Imágenes de página

every lawful effort, to subvert the power of Satan in the hearts and lives of men, and to establish the kingdom of Christ in its stead. For this purpose he had girded on the armour of righteousness; he had braved all the power of the enemy; he had endured the fierce malice of the Jew, the scornful calumnies of the Gentile, and the cruel persecutions of both. And now, at the close of the combat, he looks back, not with shame or regret, as one who had entered on an unworthy contest or had proved irresolute in a good one, but with gratitude and exultation. The fight might indeed seem to those who judged of it by outward events, disastrous. It might be considered as presenting nothing but scenes of calamity and affliction. The statesman of this world might turn from it with contempt, and the warrior with pity. But to the eye of faith no combat would appear so noble and generous. It was good in the end at which it aspired, as well as in the means which it employed ;-so good, that nothing else could appear glorious when compared with it. It was not, like other contests, a struggle for fame or power, but for the honour of a divine Saviour and the welfare of mankind; it aimed not at the overthrow of an earthly competitor, but at the subversion of misery and sin; it was intended not to inflict disgrace or death on a fellow-creature, but to convey life and pardon and


holiness and ineffable consolation to a ruined world; its purpose was not to accomplish a temporary and contracted victory,➡a victory of which the effects would be inconsiderable and the memory brief; but to achieve the noblest of all conquests, to establish the widest and most permanent and most exalted of all dominions, to erect the universal kingdom of Christ -to gain the salvation of mankind.

This idea is pursued with only a slight alteration, when the Apostle further says, in reference to the racer in the same Grecian games, I have finished my course. The leading idea of the former expression is perhaps rather that of defensive than of active exertion; rather that of patient fortitude in the endurance of evils, than of an eager alacrity in the pursuit of good. The image which he now uses, exhibits an unmixed picture of voluntary, generous, and persevering activity. He had not only fought as a combatant, but had entered on his course as one who runs in a race, had continued in that course even to the end, and was just about to seize the prize. He was in fact already at the goal. And he had run, not as uncertainly; he had fought, not as one that beateth the air; but he had kept under his body and brought it into subjection, lest that by any means, after he had preached to others, he himself should be a cast


[ocr errors]

away. This has been his habitual conduct as a man and as an Apostle; he counted not himself to have apprehended; but this one thing he did, forgetting the things which were be hind and reaching forth unto those things which were before, he pressed toward the mark for the prize of his high calling of God in Christ Jesus".


But, further, to express the fidelity with which the Apostle had preserved the doctrine intrusted to him, and which the former allusions did not so directly convey, he changes the metaphor, and adds, I have kept the faith, as one who guards a valuable deposit. He had been put in trust with the Gospel; he had been charged to testify the Gospel of the grace of God; that good thing had been committed to him3:-many, many temptations had arisen to seduce him from his fidelity, on the part both of the Gentile and the Jewish converts; the fables of human philosophy and the ceremonies of the Mosaic ritual had in different ways, and from various quarters, been employed to corrupt the simplicity of Christbut the Apostle had throughout his whole ministry kept the faith; he had given place by subjection, no not for an hour, when the truth of the Gospel was concerned: he had with

[ocr errors]

6 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27.
7 Phil. iii. 13, 14.
'1 Thess. ii. 4. Acts, xx. 24. 2 Tim. i. 14.

stood even a brother Apostle to the face when he was to be blamed: he had written to the Christians of Galatia and Corinth to reclaim them from dangerous errors: he had cautioned the other churches against men who should arise from among themselves, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them': he had exhorted his bishops, Timothy and Titus, to rebuke even with sharpness those who should depart from the faith. Thus had he been faithful unto death; and now he was about to receive the crown of life3.

3. There is yet one further consideration by which the Apostle would comfort Timothy under the near prospect of his death, and would animate him to fill up, by redoubled efforts on his own part, the void thus made.-Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me in that day. He here seems to rise to a still higher note of triumph. The calmness with which he spoke of his impending death, kindled, as we have seen, into holy joy and gratitude when he reviewed his past labours; and now both these feelings are lost in divine rapture, while he anticipates his eternal reward.

Mark the triumphant terms in which this reward is described: A crown of righteousness

9 Gal. ii. 5, 11.

2 Tit. i. 13.


I Acts, xx. 30.

3 Rev. ii. 10.

a state of dignity as well as happiness-a crown of life, as St. James and the beloved Apostle call it ;-or, to use the language of St. Peter, a crown of glory which fadeth not away 5. The brightest scenes of human splendour are only faint representations of that inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which awaits the Christian combatant. Images of earthly magnificence may assist our conceptions; but they are at best unspeakably feeble. Royal grandeur with all its dazzling and imposing appendages-the utmost pomp and brilliancy of triumphal celebrations-crowns of celestial radiance-robes of unsullied whitenesspalms of victory-the chaunts and acclamations of innumerable multitudes-all, all are little to shadow forth the glories of the immediate presence of God and the unutterable joy and honour and blessedness which he hath prepared for them that love him.

This crown, however, the Apostle expected the Lord, the righteous judge, to award. For God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labour of love". He will judge the world in righteousness; and render to every man according to his deeds. This reward is not indeed one of desert-even the greatest of the Apostles

Rev. ii. 10.

4 James, i. 12.
61 Cor. ii. 9.

Acts, xvii. 31. Rom. ii. 6.

s 1 Pet. v. 4.

7 Heb. vi. 10.

« AnteriorContinuar »