Philippians 3:3
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--
Beware of the ConcisionJohn Donne, D. D.Philippians 3:3
DogsH. Airay, D. D.Philippians 3:3
DogsBishop Lightfoot.Philippians 3:3
Evil WorkersH. Airay, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Glorying in ChristProfessor Eadie.Philippians 3:3
God Should be WorshippedA. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Have no Confidence in the FleshT. Boston, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Rejoicing in Christ IsT. Boston, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Rejoicing in Christ JesusT. Manton, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Spiritual HeirshipBishop Huntington.Philippians 3:3
Spiritual WorshipT. Boston, D. D.Philippians 3:3
The Apostolic WarningR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:3
The Enemies of the ChurcProfessor Eadie.Philippians 3:3
The Inheritors of the PromisesS. Martin.Philippians 3:3
The Marks of a True ChristianD. Moore, M. A.Philippians 3:3
The True CircumcisionW. F. Adeney, M. A.Philippians 3:3
The True CircumcisionT. Boston, D. D.Philippians 3:3
Rejoicing, Eschewing, and ImitatingD. Thomas Philippians 3:1-3
Spiritual JudaismR.M. Edgar Philippians 3:1-3
Christian JoyJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
Grounds of Christian RejoicingJ. Lyth, D. D., W. D. Pope, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
It is God's Will that We Should Rejoice in HimPhilippians 3:1-11
Joy in the LordR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 3:1-11
Joy in the LordKnox Little.Philippians 3:1-11
Joy is not Always EcstasyH. W. Beecher.Philippians 3:1-11
Prideless PrideJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 3:1-11
Repeating the Same TeachingJ. Hutchison, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
RepetitionH. Airay, D. D., R. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Elevating Power of JoyKnox Little.Philippians 3:1-11
The Importance of Christian JoyR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 3:1-11
The Joy of Christian BrethrenR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Repetition of Old Truth IsJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Usefulness of RepetitioH. Melvill, B. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The True CircumcisionR. Finlayson Philippians 3:1-16
Identity not to be Found in Continuity of FormV. Hutton Philippians 3:2, 3
Serious Warning Against ErroristsT. Croskery Philippians 3:2, 3

The apostle, after counselling the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord, somewhat abruptly recalls the case of errorists of the Judaistic type, who, though not at Philippi, were not far from its boundaries. He deems it "safe" to give timely warning: "Beware of the dogs, of the evil-workers, of the concision."


1. They were "dogs in the Jewish sense, that is, impure and antichristian enemies of the truth. It would be a surprise for Jews to be descried by the epithet they themselves always applied so scornfully to Gentiles.

2. They were evil-workers." There was no want of religious activity among them, but it had a selfish and evil root. The apostle elsewhere speaks of "false apostles, deceitful workers" (2 Corinthians 11:13). The Pharisees "compassed sea and land to make one proselyte" (Matthew 23:15). But their zeal was essentially evil.

3. They were "the concision - the mutilation - who rejoiced in a mere manual, outward mutilation of the flesh, forgetful of the significance of the true circumcision.

II. FUNDAMENTAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN SUCH ERRORISTS AND THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." There are three characteristic points involved in the circumcision of heart which belongs to all true believers, whether Jews or Gentiles.

1. Their worship is essentially spiritual. They "worship by the Spirit of God." It was not a worship by mere external rites, as if all its merit consisted in rigid ritualistic conformities, but the true worship of God, which is only possible through the influence of his Holy Spirit (John 4:23; Romans 8:26), who "helps our infirmities" of supplication. It is the characteristic of saints that they "pray in the Holy Ghost' (Jude 1:20).

2. Their entire dependence is in Christ Jesus. "Who glory in Christ Jesus." This is the essential distinction of the Christian. "Let him that glorieth glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31). He does not glory in rites or ordinances, but in a personal Redeemer, who saves him from his sins.

3. They have no confidence in mere external privileges. "And have no confidence in the flesh." The primary allusion here may be to circumcision, but the clause points to the merely outward and earthly in religious form. The Judaists gloried in the flesh. "Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also" (2 Corinthians 11:18; Galatians 6:13, 14). - T.C.

For we are the circumcision
I. SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. There must be present worship. The rite of circumcision was administered once for all, and as an external badge this was sufficient. But true religion is a matter of daily life. A circumcised Jew who lived in sin was no true Jew; a baptized Christian may behave like a man of the world, in which case his baptism counts for nothing. The heart and soul of religion is personal devotion, daily worship.

2. This worship must be an inspiration of the Spirit of God. All worship requires some support. The formal worship of the Jew rested on ceremonies. When these were absent the worship perished. The Christian rests upon the influences of the Spirit, and where this is there is Divine life.

II. CHRISTIAN ENTHUSIASM. The expression "glory in Christ Jesus," points to this.

1. The secret of the deepest religious life is personal devotion to Christ. Jesus at once demands adoration by His Spiritual greatness, and wins affection by His human sympathy.

2. This devotion is inspired by joyous enthusiasm. The Jew gloried in Abraham, but a greater than Abraham is here.

III. FREEDOM FROM SUPERSTITION. For us, like Paul (see sequel),to cast off all confidence in privileged birth in a Christian home, membership in a historic Church, observance of venerable rites, and to trust wholly in spiritual religion, is a confirming sign of Divine sonship better than any rite such as circumcision.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

I. THE SACRAMENTS OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS ARE IN SUBSTANCE THE SAME. The Philippians who were baptized with water and the Holy Ghost are said to be circumcised. And so the apostle attributes our baptism and Lord's supper after a sort to the Church of the Jews (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). As the covenant was always the same in substance, so the seals of it were the same too.

II. THE REALITY OF THAT WHICH SEDUCERS PRETEND TO, WILL MORE READILY BE FOUND IN THOSE THAT CONSCIENTIOUSLY OPPOSE THEM. These men ran down the apostle and others, giving out themselves only for the circumcised ones. But the apostle proves he had the better claim. Thus the works of holiness are to be found more with those that press justification by faith, than with others who would be looked on as great patrons of good works. Be not, then, deceived with fair speeches; examine matters to the bottom. Often those who have the highest pretences to right on their side go farthest from it.


1. All it can do is to give a name before men which they lose before God (Romans 2:28-29). Christian may be an honourable title before men, and an empty title before God.

2. The sign is a mere external thing on which nothing of weight for salvation can hang, and therefore when the Lord comes to judgment, He throws down all together (Jeremiah 9:25-26). For He looks not to the outward appearance but to the heart.

3. It is an inefficacious thing; as a body without a spirit. He who has got the sign only, has only the meanest half of the sacrament. Sacraments are seals of the covenant; but where there is no covenant there can be no seal; and what avails a seal at a blank.

4. Men in Christ's livery may abide in the devil's service and meet with his doom (Luke 13:26-27).

5. To apply all this.(1) Baptism with water without the Holy Spirit is little worth. Many never reflect seriously on their baptism. Hence they live as though they had never sworn allegiance to the King of heaven, and were entirely their own, and will never renew it. Let me ask as touching this baptism:(a) Baptized ye were with water, but were ye ever baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire — the thing signified? Alas, in consequence of the want of this, the universal coldness in the things of God.(b) Hast thou realized that only the blood and Spirit of Christ can cleanse thee? In baptism is a profession of this. If not what avails thy baptism.(c) Wast thou ever made partaker of the washing of regeneration? (Titus 3:5-6). Unto what then were ye baptized? (Acts 19:2).(d) Where ye ever cut off from the old stock of Adam and ingrafted into Christ? (1 Corinthians 12:13). Baptized into the name of Christ, and yet not in Christ, but without Him makes sad work.(e) Are lusts reigning: or are they dying, and your souls living a new life? (Romans 6:5-6). Has the water been but as that thrown upon a corpse?(2) The Lord's supper without the thing signified is little worth. To be partakers of the bread of the Lord without the bread which is the Lord will go but small length (John 6:57).

IV. BELIEVERS IN CHRIST ARE THE TRUE CIRCUMCISION. They have in spirit which the Jews, by this ordinance, only had in the letter. Circumcision was —

1. A token of God's covenant (Genesis 17:7-11). This honour have all God's saints to have God Himself to be ours.

2. A distinction between Jews and others, as God's people (Genesis 17:4). So believers are God's people, His garden, while others are but His out field.

3. A cutting off of part of the flesh, signifying the believer's privilege and duty (Colossians 2:11). Their hearts are circumcised to love the Lord; their ears to hear Him; their lips to speak for Him.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

There are many things that have a name to live and are dead: faith without works; the form of godliness without the power; sacraments without holy desires; Christians without union with Christ. In exposing this the apostle's intention was not to disparage the Old Testament sacraments, but to show that in common with the New their value consisted in their spiritual use and significance, in their connection with the moral affections, in their leading to Him who is the end of all sacraments. Consider —


1. The word worship may be taken in the larger sense which includes all religious service. From which we learn that the believer's life is to be one continued act of worship; his body is a living temple; his heart an altar for daily sacrifice; his calling that of "a priest unto God;" his whole conversation one hymn of praise. To worship God in the spirit, then, is to worship Him in the life. The fire of sacrifice is to come down on the domestic hearth, and "holiness unto the Lord" is to be written "on the bells of the horses."

2. Still the reference to the Old Testament ritual would suggest that "worship" points to certain religious actions. To worship God in the spirit, then, is to worship Him —(1) In simplicity as distinguished from hypocrisy. It is a fearful thing when a miser prays to be delivered from covetousness, a vindictive man from "malice, hatred," etc.(2) With reverence, as distinguished from all permitted indifference, deadness, reluctance, clockwork piety. Our heart and tongue should go together. Moses left his sandals at the foot of the mount, too many take their sandals and leave their hearts behind.(3) In earnestness, as if we felt that important interests were suspended. The two worships are distinguished in that in one case an end is looked for, in the other the only care is to get the work done.

II. THE OBJECT OF THE BELIEVER'S JOY. We rejoice in Christ Jesus.

1. For the glory of His character.

2. For the dignity of His offices.

3. The blessedness of His work.

4. The completeness of His salvation.

5. The freedom of His service.

6. The reasonableness of His commands.

7. The unutterable recompences of His rewards.


1. By "the flesh" St. Paul means anything that we are or have. The flesh in its best estate is a corrupt thing, and can therefore be no proper ground for confidence.

2. The apostle would take away our confidence from everything that is not Christ. He not only excludes all outward distinctions, national privileges, moral excellencies and attainments, but he strikes at that refined and subtle fallacy of Romanism which would lead us to have confidence in some indwelling grace, which would give efficacy to tears and perfection to human sanctity. St. Paul knew that it was not grace in the saints, but grace in Christ, that was to save him, and in that he could feel unbounded confidence.

(D. Moore, M. A.)


1. To worship God in the spirit is —

(1)To worship God as a spirit.

(2)With our own spirit.

(3)By the help of the Holy Spirit.To worship God in the flesh would be to worship God as though He were flesh, with the powers of the body alone, and by the influences and aids which work on the body (John 4:23; Malachi 1:11).

2. To rejoice in Christ Jesus is not only to believe in Him and receive Him, but gladly and gratefully to accept all His work and gifts and services, being cleansed by His blood, made righteous by His obedience, and being reconciled by His mediation (1 Peter 1:8). And if we connect this with the former, then it means to worship, pleading Christ's sacrifice, trusting in His advocacy, and making Him in all respects our way to God.

3. Having no confidence, etc. What he means by flesh is evident from the words following — the administration of ordinances, birth of high noble blood, earnest external obedience. The flesh is the outward and material, not the inward and spiritual. Now, if we connect this third qualification with the first, to have no confidence in the flesh is to use the material without abusing it, making it secondary and subservient, to employ as much of the outward form in worship as is essential to spirit and life, but never as a substitute.

II. THE LOFTY POSITION PAUL CLAIMS. The practice of circumcision existed, it may be, before it was imposed on Abraham, but it was ordained by God mainly with a spiritual object (Genesis 17:10, etc.), as the sign and seal of the Divine covenant; it testified to God's faithfulness. What advantages then, hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? (Romans 9:4-5). Like privileges are possessed by such as worship God in the spirit, etc.

1. They are the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.

2. They behold the bright ness of the Father's glory (John 1:14, 18).

3. They are the inheritors of great and precious promises. Even the promises made to Abraham are theirs (Romans 4:11-13, 16; Galatians 3:7-9). But the believer is interested in a better covenant, established in better promises.(1) A country was promised to Abraham — a good land; but Canaan shared in the universal curse. But the land promised to the Christian is a better country.(2) It was promised to Abraham that his seed should become a great nation — those who rejoice in Christ are a holy nation, a peculiar people.(3) God promised to Abraham to be his God, etc., and so (2 Corinthians 6:15) —

4. They are favoured with special Divine revelations (Hebrews 8:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

5. They are a royal priesthood.

6. They are connected with an ancient and sacred lineage. The Jew claimed Abraham as his father, and all the illustrious patriarchs and prophets as ancestors; but they whom Paul describes may claim as ancestors all who have like precious faith in every age.

7. While of the Israelites as concerning the flesh Christ came; of those, whom Paul describes, Christ comes as a gospel and a revelation to the world (2 Corinthians 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3).Conclusion:

1. Let us claim to be the circumcision in the presence of the Jew. To him, if he rejoice not in Christ Jesus we say, Your circumcision is counted uncircumcision: We are Abraham's seed, and he is an alien. We envy not his connection by blood; we have a tie less corruptible. 2, We claim this position as Christians of simple customs, in spite of some who would withhold it because we follow not with them. We notice the stress which such lay upon consecrated edifices, sacramental efficacy, an authorized ministry, uniformity. We affirm that spiritual worship consecrates any structure, constitutes the worshipper a priest, and renders the simplest forms full of power and life.

3. We claim this in the face of the world; and if men demand of us a style and order of worship which would undermine spirituality, divert our complacency from Christ, and foster confidence in the flesh, let us not only not conform to their requirements, but let us deny that conformity would secure any increase of acceptableness or power.(1) Of power! What is mightier than spiritual worship? What show of strength exceeds that manifest by rejoicing in Jesus? And is "no confidence in the flesh" loss of power (Jeremiah 17:5-8).(2) And is there no beauty in simplicity? The utmost and highest is to be found in an assembly which worships God, etc.

4. Let us in godly fellow ship with all true churches maintain this position.

(S. Martin.)

1. A scholar trained at the feet of Gamaliel kneels before the Father "in spirit"; a Pharisee of the strictest sect has his shrunk heart expanded into "joy in Christ Jesus"; a proud professor feels "no confidence in the flesh." "We are the circumcision," he says, after this thorough readjusting of His religious relations. He thought so, as a Jew, when there was none to dispute the claim. As a Christian, with all Jewry despising that claim, he is sure of it.

2. Now to be able to say, "We are the circumcision," to be clearly conscious of standing in the right line of spiritual descent is no mean distinction, no unproductive element in our expectations, that we should alienate it without cause.

I. THOUGHTFUL STUDENTS CAN HARDLY DOUBT THAT GOD HAS MEANT HIS CHURCH TO MAINTAIN AN HISTORIC UNITY. No bend in its growth has ever been so abrupt as to choke the sap or sever the commerce of any branch with the root. Each moral revolution no less than each theological variation proves that the essence of faith is not perishable. Something of primitive power goes into the least offshoot. The three dispensations lay their ordaining hands on its head, with patriarchal blessings, Levitical unction, and gospel baptism. Let any holy family pitch its tent where it will, it shall not be out of that Divine order; reaching backward and forward — Calvary, Sinai, Mamre.

II. BUT BLENDED WITH THIS LAW OF ITS HISTORY, THE CHURCH HAS TO RECOGNIZE ANOTHER, constantly counterbalancing the gravitation towards indolence which might accrue from the former alone, and checking its complacency. For as it advances, some unexpected crisis is always breaking up the old distribution of forces; the original Providence readjusts the lines. Dismissing former tests of legitimacy, it brings fresh affiliations into the family, showing those often to be of "the circumcision" that had before been reckoned of the alienage; and disowning sons who forfeit favour by sinning against the Holy Ghost. Men claim to be Christians by birth; offer as a spiritual qualification, not a confession of faith, but a pedigree. Something like this has always been a presumption of religious majorities. And, as if to rebuff it, the propensity to proscription is no sooner settled, than a reformation is sent to disturb it. Some , some , or some Popish lineage is always secularizing the Church, and then some impracticable Wycliffe, dissenting Baxter, or erratic Huss, sloughs the form to act out the substance. Hypocrites vitiate the succession, and heretics ennoble the new blood. When the Jews refuse the apostle of their salvation, lo! he turns to the Gentiles. As if purposely to break up confidence in mere ecclesiasticism and clear the gospel of bondage, the visible Church is scarcely at any epoch suffered to enfold the Church spiritual with a clear circumference. And the instant any majority begins to be at ease in Zion, some terrible prophet comes crying out of the wilderness, "Repent!" shows what circumcision is, and turns the world of the Rabbis upside down. But always, observe, the old faith goes into the living body.

(Bishop Huntington.)

Worship God in the Spirit

1. Christ has respect to the whole of our service and obedience to God. The parts of it are two: holiness, or our duty to God; righteousness, or our duty to man (Luke 1:74-75). The Christian life is, as it were, one continued act of worship, where all our actions, natural, civil, and religious, meet in God (Acts 26:7; Revelation 7:15).

2. It has respect to those duties which are properly parts of worship. The Christian(1) worships God with his heart, soul, and spirit, and not with his body only (Romans 1:9; John 4:24). This implies(a) internal worship, called for by the first commandment. The true Christian's soul is a temple of God.(b) Outward joined to inward (1 Corinthians 6:20).(c) Spirituality — faith; love; goodwill; sincerity.(2) By assistance from and influence of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; Jude 1:20).(a) The Spirit gives habitual grace to make men capable of spiritual worship (John 3:6).(b) He gives actual grace, influences to stir up grace (Romans 7:26).


1. All true Christians have it, for —(1) All of them are spiritual (John 3:6). Everything that brings forth, brings forth its like.(2) All of them have the Spirit of God dwelling in them (Romans 8:9).(3) That worship which is merely outward is but the carcase of duties, unacceptable to God; and they who never perform more are hypocrites (Matthew 15:7-8).(4) External worship is properly but the means of worship. Prayer, hearing, etc., tend to the promotion of love, trust, etc., and the enjoyment of God can never be found but in worshipping Him in the Spirit.

2. That none but true Christians have this privilege is plain from this, that all others are in the flesh (Jude 1:19).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. WITH A KNOWLEDGE OF HIS TRUE CHARACTER. Otherwise it is mere Athenian worship. This is the great fault of the heathen. Hence the great importance of religious knowledge. This may be obtained from nature, and our own persons. And yet with all the perfections of deity before their eyes men do not like to retain God in their knowledge. But as man is a fallen creature, the knowledge which reason can furnish is not sufficient. Christ does not reveal His mercy, and show how sinners can be pardoned and restored. So God has revealed Himself in His Word, and now man is utterly without excuse if he do not know God and worship Him.

II. WITH REVERENCE. This sentiment is natural when we come before any superior, how much more when we come before God. This is no slavish or superstitious dread, but that by virtue of which God's children are distinguished from the wicked who have no fear of God before their eyes. God is a jealous God, and abominates levity. Reverence is the most prominent feature of angelic worship. How shocking then is familiarity in the worship of man.

III. HUMILITY. Nothing is more odious to God than pride, and nothing more acceptable than the contrite spirit. He dwells with such. It is most proper in regard to man's moral and God's exalted state, and upon it Christ pronounced his beatitudes.

IV. FAITH. Without this it is impossible to please God, and all worship must become an empty form. Its principal exercise has respect to Christ as the Mediator.

V. CONCENTRATION. Spiritual worship is interrupted by nothing so much as the wandering of our thoughts, and is one of the accusations brought against God's ancient people.

VI. FERVENCY. The crying defect of our worship is want of heart.

VII. SCRIPTURAL, with such rites as God has appointed, and those only. As to external circumstances, time, place, attitude, these should be regulated by the apostle's rule, "Let all things be done decently and in order;" but as it relates to the worship itself, nothing should be introduced but what is authorized by the Scriptures, such as prayer, singing, reading, administering the sacraments. "In vain do they worship Me," etc. "Who hath required this at your hands."

VIII. FREQUENCY. Men are not required to spend their whole time at it. But God should be worshipped morning and evening; and the Lord's day should be entirely devoted to the Lord's service. We cannot go to an excess here unless we make this duty exclude others which are equally incumbent. "Pray without ceasing."

(A. Alexander, D. D.)

Rejoice in Christ Jesus

1. It is an act of love. The acts of love are desire and delight, and they both agree in this Chat they are conversant about good, and are founded in esteem. But they differ because desire is the motion and exercise of love, and delight the quiet and repose of it. All, however, meet in Christ.

2. It is an act of love begotten in us by the sense of the love of Christ (1 John 4:19). The object of love is goodness.(1) The goodness that is in Christ, moral and beneficial (Psalm 119:140; Psalm 100:5; Psalm 119:68).(2) The goodness that floweth from Him (Titus 3:4).(3) The goodness we expect from Him in this world and the next (Luke 7:47; Matthew 5:12).

3. This love of Christ —(1) Is revealed in the gospel (Acts 13:48).(2) Is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5).(3) Is received by faith (1 Peter 1:18; Romans 15:13), which faith is(a) assent, a certain belief of the truth of the gospel concerning Christ as the only sufficient Saviour (John 4:42; John 6:69).(b) Consent, a readiness to obey the gospel.(c) Affiance, a reposing of our hearts on God's promise of pardon and eternal life (Hebrews 3:6).(4) Is improved by meditation (Psalm 104:34).(5) Is enjoyed more than all other things whatsoever (Psalm 35:9; Psalm 63:5; Psalm 73:25).


1. It is such a joy as doth enlarge the heart in duty and strengthens us in the way of God (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 119:14; Psalm 40:8). The hardest services are sweetened by the love of Christ.

2. It is a cordial to fortify us against and to sweeten —(1) Common afflictions (Habakkuk 3:17-18; Romans 12:12; Hebrews 12:2).(2) Persecutions (Acts 5:41; Hebrews 10:34; Matthew 5:12; 1 Peter 4:13; James 1:2).

3. It draws off the heart from the delights of the flesh.


1. A sense of sin and misery. The grievousness of the disease makes recovery the more delightful.

2. An entire confidence in Christ (1 Peter 2:7; Philippians 3:8).

3. A constant use of the means.

(1)The Word;

(2)prayer (John 16:24).

(3)The sacraments.

4. Sincerity of obedience (1 Corinthians 5:8).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. A HOLY COMPLACENCY IN HIM. We cannot be well pleased with anything unless we see a suitableness in it to us. There is a three-fold suitableness of Christ.

1. A suitable ness to the Divine perfections concerned in the salvation of sinners that is sweetly discerned by the believer and acquiesced in (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

2. A suitableness of Christ to the ease of the soul which the believer sees and is pleased with. If you lodge a starving man in a palace, clothe him with costly attire, and fill his pockets with gold, what good can these do him? They are not meat, and so are not suitable to his case. But Christ is to ours every way (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and no one else is.(1) As He is God-man; the Mediator answering at once the honour of God and the sinner's necessities.(2) In His offices. As Prophet, the Interpreter of the Father's mind; as Priest, the Atonement and Intercessor; as King, the Conqueror and Ruler.

3. A suitableness to the mind, or we could not rejoice in Him. He is suited to every unbeliever's case, but alas! not to their minds. Give a natural man his idols, the drunkard his cups, the miser his gold, these are suitable to their mind, but as unsuitable to their case as a sword for a madman or poison for the sick. But the believer is made partaker of the Divine nature, and Christ is, therefore, suitable not only to his case but to his mind (1 Peter 2:4; Psalm 73:25). There is none beside Him, none like Him, none after Him — the altogether lovely. Believers are pleased at heart —(1) That He should build the temple of the Lord, and have the glory of it (Zechariah 6:12-13) as is appointed of God. But this suits not the minds of natural men (1 Peter 2:7-8).(2) With His laws (Isaiah 33:22). Christ's yoke is welcome to them because His law is suitable to them, and they to it (Psalm 119:128), for it is written on their hearts.(3) With the fulness of the spirit of sanctification which He communicates (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). There is nothing the true believer rejoices in more than the Christ-given spirit of holiness imparted, enjoyed, and acted out.


1. Their weight of guilt — "through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:25). Christ is the city of refuge from the law.

2. Their weight of duties.(1) For performance. Christ lays His yoke upon the believer, and he receives it and lays himself and it again on Christ the fountain of strength. Hence it becomes an easy yoke, which before was insupportable. For duties are a dead weight while laid on by the hand of the law (John 15:5), but from Christ the believer receives a kind of derived omnipotency (Philippians 4:13; Philippians 2:13). He makes the will for the work, and the work for us when He has wrought the will for it.(2) For acceptance (Hebrews 11:4). Duties rightly done are the returns of influences from heaven which are communicated from Christ, and so go back through Him.

III. A REST OF THE HEART IN CHRIST AS A FIT MATCH FOR THE SOUL. For as in marriage there is first a view of such a person as a fit match, whereupon follows choice and acceptance; and in case the person chosen answer the expectation, there ariseth a rest which is solid joy, so it is when the soul is pleased with Christ. There is found in Him —

1. Rest for the conscience: otherwise there is none except where it be lulled to sleep. Now Christ finds His elect seeking rest and finding none in the law; He gives it them through His blood (Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7).

2. Rest for the heart.(1) Our hearts are full of desires of happiness which crave for satisfaction. Hence universal human restlessness.(2) The natural man goeth through the dry places of the creature seeking rest and finding none (Jeremiah 2:3; Ecclesiastes 10:15; Isaiah 55:2). Christ finds His elect thus wandering, and discovers Himself as the fountain of satisfaction, and the desires of the soul centreing and meeting in Christ abide in Him and are satisfied (Psalm 73:25; Philippians 4:18; 2 Samuel 23:5).

IV. A CONFESSION OF CHRIST UNTO SALVATION. This is plainly intimated in the original "glorying in Christ." As the image of God impressed on man's soul at creation shone through his body, as a candle through a lantern, so that complacency, confidence, and rest of the heart in Christ will shine forth in the life.

1. With respect to the believer's ordinary conversation.(1) This inward rejoicing wears off the air of pride (1 Peter 5:5).(2) Grace will circumcise the self-commending lips.(3) Gracious souls will readily discover in their serious converse a tendency towards the grace of Christ.(4) Rejoicing in Christ will make men tender in their judgment of others (Galatians 6:1).(5) Such as rejoice in Christ will have familiar converse with the Word, and relish of it (Isaiah 59:21).(6) They will have a respect to the place where Christ's honour dwells, and to ordinances (Psalm 63:1-2).

2. With respect to suffering.

(1)The saints will keep on Christ's side though it be lowest.

(2)They will be resigned and contented.

(3)They will glory in any cross Christ puts upon them.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. NEGATIVELY. The true circumcision gloried not —

1. In themselves.

2. In anything about themselves — circumcision or Abrahamic descent.

3. In Christ and something else — in Him and Moses.

II. POSITIVELY. They gloried in Christ.

1. In His great condescension.

2. In His birth and its wonders.

3. In His life and its blessings.

4. In His death and its benefits.

5. In His resurrection and ascension, and their pledges.

6. In His return, and its stupendous and permanent results.

(Professor Eadie.)

This is an inference from the last, and means that the Christian who rejoices in Christ hath no confidence in anything that is not Christ or in Christ.


1. The saints have no confidence in external things.(1) Man's externals — things which God never made duty, but are made so by man (Matthew 15:9). All unscriptural institutions, opinions, and practices, under whatever pretensions of holiness, carry off men from Christ and are subservient to self (Matthew 15:4-6; Corinthians 18-21).(2) Nor even in God's externals. E.g.(a) In their external condition in the world which we receive by God's providence. The carnal poor think that thereby they will be relieved of eternal poverty, and the carnal rich in this world, that they will be before others in the world to come (Hosea 12:8; Romans 14:17). You may be miserable here and through eternity (Job 15:23-24); or fare sumptuously here and be in torment by and by (Luke 16).(b) In their external privileges (vers. 5, 7; 2 Corinthians 5:16; Luke 13:26-27).(c) In their external attainments (vers. 6-7). Great confidence have some in their negative holiness (Luke 18:11; Matthew 5:20).(d) In their external duties (ver. 8). There are two classes opposite to the Christian in this — the ignorant, who do little or nothing, and yet say they serve God as well as they can; and those who have the full form of godliness and rest in that. But as they are mere external duties they are abominable to God (Isaiah 1:11, etc.; Mark 10:20-21).(e) In their external sufferings. The glorified put nothing down to their tribulation, but all to Christ's blood. "Therefore are they before the throne."

2. The saints have no confidence for the favour of God in internals. There is no exception but one (Colossians 1:27). They have no confidence in internal —(1) dispositions (Proverbs 28:26). Many have a confidence in what they call their good hearts; but if God's testimony is to be believed, it is a false confidence (Jeremiah 17:9).(2) Exercises on their own spirits.(3) Attainments (Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:8).(4) Graces.

II. IN POINT OF SANCTIFICATION. As they have taken Him alone for justification, so for this (1 Corinthians 1:30). The saints have no confidence for this.

1. In their stock of natural and acquired abilities (2 Corinthians 3:51), knowledge, utterance, good temper, etc.

2. In the means, such as the Word, sacraments, prayer, etc. Knowing that it is the Spirit that quickeneth (John 6:63).

3. In their purposes and resolutions for holiness (2 Timothy 1:12).

4. In their vows and engagements to holiness (Isaiah 45:23-24).

5. In their own endeavours after holiness (Psalm 127:1).

6. In the good frame and disposition of their hearts, i.e., in actual grace, a most desirable thing, but no staff to lean upon (1 Chronicles 29:17-18).

7. In habitual grace. Paul had a good stock of it, but he did not venture to live on it (Galatians 2:20). Grace within the saints is a well whose springs are often dry; but the grace without them in Christ is an ever-flowing fountain (John 6:57).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

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