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SERMON V.

THE CHRISTIAN'S CONVERSATION.

PHILIPPIANS iii. 20.

“ Our conversation is in heaven.”

The apostle had just exhorted the Philippians to be followers together of him, and to mark them which walked according to the example of himself and his apostolical brethren. To those among them who heard this address, without possessing any correct view of the character and blessedness of Christ's disciples, the question would probably suggest itself:-“ On what principle do

you

thus exhort us? What is there either in

your condition or your prospects which should induce us to tread in your steps ? What class of persons is exposed to such privations and hardships, and so generally disowned by all who are respectable in society? To be followers together of you is to sacrifice every

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thing which is valuable in the estimation of mankind, and, so far as at present appears, without any equivalent.” To this possible objection the words of the text may be considered as furnishing a suitable answer; while at the same time they serve to remind the true Christian of his high character and his matchless privileges. Our conversation is in heaven : we are only as strangers and pilgrims on the earth ; our home is above. There is the city to which we belong, and to that place our contemplations, our hopes, and desires are perpetually directed.

According to this view of the text, we may understand the apostle as affirming, both on his own behalf and on that of all Christians who live in conformity with their principles, the following propositions :

I. WE DELIGHT IN HEAVENLY THINGS :
II. WE WALK BY HEAVENLY RULES :
III. WE PARTAKE OF

HEAVENLY PRIVI

LEGES.

These are the points upon which, for the expansion of his leading idea, it may

be

proper to dwell; and when I look at the practical nature of the subject, I would hope that we

may all by the blessing of God derive benefit from the consideration of it.

OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN.
I. WE DELIGHT IN HEAVENLY THINGS :

(1.) We are frequent therefore in our contemplation of them. The men of this world think chiefly of earthly things. Many who acknowledge the importance of religion would, upon a careful review of what passes in their minds, be surprised to discover how little it is in their thoughts. The real Christian is a man of different habits. He cannot, indeed, avoid giving much both of his time and his attention to the ordinary concerns of life; and to these concerns it is indeed his duty to attend ; but they are incapable of diverting him from objects of more serious importance. He is convinced that the things which accompany salvation deserve all the thought which he can possibly bestow upon them; and he habitually turns to them as of all subjects the most interesting to the renewed and enlightened mind. There are times when the most careless of men will either give, or pretend to give, themselves to spiritual considerations; but to those who mind earthly things it is a painful or an unsatisfactory task; a service

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of restraint; the heart is not in it; there is nothing which bespeaks a mind delightfully or even willingly occupied ; and when the occasion has gone by, a new train of thought, of a very different kind, presently banishes every serious impression.

With the true Christian, on the contrary, with the man whose heart is right towards God, it is a cheerful and voluntary engagement. He is glad to escape from less profitable reflections, and to take refuge in those which connect him with heaven. His delight is in the law of the Lord, in the revelation which has been made by the Holy Spirit, and in that law doth he meditate day and night.* He finds in the records of the divine will, and in the works and providence of God, inexhaustible sources of meditation, and these statutes are his songs in the house of his pilgrimage.t

(2.) And as his thoughts are much occupied about heavenly things, so also is he very desirous to attain to them. It is because he loves them and appreciates their value, that they are so much in his mind. His are not the cold notions of a man who merely assents to the * Psalm i. 2.

† Ps. cxix. 54.

excellency of the realities of heaven without any perception of their worth : he feels all the force of the question, What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? * He enters into the full spirit of the exclamation, Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thce! + 6. Let the course of this world be disposed in any way which infinite wisdom may appoint; I am well satisfied that so it should be; none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.S

(3.) This disposition and these desires will necessarily be followed by corresponding exertions to obtain salvation.

This he will consider as his great business upon earth; and having learned what he must do to be saved he will do it with all his might. How instructive in this view, as well as in other respects, is the character of St. Paul!

* Matt. xvi. 26.

+ Ps. lxxiii. 25.

Phil. iii. 8.

| Acts xx. 24.

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