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But let us further view,
II. 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,"
1. 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---]
2. 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." 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 eternals."]
3. As equally deserving the attention of every child of man
9 Mark ix. 43-48. Matt. x. 28.
s Matt. xxv. 31–46.
r John v. 28, 29.
[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!" 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,
1. How highly you are privileged above the hea
[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."]
2. 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 you the felicity that
t Matt. vii. 13, 14.
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 Tim. i. 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: 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,
I. 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
a ver. 8.
[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".'
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. 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!" save me for thy mercy's sake!"]
Whilst he acts in this manner,
II. 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,
1. From the report of others—
b Col. iii. 3, 4.
c 1 Pet. iv. 19. and Isai. xxvi. 20.
[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? 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 people's cause. 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." "None was ever plucked out of his hands:" not the "smallest grain of wheat, however agitated in the sieve, was ever permitted to fall upon the earth" "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 himi:" "Whom he loved, he loved to the end":" and therefore I am persuaded he will perfect that which concerneth me', and "complete in me the good work he has begun."]
2. 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
See this argument suggested by God himself, Isai. liv. 15-17. d. Your enemies are forming weapons; but I formed them; and whatever skill they exercise, I will defeat their attempts."
e 2 Chron. xvi. 9. This is meant by "shewing himself strong."
f Matt. xviii. 14.
i John xviii. 9.
m Phil. i. 6.
g John x. 28, 29.
k John xiii. 1.
h Amos ix. 9.
1 Ps. cxxxviii. 8.