestionably it differs from the joy of the world in this respect — that we know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive, frail, and fading, and Christ even pronouces it to be accursed (Luke 6:25). Hence, that only is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken away from us.

5 Your moderation This may be explained in two ways. We may understand him as bidding them rather give up their right, than that any one should have occasion to complain of their sharpness or severity. Let all that have to deal with you have experience of your equity and humanity.” In this way to know, will mean to experience. Or we may understand him as exhorting them to endure all things with equanimity. 228228     “En douceur et patience;” — “With sweetness and patience.” This latter meaning I rather prefer; for is a term that is made use of by the Greeks themselves to denote moderation of spirit — when we are not easily moved by injuries, when we are not easily annoyed by adversity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with this, Cicero makes use of the following expression, — “My mind is tranquil, which takes everything in good part.” 229229     “TranquilIus animus meus, qui aequi boni facit omnia.” Calvin here gives the sense, but not the precise words, of Cicero, which are as follows: “Tranquillissimus autem animus meus, qui totm istuc aequi boni facit;” — “My mind, however, is most tranquil, which takes all that in good part.” See Cic. Art.7,7. — Ed. Such equanimity — which is as it were the mother of patience — he requires here on the part of the Philippians, and, indeed, such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion will require, by producing its proper effects. The term modesty does not seem appropriate here, because Paul is not in this passage cautioning them against haughty insolence, but directs them to conduct themselves peaceably in everything, and exercise control over themselves, even in the endurance of injuries or inconveniences.

The Lord is at hand Here we have an anticipation, by which he obviates an objection that might be brought forward. For carnal sense rises in opposition to the foregoing statement. For as the rage of the wicked is the more inflamed in proportion to our mildness, 230230     “D’autant plus que nous-nous monstrons gracieux et debonnaires;” — “The more that we show ourselves agreeable and gentle.” and the more they see us prepared for enduring, are the more emboldened to inflict injuries, we are with difficulty induced to possess our souls in patience. (Luke 21:19.) Hence those proverbs, — “We must howl when among wolves.” “Those who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves.” Hence we conclude, that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by corresponding violence, that they may not insult us with impunity. 231231     “Afin qu’ils ne s’esleuent point a l’encontre de nous a leur plaisir et sans resistance;” — “That they may not rise up against us at their pleasure, and without resistance.” To such considerations Paul here opposes confidence in Divine providence. He replies, I say, that the Lord is at hand, whose power can overcome their audacity, and whose goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that he will aid us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, who would not rather be protected by the hand of God alone, than have all the resources of the world at his command?

Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we learn, in the first place, that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all impatience, and that this is the reason why we are so quickly, and on trivial accounts, thrown into confusion, 232232     “Que nous sommes tout incontinent et pour vn rien troublez et esmeus;” — “That we are all at once and for nothing troubled and moved.” and often, too, become disheartened because we do not recognize the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the other hand, we learn that this is the only remedy for tranquillizing our minds — when we repose unreservedly in his providential care, as knowing that we are not exposed either to the rashness of fortune, or to the caprice of the wicked, 233233     “Ni au plaisir desborde des meschans;” — “Nor to the unbridled inclination of the wicked.” but are under the regulation of God’s fatherly care. In fine, the man that is in possession of this truth, that God is present with him, has what he may rest upon with security.

There are, however, two ways in which the Lord is said to be at hand — either because his judgment is at hand, or because he is prepared to give help to his own people, in which sense it is made use of here; and also in Psalm 145:18, The Lord is near to all that call upon him. The meaning therefore is, — “Miserable were the condition of the pious, if the Lord were at a distance from them.” But as he has received them under his protection and guardianship, and defends them by his hand, which is everywhere present, let them rest upon this consideration, that they may not be intimidated by the rage of the wicked. It is well known, and matter of common occurrence, that the term solicitudo (carefulness) is employed to denote that anxiety which proceeds from distrust of Divine power or help.

6 But in all things It is the singular number that is made use of by Paul, but is the neuter gender; the expression, therefore, is equivalent to omni negotio, (in every matter,) for (prayer) and (supplication) are feminine nouns. In these words he exhorts the Philippians, as David does all the pious in Psalm 55:22, and Peter also in 1 Peter 5:7, to cast all their care upon the Lord. For we are not made of iron, 234234     “Car nous ne sommes de fer ni d’acier (comme on dit) ne si insensibles;” — “For we are not of iron nor steel, as they say, nor so insensible.” so as not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this is our solace — to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true, brings tranquillity to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred asylum. 235235     “Comme a vne franchise;” — “As to a privilege.”

The term requests he employs here to denote desires or wishes. He would have us make these known to God by prayer and supplication, as though believers poured forth their hearts before God, when they commit themselves, and all that they have, to Him. Those, indeed, who look hither and thither to the vain comforts of the world, may appear to be in some degree relieved; but there is one sure refuge — leaning upon the Lord.

With thanksgiving As many often pray to God amiss, 236236     “Autrement qu’ils ne doyuent;” — “Otherwise than they ought.” full of complaints or of murmurings, as though they had just ground for accusing him, while others cannot brook delay, if he does not immediately gratify their desires, Paul on this account conjoins thanksgiving with prayers. It is as though he had said, that those things which are necessary for us ought to be desired by us from the Lord in such a way, that we, nevertheless, subject our affections to his good pleasure, and give thanks while presenting petitions. And, unquestionably, gratitude 237237     “La recognoissance des benefices de Dieu;” — “Gratitude for God’s benefits.” will have this effect upon us — that the will of God will be the grand sum of our desires.

7. And the peace of God Some, by turning the future tense into the optative mood, convert this statement into a prayer, but it is without proper foundation. For it is a promise in which he points out the advantage of a firm confidence in God, and invocation of him. “If you do that,” says he, “the peace of God will keep your minds and hearts.” Scripture is accustomed to divide the soul of man, as to its frailties, into two parts — the mind and the heart. The mind means the understanding, while the heart denotes all the disposition or inclinations. These two terms, therefore, include the entire soul, in this sense, — “The peace of God will guard you, so as to prevent you from turning back from God in wicked thoughts or desires.”

It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things, 238238     “De ces chc.ses basses;” — “Of these low things.” and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world, 239239     “N’est point en branle pour chanceler selon les changemens diuers du monde;” — “Is not in suspense so as to turn about according to the various shiftings of the world.” but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God. It is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as surpassing all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, nevertheless, a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to see opulence, and in the depth of weakness to keep from giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves that nothing will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things; and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself known otherwise than through the word, and the inward earnest of the Spirit.




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