2 Timothy 2:3. Endure hardness, or hardships, as we now say, as a good soldier; who in camps, fatigues, and wars, often incur dysenteries by hardships and over exertion. The effeminate minister should read and study these dying words of Paul. Certainly he never aimed that Timothy should affect the fine gentleman. Christ has work for his servants to do, and such as requires the putting forth of all their strength. These are evil days: the war of the Lamb does not allow of slumber and sloth. The enemy is like a roaring lion: we must watch, and fight, and pray. A pastor must be disciplined for war, and skilled in all its arts. He must be ever alert, and always invincible. In a word, he must be a man whom the church can present with equal pride to her friends, and to her foes.
2 Timothy 2:6. The husbandman that laboureth must be first a partaker of the fruits. Never was argument more just, or conclusion more fair. This is an age when many are striving to put ministers under their feet, and treat them with contempt. Many pious clergymen in Ireland have suffered severely.
Joseph, bishop of St. Paul de Leon, whose cathedral I visited in 1791, was a pastor adorned with every virtue that could dignify human nature. Yet in hoary age he was banished from his see. His pastoral letter to the people of his diocese, in purity and eloquence equalled the finest writers of France. Mr. Macauley, an English merchant, at whose house I was, told me that the pious bishop wore his robes to hide his shabby purple coat; that his whole wardrobe consisted of only four shirts, and two pair of stockings well darned. Like his blessed Lord and Master, his soul was absorbed in charities.
Many Wesleyan ministers, in these trying times, are game for tongues and for pens; and the dissenters, like Edom, seem to enjoy it very much: blind to the future, that their turn will come next. But if Paul were yet alive, he would raise his voice, and charge the churches to exalt their ministers as the glory of Christ. To obey those that are over them in the Lord; and watch, as those that must render an account; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. He would still add,
2 Timothy 2:14. Put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words. In twenty places we are told that this word, this gospel was received immediately from the Lord; and especially respecting the Son of God, as the express image or hypostasis of the person of the Father. Hebrews 1:3. Thou art my Son, and never otherwise than my Son; as in the word Jehovah, designating the past, the present, and the future. “He that cometh down from heaven is above all, and what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth.” Hold it fast; put the people daily in remembrance, lest they be subverted from the faith.
2 Timothy 2:18. They have erred, saying, the resurrection is past already. It does not appear that Hymenæus and Philetus denied a future state, nor the intermediate state between death and the resurrection. This was a doctrine which many of the heathen philosophers taught, and professed to believe. But they also taught that the soul is imprisoned in the body, as it were in a dungeon; and that its activity is clogged by its union with the gross materials of flesh and blood; so that it might be expected, when this union is dissolved by death, that the soul would act more freely, and would have all its powers more exalted. Philetus, Hymenæus, and other early professors of christianity were seduced with this illusive doctrine; and in support of it gave a literal interpretation to certain passages of scripture which evidently have no other than a metaphorical meaning. The moral change which is essential and preparatory to eternal life is frequently denoted by a being quickened from a death in sin, a being risen with Christ, as a resurrection to newness of life; and hence it was inferred that there would be no future resurrection, no resurrection of the body at all, for that “the resurrection is past already,” and the soul would for ever remain in a separate state after death. But however lightly men may deem of such vain speculations, and think them of little consequence, an apostle declares it blasphemy, and an utter subversion of the fundamental principles of the gospel. 1 Timothy 1:20.
2 Timothy 2:19. The foundation of God standeth sure. Θεμελιος, which Mr. Mede calls the bill of contract. The seal affixed to it denotes its certainty, as writings were anciently ratified by a piece of green wax pendant to the parchment, impressed with the arms and motto. This foundation is Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh; it denotes the love of God, the bond of perfectness. Such as abide in him are here intended, such as know and love him, and stand fast in the Lord. The Lord knoweth them, for his name is in them, as in Ezekiel 9:4. And if we are thus the Lord's, it is of all things the most reasonable that we should depart from all iniquity, and be holy as he who hath called us is holy.
2 Timothy 2:22. Flee also youthful lusts. Young men, said Polycarp, “keep your flesh as the temple of God.” These two words proceed from two of the holiest men that we can conceive, and men just going to receive the crown of martyrdom. Assuredly there is no need for any man to live in sin; such a doctrine would be a libel on the moral government of God. He has said, my grace is sufficient to enable you to possess your vessel in sanctification and honour. Therefore cut off the right hand, and pluck out the right eye, that you may present your bodies to the Lord a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable.
2 Timothy 2:23. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid. The reference is to judaizing teachers, whom some christians were fond of imitating. The word “unlearned” is not a happy reading. Απαιδευτους, questions incongruous to the study of youth, to which the apostle refers in other places. 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:9. Ministers must feed the flock, and lead them to green pastures. A preacher who follows common sense will follow nature, preach with simplicity, and try to copy all that ought to pass between heaven and the soul. This is the way to be useful, and to reclaim those that are gone astray.