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2 TIMOTHY I. 12.
For the which cause I also suffer these things ; nevertheless
I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
IT is appointed for all men once to die, and after death, the judgment. Death and judgment are awful in themselves, and of the last importance to every Gospel hearer. Death is the king of terrors. It will be dreadful beyond expression to all who shall feel its sting. Thrice happy they who can, on good grounds, triumph in views of it! Christ has conquered all our foes, and death among the rest. However powerful in itself, he has disarmed it to the believer. Nothing but an acquaintance with and interest in Christ can fortify the mind against the fear of death. If persons have their interest in him ascertained, instead of shrinking, they may desire death as the end of their miseries, an inlet to complete happiness, and chiefly as it introduces them into the presence of Christ, to go no more out. A desire to depart and be with Christ was the apostle's
habitual temper of mind. He was now ready to be offered up, and the time of his departure was at hand. Death in its most formidable aspect was before him; but instead of cowardice and fear, he displayed the greatest fortitude. In the text we have an account of what supported him; he knew whom he had believed, and was persuaded that he was able to keep what he had committed to him.
The happiness the Redeemer had already bestowed on him, and the crown of righteousness which he was certain was reserved for him in heaven, not only reconciled his mind to ignominy and death, but made him glory in tribulation. The same causes will produce the same effects. Christians, possessed of like precious faith, animated by the same hope, and certain about their calling and election, will, for the joy set before them, endure the cross, despising the shame. With Paul, they will triumph over death, and enter its dark isle with confidence and praise. If called to suffer in their Master's cause, they will not only be supported, but comforted, and enabled to rejoice under the severest tortures, and in the midst of the flames, knowing whom they have believed.
This is reckoned the last epistle Paul wrote. In it he warns Timothy, and every follower of Christ, of the dangers and hardships to which a public and avowed profession of the Gospel would expose them. It would render them the mark of public scorn and malice, expose them to reproach and contumely, make them the offscouring of all things, and perhaps subject them to stripes, imprisonment, and death. The apostle encourages to steadfastness from his own
example. He sets before them the tender care of the Redeemer about him in all his afflictions. He assures them that, even when all men forsook him, the Lord stood by him. He tells them that Christ would be equally tender of all his people to the end. He assures them that under all their sufferings Christ would support and comfort them by his gracious presence, and at last receive them to himself. Whatever their outward man might suffer, he would take care of what they had committed to him against that day.
This text would admit of a diffusive method, and a large discussion. We only propose to offer some observations to illustrate these precious words, and then subjoin some application. The following observations may be offered.
1. Faith in all its actings ultimately eyes a Person. It fixes upon the Redeemer. The apostle says, I know whom I have believed. Faith may differ in degrees of strength and activity in different persons; but never in its nature. The primary object of faith is the Divine testimony. It believes what God has spoken, and, taken in a large sense, includes an assent to the precepts and threatenings. But as these, strictly speaking, do not belong to the Gospel, the glad tidings of pure revelation, faith chiefly assents to the promises and the glorious doctrines which explain them. Possessed of faith, the soul considers the promises as addressed to sinners without exception, and to itself in particular. As they have the nature of an offer, faith assents to their
veracity, desires the good in them, and is inclined to receive the benefit.
As promises must be made by some person; faith eyes God as making the promises of salvation. As the Gospel knows nothing of God out of Christ; faith never goes beyond the Gospel for its information, and therefore always views him only as in Christ. As God deals with sinners only in Christ, faith never deals with God but in him. It embraces him as the one Mediator. It sees all the promises originally made to him, and ratified by his blood. It perceives him able and willing to accomplish them all, and accordingly receives and rests upon him.
2. No sooner does faith discover Christ, than it commits to him great and important concerns, assured that he, and no other, can be trusted. Faith never sees Christ and continues inactive. Paul got a saving sight of Jesus of Nazareth, and committed his soul to him. It is in the light of faith that men discover the importance of eternal concerns. It looks at the things that are unseen, opens up eternity, and the different abodes in the other world. Believing the Lord's word, the person sees that he is under the curse, deserves hell, and that, unless powerfully delivered, there he must land. He now discovers the vanity of every thing else if the soul be lost. He sees that it is on the brink of destruction, and that instead of losing time he has need to fly for refuge. By faith he is persuaded too that unless Christ interpose and save the soul he is in a desperate situation. God is angry, Satan rages, he can do nothing for
himself, and vain is the help of all the creatures. He can do nothing to remove God's wrath, or procure his favour. All refuge failing, faith solemnly commits the soul as the person's chief concern into the hands of the Lord Jesus. It never did or can do less. Without doing this it would not be faith. It may
do it in a more vigorous manner after being long exercised; but still it does it. The first and the last words of faith are the same. In every period it uniformly says, Receive my spirit, or Into thine hand I commit my soul. It may change its accent or tone ; but it never changes its language. The manner in which it commits the soul to Christ is worthy of notice. It looks around. Considering the person's condition and danger, it commits from necessity ; and considering Christ's ability and willingness, from propriety. Viewing his death and atonement, his loving heart, and his arms of mercy stretched out, faith is persuaded that nothing can be more proper for a perishing soul than to put herself into the hands of a merciful Saviour. It is done. Impressed with this necessity and propriety, the sinner commits himself with vast satisfaction and pleasure. He has a ravishing joy corresponding to what the weary and heavy laden experience when they get rid of their burdens, or the man-slayer when he entered the city of refuge. Having entrusted the soul in the hands of the Redeemer, the believer views his own action with jealous eye, not grudging what he has done, but deeply concerned to know that he has done it in a right manner. Having once done it, and having set his foot on firm ground, he resolves in all time