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pre-requisites to an evangelical discharge of the sacred function.
The first verse may be read thus: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the express, or authoritative designation of Jesus Christ our God, Saviour, and Lord *. So the passage may be rendered; and so perhaps, it ought to be understood, in its natural and most obvious construction.Now, even supposing that the apostle had not the divinity of Christ immediately in view, at the time of his writing these words; yet, you must either give up his inspiration, or believe that Christ is, with the Father and the Spirit, God over all, blessed for ever since, on a subject of such unspeakable consequence, it would have argued a degree of negli gence, little short of criminal, had the apostle expressed himself in terms palpably liable to misapprehension. I therefore conclude, that, both as a scholar, and as a Christian; as Gamaliel's pupil, and as an inspired apostle; our sacred penman would have delivered himself in a far more guarded style, had not the Son of God, been indeed God the Son. Either Jesus is the God, Saviour and Lord of his people; or St. Paul was guilty of such inexcusable inaccuracy, as every writer of common sense and common honesty, would be sure to avoid.
He goes on to style the blessed Jesus our hope. Ask almost any man, "Whether he hopes to be saved eternally?" He will answer in the affirmative. But enquire again, "On what foundation he rests his hope?" Here, too many are sadly divided. The pelagian hopes to get to heaven by a moral life, and a good use of his natural powers. The Arminian, by a jumble of grace and free-will, human works, and the merits of Christ. The deist, by an interested observance of the social virtues. Thus merit-mongers, of every denomination, agree in
* Κατ' επιταγην Θέα Σωτηρς ήμων καὶ Κυρες, Ιησε Χριζε.
making any thing the basis of their hope, rather than that foundation, which God's own hand hath laid in Zion. But what saith scripture? It avers, again and again, that Jesus alone is our hope to the exclusion of all others, and to the utter annihilation of human deservings. Beware, therefore, of resting your dependence, partly on Christ; and partly on some other basis. As surely as you bottom your reliance partly on the rock, and partly on the sand; so certainly, unless God give you an immediate repentance to your acknowledgement of the truth, will your supposed house of defence fall and bury you in its ruins, no less than if you had raised it on the sand alone. Christ is the hope of glory *. Faith in his righteousness, received and embraced as our sole justifying obedience before God; and the love of Christ (an inseparable effect of that faith), operating on our hearts, and shining in our lives; are the most solid evidences we can have below, of our acceptance with the Father, and of our being saved in Jesus with an everlasting salvation.
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith; grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have thought that Timothy was not converted under the ministry of St. Paul; and they ground their conjecture on Acts xvi. 1, 2. where Timothy is mentioned as a disciple, and a person well reported of by the Christians at Derbe and Lystra, previous to St. Paul's visitation of those places. That Timothy was a nominal professor of religion, and a youth of circumspect behaviour, are evident from that passage: which external form of godliness was, probably, the effect of the religious education he had the happiness to receive from his earliest childhood. But, from St. Paul's compellation of him as his own son in the faith; it may, I think, be reasonably inferred,
† 2 Tim. iii. 15.
*Colossians i. 27.
that the young disciple was led from the outer court of mere external profession, into the sanctuary of heavenly and spiritual experience, either by the pri vate labours, or under the public ministry of this apostle. And none but those ministers whose endeavours have been blest to the conversion of souls; and those persons who have been born of God by their instrumentality; can form any idea of that spiritual relation and unspeakably tender attachment, which subsist between spiritual fathers and the children of grace whom God hath given them.
Timothy had been a true believer some considerable time before St. Paul wrote this epistle. Consequently, by the grace, mercy, and peace, which he prayed might be the portion of his beloved converts, we are to understand, not the first vouchsafement, but a large increase of those spiritual blessings and comforts: that he might have repeated discoveries, and continued manifestations, of the Father's electing grace; of Christ's redeeming mercy; and experience that sweet peace and joy in believing, which are fruits of the holy Spirit's influence, and flow from fellowship with him. Privileges, these, which unawakened men will always ridicule; but to which, every real Christian will ardently aspire.
Time would fail me, should I attempt to consider all the intervenient verses. I find myself at a loss, not what to say, but what to leave unsaid. However, I shall observe, as briefly as I can, that one grand reason of St. Paul's writing this epistle, was, to put Timothy on his guard against the dissemina tion of corrupt doctrines, and the insidious arts of corrupt teachers, with which the church of Ephesus, where Timothy was now stationed, seems to have been particularly infested. Unregenerate ministers are much the same in all ages, and in every country: an unconverted preacher in England, and an unconverted preacher in Italy, so far as matters merely spiritual are concerned, stand nearly
on a level. These all are what the Ephesian schismatics were desirous to be, teachers of the law, or legal teachers. And all unconverted people, whether their denomination be protestant or popish, desire to be hearers of the law, and are displeased when they hear any thing else. We are naturally fond of that very law, which, unless the righteousness of Christ is ours, is the ministration of death, pronounces us accursed, and binds us over to everlasting ruin. The pernicious error, against which Timothy was directed to guard his flock, was, a dependence on the law, and the works of it, for salvation. And the reason why this destructive tenet was taught and enforced by some preachers of that day, and has been taught by their successors ever since, is assigned by the apostle; who observes, that those blind guides understood neither what they said, nor whereof they affirmed: for, if they had understood any thing of God's inviolable holi
; of the law's inflexible rectitude, extent, and spirituality; of man's total inability to fulfil it perfectly (and without perfect obedience the law cannot justify); they would, at once, have ceased to be teachers of the law, and simply pointed sinners to that Saviour alone, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth *.
Fashionable as the doctrine of legal, conditional justification is, we may say, to every individual that embraces it, There is one that condemns you, even Moses, in whom you trust †, and that every law on which you rest: for its language is, He that breaketh me only in one point, is guilty of all: and, Cursed is every man that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them §. Show me the man who has never offended in one point; who hath continued in all things prescribed by Jehovah's perfect law; who loves the Lord with all his
+ John v. 45.
James ii. 10.
* Romans x. 4.
heart, and his fellow-creatures as himself; show me the man, who, from the first to the last moment of his life, comes up to this standard: and then you will show me a man who can be justified by works of his own.
But, if no such person could ever be found, Jesus Christ the righteous singly excepted, St. Paul's conclusion stands unshaken, that they, who teach or hold justification by any other obedience than that of Christ, neither know what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
Yet, notwithstanding we neither are nor can be justified by the law; still, the uses of the law are numerous and important: whence the apostle takes care to add, that the law is good, or answers several valuable purposes, if a man use it lawfully. Nothing can be more evident, than that, by the law, in this place, is meant the moral law. The ceremonial could not possibly be intended; because it is not now to be adhered to, and is no longer in force: whereas the apostle speaks of a law which is to this very day unrepealed, and of standing use: the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Of this law, there is a two-fold use; or, rather, an use and an abuse. The use of the law is, among other things, first, to convince us of our utter sinfulness; and then, secondly, to lead us to Christ, as the great and only fulfiller of all righteousness. Now, the law does not answer these important ends, directly, and of itself; but in a subserviency to the holy Spirit's influence; when that adorable person is pleased to
*"A gracious sight of our vileness," says one of the ablest and most useful writers of the last century, "Is the work of Christ only, by his Spirit. The law is, indeed, a looking-glass; able to represent the filthiness of a person: but the law gives not eyes, to see that filthiness. Bring a looking-glass, and set it before a blind man: he sees no more spots in his face, than if he had none at all. Though the glass be a good glass, still the glass cannot give eyes: yet, if he had eyes, he would, in the glass, see his blemishes. The