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THE SPIRIT OF VITAL CHRISTIANITY
2 Timothy 1:7. God hath not given to us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
THE real character of Christianity, as infused into the soul of the believer, and exhibited in his life, is by no means generally understood. It forms a man of energy; but of energy combined with suavity, and regulated with discretion. In whomsoever it exists, it operates like a new creation: it changes, to a very considerable extent, the views, the dispositions, the habits of the soul, so as gradually to “transform a man into the Divine image in righteousness and true holiness.” It does not, indeed, so assimilate men, that they shall be in all things the same: there will still remain in every man so much of his original cast, as will occasion an endless diversity in the characteristic features of different saints. Not all the grace that God ever bestowed would produce a perfect identity of character between Peter and John: but the principles which divine grace instils into the soul are the same in every age and every place: and of all its subjects it may be said, “God has given to us, not a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
With a view to open and illustrate these gracious words, I will shew,
The spirit which God infuses into the souls of his people—
It is “not a spirit of fear”—
[“Fear” is discarded from the soul that is truly given up to God. There may remain, indeed, what I may call a constitutional fear; (some persons, whose piety cannot be doubted, have a strange and unaccountable fear of this or that animal [Note: A toad, for instance, or a mouse, or some insect.];) and no depth of religious principle will prevent its operation; for its seat is in the imagination, and not in the heart: but the fear of man, which has so great an ascendant over the carnal mind, will be dismissed; being subjected to, and, if I may so express myself, swallowed up by, the fear of God [Note: Luke 12:4-5.] — — —]
It is a spirit “of power”—
[A holy resolution will be formed to serve the Lord, and “to follow him fully.” Whatever means be used to deter a child of God from his purpose, he will hold on his way. Father, mother, brother, sister, houses, lands, yea, and life itself, are regarded by him as of no account, in comparison with his duty to God: he “hates them all” in comparison of his God and Saviour [Note: Luk 14:26]: as for sin, it is a foe which he pursues with unrelenting animosity, determined, through grace, that not one lust shall continue in him unmortified and unsubdued. His besetting sin, whatever it may be, is pursued by him with more than ordinary vigilance, if by any means he may prevail to bring it into subjection, and to destroy it utterly [Note: Hebrews 12:1.]. And he does advance from victory to victory; finding that, however weak he be in himself, “through the strength communicated to him from above, he can do all things [Note: Philippians 4:13.].”]
This power, however, is blended with a spirit “of love”—
[The energy which we have just spoken of has somewhat of an unamiable aspect; and would be unamiable in the highest degree, if it were not tempered with love. To resist all authority of parents, and the solicitations of most endeared relatives, bears with it an aspect of culpable self-will, and of deplorable self-conceit. The believer, therefore, must be particularly on his guard to cut off all occasion for such misapprehensions. His whole spirit must savour of love. He must shew, that whatever he does, he does from absolute necessity: and that, as far as love can operate in conformity to God’s will, no child of man shall exceed him in the cultivation of it. Even towards his persecutors this must be in active and continual exercise; his fixed determination being, “not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good [Note: Romans 12:21.].”]
Yet, not even love must be left to operate but under the direction of “a sound mind”—
[Enthusiasm is no part of true religion: it is rather in decided opposition to it: and is always the offspring of an ill-regulated mind. True religion is wisdom; and God, when infusing it into the soul, gives us “sound wisdom” and discretion [Note: Proverbs 2:7.]. A man under the influence of divine grace will pause before he acts; and will weigh, as in a balance, the claims of duty, as they may be affected by times and circumstances. He will carefully distinguish between things necessary, and things of only subordinate importance. He will attend to the time and manner of doing what he judges to be necessary; so as to strip it of all needless offence, and to “cut off occasion from those who seek occasion against him.” Both in the world and in the Church, he will be anxious so to demean himself, that all who behold him shall acknowledge that God is with him of a truth [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:32-33.]. He will give no needless offence in any thing; but will labour, with David, to “behave himself wisely in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].”]
But, that we may the better appreciate his spirit, we will mark,
Its peculiar importance, in order to a due discharge of the ministerial office—
The words before us were addressed more immediately to Timothy, a young and pious minister: and they deserve the very special attention of all who either are, or hereafter may be, engaged in the ministerial office.
In such must be found no spirit “of fear”—
[A minister is a standard-bearer: and if he faint, what must be expected of others? He must go with his life in his hand: he must “set his face as a flint” against the whole world [Note: Isaiah 50:7.]. No confederacies, whether of men or devils, must appal him [Note: Jer 1:17 and Ezekiel 2:6-7.]. His spirit must be that which is described by the prophet: “Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord; and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin [Note: Micah 3:8.].” And, in the midst of all the afflictions that can come upon him, he must say, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may but finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God [Note: Acts 20:24.].”]
But in them must be conspicuous a spirit “of power”—
[They have more difficulties to encounter than others. They stand in the forefront of the battle: and they must be examples, not to the world only, but to the whole Church of God. To Timothy, whilst quite a youth, it was said, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity [Note: 1 Timothy 4:12.].” If a minister be overcome of any evil, the injury done to the Church of God is incalculable. The whole ungodly world will take occasion from it to exult over him, and to “blaspheme the very name of God himself [Note: Rom 2:24]:” yea, they will harden themselves in their own iniquities, and impute to the Gospel itself the evils which they see in him [Note: 2 Peter 2:2.]. He must “be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; for then only shall his labour not be in vain in the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].”]
In them too, more especially, must be a spirit “of love”—
[Nothing but a love to immortal souls can reconcile them to all the labours and difficulties which they have to sustain. They should therefore “have compassion on them that are ignorant and out of the way [Note: Hebrews 5:2.]:” they should be able to “call God to witness that they have great heaviness and continual sorrow in their hearts” for their perishing fellow-creatures [Note: Romans 9:1-2.]: and they should be ready to welcome even death itself, if it may but be subservient to the spiritual welfare of their brethren [Note: Philippians 2:17-18.]. At the same time, their whole deportment should be regulated by this benign principle. Every thing they do should proceed from it; every thing which they suffer should call it into exercise: and their whole walk should be, like that of their Divine Master, in a spirit of love.]
But, in all their diversified circumstances, they must shew themselves under the influence of “a sound mind”—
[In no situation is wisdom so requisite, as in the discharge of the ministerial office: for, as the circumstances of the minister are more arduous, and his trials more diversified, than those of others, so a want of judgment in him is more deeply felt than in any other person; because the prejudices of many are strengthened by it, and the souls of many are hardened in their sins. A minister, therefore, must be particularly attentive to this point. He must have a well-regulated mind. His views, both of truth and duty, must be clear: his judgment, in relation to every thing, must be accurately and wisely formed. He must be freed from every bias that may influence his mind, and from every lust which may blind his eyes. He must be cool, considerate, prayerful: he must feel his entire dependence on God to guide him aright: and must cry to him for that “wisdom, which is profitable to direct.” And, where God has really fitted a man for the ministry, there will be, though in different degrees, “a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and of might, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; all concurring to make him quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 11:2-3.].”]
To you, then, who have not received this spirit, I would say, “Seek it of the Lord”—
[It is the gift of God: it cannot proceed from man: it may come to us through man; but it is from God alone, even from Him, “from whom cometh every good and perfect gift [Note: James 1:17.].” Whether we be ministers or private Christians, this spirit is indispensable to our eternal welfare. No man can be saved without it. “The fearful” shall go into the lake of fire, as certainly as “whoremongers or murderers [Note: Revelation 21:8.]:” the man who for want of strength draws back, “draws back unto perdition [Note: Hebrews 10:39.]:” the person destitute of love is no better than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal [Note: 1 Corinthians 13:1.]:” and the man devoid of wisdom will perish [Note: Proverbs 29:10.]. I say then, seek this spirit; “so shall you have good understanding, in the sight both of God and man [Note: Proverbs 3:4.].”
It is remarkable, that, when St. Paul is instructing Titus how to speak to the cases of both old people and young, he specifies many things which he would have him insist upon with old men and old women, and with young women also: but with young men, every thing that was essential was comprehended in one single point; “Exhort young men to be sober-minded [Note: Titus 2:6.].” On this, therefore, I would particularly insist; because with sobriety of mind every grace will flourish; but without it, no man can ever walk worthy of the Gospel, or adorn, as he ought, the doctrine of God our Saviour.]
To those who have received it, I would say, “Stir it up within you”—
This was the direction given to Timothy: “Stir up the gift of God that is in thee;” that is, stir it up, as you would a fire which is in a anguishing condition [Note: ἀναζωπυρεῖν, ver. 6.]. The fire, which burned upon the altar, came down, as you well know, from heaven; but it was to be kept alive by the care of man. So must the fire that is kindled in us be ever kept burning on the altar of our hearts: we must “stir it up,” by reading, meditation, and prayer: and the very opposition which is made to the Gospel must call forth in us the greater energy in its defence. Paul was now imprisoned for the Gospel sake. This might be a source of alarm to Timothy, and induce him to draw back from that measure of activity and zeal which might bring down similar vengeance upon his head. But the Apostle says to him, “Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel, according to the power of God [Note: ver. 8.].” So say I to you. Let “none of you be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;” but rather account it an honour if you are called to bear a measure of those afflictions which are allotted to the followers of the Lamb. They will try your graces: they will also tend to quicken them, and make them burn with redoubled brightness. Let growth in grace, then, be henceforth your great concern; and, whatever will conduce to that end, do it with diligence, or welcome it with delight.]
2 Timothy 1:9. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
THE deepest truths of our religion were familiar to the mind of the Apostle Paul. He introduced them, on all occasions, as the most forcible motives to obedience [Note: The consideration of God’s electing love is here urged as a motive to induce Timothy to constancy and perseverance in the path of duty.]. Amongst us, their practical efficacy is denied, and their importance questioned. The very maintaining of them is not unfrequently deemed a crime; but we must not conceal the truth, because some reprobate it as error. We will state it cautiously; and it will commend itself to all. In the text, we have ample instruction in relation to the Christian’s calling: we see,
The nature of it—
There is an outward call of the Gospel, which is resisted by many; but that of which the text speaks, is inward and effectual—
It is a call,
To salvation as the end—
[If it were only, as many think, a call to outward privileges, it still would establish God’s right to bestow his blessings on whomsoever he will [Note: If God has a right to confer the means of salvation on some and not on others, he has a right to confer salvation itself. If the one would be unjust, so must the other be; and if the one be admitted, so must also the other.]. But the Scriptures represent it as a call to the adoption of children [Note: Ephesians 1:5.], to eternal life [Note: Acts 13:48.], to everlasting salvation [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:9.]. The connexion between salvation and the call, is, as in the text, uniform and inseparable [Note: Romans 8:30.].]
To holiness as the way—
[If holiness were not included in the call, the doctrine of election would certainly be open to insurmountable objections: but holiness is that to which we are immediately and distinctly called [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:7. Hence it is denominated in the text, “an holy calling.”]. It is required of us, not only in general [Note: Hebrews 12:14.], but in this particular view [Note: 1 Peter 1:15-16.]. It is declared to have been particularly in the mind and intention of God, in our predestination [Note: Romans 8:29.], election [Note: Ephesians 1:4.], vocation [Note: 2 Peter 1:3.], and in the whole work of his grace upon our hearts [Note: Ephesians 2:10.]. Our perseverance also in good works was equally in his contemplation [Note: John 15:16.]. When our acceptance and salvation are most distinctly spoken of as the end, holiness is carefully stated as the medium through which we are to attain them [Note: 1 Peter 1:2. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.].]
The Christian’s calling is further to be considered, in reference to,
The grounds of it—
Nothing can be more plain than the Apostle’s statement: he tells us, both negatively, what our calling does not arise from; and positively, what it does:
It is not founded on our works—
[It cannot be founded on any good works already done; for we never had done, or could do any, till we were called by grace. It could not be founded on good works foreseen: for they were to be the fruits of our calling, and therefore could not be the ground or occasion of it. Had our works, whether done or foreseen, been the proper ground of our calling, we should have had a ground of boasting before God. Hence God has repeatedly and expressly declared, that they never operated in any respect or degree as inducements with him to confer upon us his converting grace [Note: Romans 11:5-6. Ephesians 2:9. Titus 3:5.].]
It is founded solely on his purpose and grace—
[God formed his purposes from all eternity [Note: Acts 15:18.]; and agreeably to them he acts [Note: Ephesians 1:11.]. In consequence of them we were given to Christ, as his purchased possession [Note: John 17:6. with Ephesians 1:4.]; and a promise of life was given to us in him, and for his sake [Note: Titus 1:2.]. It was in conformity to them that the Jews were made God’s peculiar people [Note: Deuteronomy 7:6-8.]; and in conformity to them we Gentiles also are called to a participation of his favour [Note: Romans 9:11; Romans 9:16.].]
From hence we shall take occasion to answer some important questions:
How shall I know whether I have been effectually called?
[It cannot be determined by any dreams, or visions, or fanciful experiences. It can be known only by the fruits which we produce [Note: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10. St. Paul judged by the change wrought in the life and conversation of his converts.].]
What have I to do on the supposition I have been called?
[You are not at liberty to indulge supineness, as though you were sure of heaven at all events. You should exceed all others in holiness, as much as you profess to surpass them in your prospects. You should walk worthy of the favours conferred upon you [Note: Ephesians 4:1.], and of the Benefactor who conferred them [Note: 1 Thessalonians 2:12.].]
What privileges do I enjoy as one of God’s elect?
[Survey the wheels of a watch, and see how, in all their complicated motions, they accomplish one important end. Thus does all the machinery of the universe, whether more or less connected with men or devils, move in reference to your present and eternal good. Of this you may be assured; and it may well endear to you the doctrines in the text [Note: Romans 8:28.].]
DEATH ABOLISHED, AND LIFE REVEALED
2 Timothy 1:10. Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
TO the free and sovereign grace of God must all our blessings be traced. Nothing did we ever merit at his hands, or can we ever merit, but wrath and indignation. From all eternity did God ordain to give us whatever he has bestowed. The gift of a Saviour was the fruit of his eternal love; as was also the gift of salvation by him. Both the one and the other are the fruit of his eternal counsels: and the appearing of Jesus Christ, as the author of these blessings, was, not the cause, but the result and evidence, of purposes already formed, even of “purposes which from all eternity he had purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord [Note: ver. 9, 10.].”
But, not to insist on this, I would call your attention simply to the fruits of God’s purpose; and shew you what, in consequence of his eternal counsels, the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. I will shew,
What he has done for us in his own person—
Death had been introduced by sin; and it reigned over the whole human race [Note: Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17. 1 Corinthians 15:22.]. In the curse denounced against transgression, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” both the body and the soul were alike consigned to death. But from this curse the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered us. “He has abolished death,”
From the soul—
[The soul, by reason of transgression, was despoiled of all spiritual life, and was doomed to everlasting death. But the Lord Jesus Christ, by “becoming a curse for us [Note: Galatians 3:13.],” has so cancelled our guilt, that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus [Note: Romans 8:1.].” His death has been a sufficient “propitiation for the sins of the whole world [Note: 1 John 2:2.]” — — — and “all who believe in him are justified from all things [Note: Acts 13:39.]” — — —
By his Holy Spirit, too, the same Divine Saviour removes spiritual death from our souls. He infuses into us a principle of life, whereby we are enabled to live unto our God in righteousness and true holiness. Previous to the implantation of this principle in our souls, we have no more activity in spiritual exercises than a dead body has of sense and motion. But, when raised by him, every sense receives a spiritual power and direction. We see, and hear, and taste, and feel, and savour the things of the Spirit — — — and “walk from thenceforth in newness of life” — — —]
From the body—
[True it is, that “the body is still subjected to death [Note: Romans 8:10.];” as it is said, “It is appointed unto men once to die [Note: Hebrews 9:27.].” But to those who believe in Christ, the nature and character of death are changed. It is not so properly death as sleep: “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth [Note: John 11:11-13.].” “Stephen,” in martyrdom, “fell asleep [Note: Acts 7:60.].” And all the saints, instead of dying, merely fall “asleep in Jesus [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:14.].” Hence we find the saints triumphing over it as a vanquished enemy [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.];” yea, and numbering it amongst their richest treasures: “All things are yours, whether life or death [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:22.].”
But, allowing it a short and momentary triumph, it will at last be totally “abolished.” For in the last day, all that are in the graves shall come forth, every one possessing his own proper body: for “what has been sown in corruption and weakness and dishonour, shall be raised in incorruption and power and glory;” and “this mortal shall put on immortality [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:42-43; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53.].” We see in our Lord Jesus Christ both a pattern and a pledge of our own resurrection: for “our vile bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body [Note: Philippians 3:21.],” and be partakers with the soul in all the glory and felicity of heaven — — —]
But let us further view,
What he has done for us through the instrumentality of his word—
“He has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”
These were not known to the heathen world. As for the resurrection of the body, it was derided by them, as a vain and foolish imagination: “What will this babbler say?” And, though some of the wiser philosophers entertained some faint conceptions about the immortality of the soul, it was in their minds a matter of surmise or of opinion only, and not of knowledge: it was never a fixed and operative principle in the minds of any, except the Jews; and even in their minds its operation was but very rare and partial. But the Lord Jesus Christ “brought life and immortality to light,”
As a matter of undoubted certainty—
[Through the whole of his ministry, he inculcated as of primary and indispensable importance, a regard to eternal life, both of body and soul [Note: Mark 9:43-48. Matthew 10:28.] — — —]
As the portion and inheritance of all his people—
[Though he declared that an eternal state awaited all, he made a broad distinction between his believing people and others. To the impenitent and unbelieving it would be a state of inconceivable misery; but to the obedient, a state of inconceivable and endless bliss: “The hour is coming,” says he, “in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto a resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to a resurrection of damnation [Note: John 5:28-29.].” Indeed, he sets before us the whole process of the day of judgment, and the doom that shall be assigned to all, according to their respective characters; “the wicked going away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal [Note: Matthew 25:31-46.].”]
As equally deserving the attention of every child of man—
[How merciful is the warning which he has given to all to “enter in at the strait gate, and to walk in the narrow way [Note: Matthew 7:13-14.]!” Surely the thought of an eternal existence, either in happiness or misery, should operate upon all; and, if duly contemplated, it will operate on all, to deter them from evil, and to stimulate them in the path of duty. It is impossible for one who cordially embraces this sentiment not to set himself in earnest to secure the happiness provided for him in the Gospel.]
See then, brethren,
How highly you are privileged above the heathen—
[There is not a child amongst us, that is not wiser in this respect than all the philosophers of Greece and Rome — — — But what if we do not improve our knowledge? Shall not the heathen rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us? Yes, verily: “the people of Tyre and Sidon, yea, of Sodom and Gomorrha, will find it more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than we,” if we do not avail ourselves of the light afforded us, to “flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on eternal life.”]
What obligations we owe to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—
[To Him we owe both the light that has discovered these things, and the salvation that renders this discovery so delightful. To what purpose would the eternity of rewards and punishments be made known to us, if a way to avoid the one, and obtain the other, had not been revealed? It would have only been to “torment us before our time.” In truth, there are none more miserable than they, who, being assured of the immortality of the soul, are ignorant of the way in which they may obtain acceptance with God. Glad would they be, if there were no future judgment. Glad would they be, if, when the time of their departure from the body arrives, they could be annihilated altogether. What is it that makes the very mention of death so painful to the generality of men? It is the dread of an hereafter, which offers to their view no prospect but of “wrath and fiery indignation to consume them.” But to you who believe in Christ, and look to him for the remission of your sins, all this gloom has passed away, and “glory and honour and immortality” present themselves to your view as your assured portion! O! bless that adorable Saviour, who by his own death has abolished death, and by his own ascension to glory has shewn to your the felicity that awaits you. Only hold fast your confidence firm unto the end, and his crown shall be your crown, his kingdom your kingdom, his glory your glory, for ever and ever.]
CONFIDENCE IN GOD A SOURCE OF CONSOLATION
2 Timothy 1:12. I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
MAN is born to trouble: and it is of the greatest importance to him that he should know where to turn his eyes in the day of adversity. The Gospel directs us to a reconciled God in Christ Jesus, who has engaged to be our support and comfort under every distress. The Christian has many trials peculiar to himself: but the Gospel is fully adequate to his necessities. Its power to support him may be seen in the passage before us. St. Paul is exhorting Timothy to steadfastness in the cause of Christ [Note: ver. 8.]: and, for his encouragement, he tells him what was the ground of his own consolations under the heavy afflictions which he was now enduring for the sake of Christ. He tells him, that, notwithstanding he was immured in a dungeon, and in daily expectation of a violent and cruel death, he was neither “ashamed” nor afraid: for that he had a firm persuasion of God’s ability to keep him; and that persuasion afforded him ample support.
To illustrate the text, we may observe,
The Christian commits his soul to God—
The Apostle doubtless committed unto God the concerns of the Church: but it is rather of his soul that he is speaking in the words before us, because it was that which alone could be in danger at the day of judgment. In like manner,
Every Christian commits his soul to God—
[We know what it is to commit a large sum of money to the care of a banker: and from thence we may attain a just notion of the Christian’s conduct. He has a soul which is of more value than the whole world: and he feels great anxiety that it should be preserved safely “against that day,” when God shall judge the world. But to whom shall he entrust it? He knows of none but God that can keep it; and therefore he goes to God, and solemnly commits it into his hands, entreating him to order all its concerns, and, in whatever way he shall see best, to fit it for glory.]
To this he is prompted by manifold considerations—
[He reflects on the fall of man in Paradise, and says, ‘Did Adam, when perfect, and possessed of all that he could wish, become a prey to the tempter, when the happiness of all his posterity, as well as his own, depended on his steadfastness; and can such a corrupt creature as I, surrounded as I am by innumerable temptations, hope to maintain my ground against my great adversary? O my God, let me not be for one moment left to myself; but take thou the charge of me; and let “my life be hid with Christ in God:” then, and then only, can I hope, that at the last coming of my Lord I shall appear with him in glory [Note: Colossians 3:3-4.].’
He bears in mind also his own weakness and ignorance. He is conscious that “he has not in himself a sufficiency even to think a good thought;” and that “it is not in him to direct his way aright.” Hence he desires to avail himself of the wisdom and power of God; and cries, “Lead me in the right way, because of mine enemies:” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.”
But more especially he considers the gracious commands of God. God has not only permitted, but enjoined, this surrender of our souls to him [Note: 1Pe 4:19 and Isaiah 26:20.]. O what a privilege does the Christian account it to obey this divine injunction! How thankful is he that God will condescend to accept this deposit, and to take care of this charge! Hence he avails himself of this privilege, and says, “Hide me under the shadow of thy wings!” “O save me for thy mercy’s sake!”]
Whilst he acts in this manner,
He is persuaded of God’s ability to keep him—
He does not merely presume upon God’s sufficiency: he is well persuaded of it,
From the report of others—
[He is informed by the inspired writers, that God created the world out of nothing; and that he upholds and orders every thing in it; insomuch that not a sparrow falls to the ground without his express permission. Hence then he argues; ‘Did God create my soul, and can he not uphold it? Did he form my enemies also, and can he not restrain them [Note: See this argument suggested by God himself, Isaiah 54:15-17. q. d. “Your enemies are forming weapons; but I formed them; and whatever skill they exercise, I will defeat their attempts.”]? Has he numbered even the hairs of my head, and will he overlook the concerns of my soul?’
He is told that God is ever seeking opportunities, not only to exert, but also to magnify, his power in his peoples cause [Note: 2 Chronicles 16:9. This is meant by “shewing himself strong.”]. Shall all that vigilance, then, be exercised in vain? or shall any be able to prevail against him?
He is assured also that God never yet lost one whom he had undertaken to keep: he never suffered “one of his little ones to perish [Note: Matthew 18:14.]. “None was ever plucked out of his hand [Note: John 10:28-29.]:” not the “smallest grain of wheat, however agitated in the sieve, was ever permitted to fall upon the earth [Note: Amos 9:9.].” “The gates of hell have never been able to prevail against his Church.” Then, says the Christian, “I will trust, and not be afraid.” My Saviour, in the days of his flesh, “lost none that had been given him [Note: John 18:9.]:” “Whom he loved, he loved to the end [Note: John 13:1.];” and therefore I am persuaded he will perfect that which concerneth me [Note: Psalms 138:8.], and “complete in me the good work he has begun [Note: Philippians 1:6.].”]
From his own experience—
[The Christian well remembers what he was by nature; and knows by daily experience what he should yet be, if Omnipotence were not exerted in his support. And hence he argues thus; ‘Has God created me anew, and by an invisible, but almighty, influence turned the tide of my affections, so that they now flow upward to the fountain from whence they sprang; and can he not keep me from going back? Has he kept me for many years, like the burning bush, encompassed, as it were, with the flame of my corruptions, yet not consumed by it; and “can any thing be too hard for him?” ’ — — —
These arguments are indeed of no weight for the conviction of others; but to the Christian himself they are a source of the strongest conviction, and of the richest consolation: yea, from these, more than from any others, lie is enabled to say, “I know whom I have believed.”]
This persuasion is a strong support to him under all his trials—
Many are the difficulties of the Christian’s warfare: but a persuasion of God’s ability to keep him,
Encourages him to duty—
[The path of duty is sometimes exceeding difficult: and too many have fainted in it, or been diverted from it. But we may see in the Hebrew Youths what a persuasion of God’s power will effect. They braved the furnace itself, from the consideration that God could deliver them from it, or support them in the midst of it [Note: Daniel 3:17-18.]. And thus will every Christian “encourage himself in God,” and “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”]
Strengthens him for conflict—
[Under temptations of Satan, or the hidings of God’s face, the most exalted Christian would sink, if he were not supported by this hope: “I had fainted,” says David, “unless I had believed verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” But the thought that the grace of Christ is sufficient for him, will turn all his sorrows into joy [Note: 2Co 12:9 and Romans 7:24.]: he will chide his dejected spirit [Note: Psalms 42:11.], and return again to the charge, knowing that at last “he shall be more than conqueror through Him that loved him [Note: Romans 8:37.].”]
Enables him to endure sufferings—
[Many and great were the sufferings of St. Paul; yet says he, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself.” Thus every Christian must “go through much tribulation in the way to the kingdom:” but he learns, not only to bear, but to “glory in tribulation,” because it gives him a more enlarged experience of God’s power and grace, and thereby confirms his hope, which shall never make him ashamed [Note: Romans 5:3-5.].]
Assures him of final victory—
[Those who have not just views of God are left in painful suspense: but they who know whom they have believed, are as much assured of victory, as if all their enemies were lying dead at their feet [Note: Compare Isaiah 50:7-9. with Romans 8:33-39.].]
We shall further improve the subject,
[All persons are ready to think that they are possessed of true and saving faith. But faith is not a mere assent to the truths of the Gospel, or even an approbation of them. It includes three things; a committing of the soul to Christ; a persuasion of his ability to save us; and a determination to go forward in dependence upon him, doing and suffering whatever we are called to in the path of duty.
Have we this faith? — — —]
For consolation— [Note: If this were the subject of a Funeral Sermon, the excellencies of the deceased might here be enumerated, and the survivors be comforted by the consideration that their Keeper lives for ever.] [If there be any amongst us weak and dejected, let them turn their eyes to God as their Almighty Friend. Let them know that “He is able to make them stand [Note: Romans 14:4.]:” he is “able to make all grace abound towards them, that they, having always all-sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work [Note: 2 Corinthians 9:8.].” It is God himself who suggests to the fainting soul these very considerations; and he requires nothing, but that we wait on him in order that we may experience their truth and efficacy [Note: Isaiah 40:27-31.] — — —
“Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen [Note: Jude, ver. 24, 25.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20