2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.
A Sound Mind2 Timothy 1:7
A Sound Mind not Easily AttainedJ. Barlow, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
A Whit-Sunday SermonF. D. Maurice, M. A.2 Timothy 1:7
Christian CouragePlain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times."2 Timothy 1:7
Christian CourageW. Baxendale.2 Timothy 1:7
Christianity: What it is not and What it IsJ. Henderson, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Contagion of FearH. O. Mackey.2 Timothy 1:7
Energy Within Right LimitsDr. Van Oosterzee.2 Timothy 1:7
Intellectual VirtuesJ. Barlow, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Latent Power in ChurchesT. Guthrie, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Love Casting Out FearA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Needless FearJames Inglis.2 Timothy 1:7
On Soundness of Mind in ReligionJ. Venn, M. A.2 Timothy 1:7
PowerJ. Barlow, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Power in the ChristianJ. Barlow, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Power of LoveW. Birch.2 Timothy 1:7
Self-ControlSpeaker's Commentary2 Timothy 1:7
Self-MasteryH. R. Reynolds, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
Sinful Fear of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
The Divine Equipment for Arduous Service in the ChurchT. Croskery 2 Timothy 1:7
The Great Purpose of ChristianityW. E. Channing, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
The Spirit of DisciplineA. Plummer, D. D.2 Timothy 1:7
The Spiritual Endowment of the Christian ChurchW. R. Percival.2 Timothy 1:7
The Threefold GiftJos. Irons.2 Timothy 1:7
True FearlessnessC. H. Spurgeon.2 Timothy 1:7
Unwarrantable FearlessnessH. O. Mackey.2 Timothy 1:7
Address and SalutationR. Finlayson 2 Timothy 1:1-14
The apostle here adds a reason for the injunction just given.

I. NEGATIVELY. "For God did not give us the spirit of cowardice."

1. This refers to the time of the ordination of Timothy and of the apostle. Courage is an essential qualification for ministers of the gospel.

2. Cowardice is unworthy of those who have received the gospel in trust. The fear of man has a very wide dominion, but those who fear God ought to know no other fear.

(1) This fear tends to unworthy compliances.

(2) Trust in God is a preservation from fear (Psalm 27:1).

(3) Our Lord exhorts us strongly against such fear (John 14:27).

II. POSITIVELY. "But of power, and of love, and of self-control."

1. The spirit of power, as opposed to the weakness of cowardice; for the servants of Christ are fortified against persecutions and reproaches, are enabled to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ, and to quit themselves like men.

2. The spirit of love. This will make them earnest in their care for souls, indefatigable in labours, fearless in the midst of trying exigencies, and self-sacrificing in love.

3. The spirit of self-control. This will enable the servant of Christ to keep his whole being in subjection to the Lord, apart from all the solicitations of the world, and to regulate life with a due regard to its duties, its labours, and its cares. - T.C.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The first characteristic stands opposed to faint-heartedness: the two other qualities are added, apparently, by the apostle, so that it may be distinctly manifest that he recommends no wild, rough exhibitions of force, but only such as were confined within legal limits. The ἀγαπή renders us capable for the offering of the greatest sacrifice for the cause of the Lord; the σωφρονισμός is that Christian self-control which imparts power to a wise bearing in action, and in all things knows how to keep within true bounds.

(Dr. Van Oosterzee.)

Speaker's Commentary.
A sound mind, rather self-control, which keeps "a constant rein on all the passions and desires" (Trench), and would thus keep in check timidity and undue despondency. Some take "sound mind" to signify here "correction" of others, Church discipline, a meaning which the word will bear, but which is out of harmony with the other two elements of the special gift here enumerated, both of which are personal graces, not official powers.

(Speaker's Commentary.)

The Spirit of God, by supplying us with power and love, launches within us forces which are capable, if they are not well adjusted, of producing either arrogance or laxity; and which need, therefore, the central controlling energy of true self-mastery to harmonise them and save them from mutual destruction. We do not desiderate a neutral, colourless result, but a higher perfection, one in which both these forces have full play.

(H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

If it be asked whether the discipline be that which Timothy is to enforce in ruling others, or that which he is to practice in schooling himself, we may answer "Both." The termination of the word which is here used (σωφρονισμός) seems to require a transitive meaning; and slackness in correcting others may easily have been one of the ways in which the despondency of Timothy showed itself. On the other hand the whole context here speaks of Timothy's treatment of himself. To take a more lively interest in the conduct of others would be discipline for himself and for them also. There may be as much pride as humility in indulging the thought that the lives of other people are so utterly bad that it is quite out of the power of such persons as ourselves to effect a reformation. This is a subtle way of shirking responsibility. Strong in the spirit of power, glowing with the spirit of love, we can turn the faults of others, together with all the troubles which may befall us in this life into instruments of discipline.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

These words, though originally addressed to a bishop, and with reference to the ministerial office, yet need not be limited in their application. For of all who are duly baptized into the faith of the Lord Jesus, it is unquestionably required that they manfully fight under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and continue His faithful soldiers and servants unto their lives' end; wherein is implied, to say the least, that we strive earnestly and habitually to get rid of all mean cowardly fears, and go on in the path marked out for us by our Heavenly Guide, with all energy of conduct, and charity of heart, with such caution, too, and self-possession, as become persons who know what they are about. "First of all," says St. Paul, "God has not given us the spirit of cowardice" — for that is the proper meaning of the word, which in the original is not the same with that which is generally translated "fear," but quite different. It is used also, in a few other places, in the New Testament; as, e.g. (St. Mark 4:40), when, after repeated demonstrations of the Almighty power and infinite compassion of the holy Jesus, His disciples were still weak and wavering, and alarmed at apparent danger, His gentle yet solemn rebuke was, "Why are ye so fearful [cowardly]? how is it that ye have no faith?" Whence we learn that this spirit of cowardice is so inconsistent with the character, as even to prove a want of faith, so far as it influences the heart. Again, on another occasion (John 14:27), when our blessed Lord was encouraging and cheering the fainting spirits of His disciples, perplexed and alarmed: at the prospect of His leaving them: "Let not your heart be troubled," said He to them; "neither let it be afraid" (cowardly). — "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." And again, in the description of those who shall be judged liable to the second death, the first-mentioned are (in our translation "fearful," but originally) the cowardly, and then next, the unbelieving (Revelation 21:8). These are all the places where the word is used in the New Testament. The spirit of cowardice, then, is opposed to the spirit of faith. But, says the inspired apostle, God hath not given us — us Christians — this spirit of cowardice — this base unworthy disposition is not from Him, nor among the fruits of His blessed Spirit. Rather we are taught to expect from that heavenly source a spirit most opposite to that of cowardice — A spirit of energy, charity, prudence; enabling us to proceed and go forward in our Christian course under every circumstance, to serve the Lord without distraction, to oppose men's errors without enmity to their persons, to walk warily as in days of danger and perplexity. That the word here translated "power" has this meaning, viz., of inspired energy and courage, we may know as from other passages in the New Testament, so from these two. In Acts 6. it is said of the holy martyr — "Stephen, fall of faith and power" — as far as possible from any distrust or apprehension as to the holy cause of the gospel which he had undertaken. And in the Revelation of St. John, the Divine message to the Bishop of the Philadelphian Church, was, "Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name;" a little strength, energy, or power — as not having like some others, altogether fallen away through indolence, or faint-hearted cowardly fear. Hence, we infer, that the spirit by which the faithful Christian is actuated is one of energy, resolution, and steady perseverance; and inferring this, we are hound to put it closely to our consciences, as follows: — Whether our life is one of diligence and activity, and this diligence and activity, not limited to this world, but actually in the cause and service of Almighty God. Whether we avoid, as much as possible, mixing in idle company, reading vain and trifling books, or other publications, indulging in useless, idle, unprofitable thoughts. Whether we try to knew, and feel, the value of our precious, irreparable time. Whether we endeavour, from day to day, in that state of life to which it has pleased God to call us, to do our duty — i.e., what in God's sight is expected of us; for very often much less will satisfy the world, and our own easy consciences. Whether we pray habitually, to be enabled to accomplish these our respective duties with resolution, steadiness, and perseverance; neither alarmed by danger, if it should happen, nor moved by scorn and contempt; but expecting such trials as part of God's discipline, to bring our hearts into a fit state for our admission into the everlasting habitations. We may further observe that the mean spirit of cowardice is always found in effect (in whatever way it is to be accounted for), a great hindrance to the growth of true charity, love for God and man. "The fear of man bringeth a snare" — even so great a snare as to withdraw the heart from loving and trusting Almighty God. Cowardice is a selfish feeling, makes men think only of themselves, their own present interests and comforts — A state of mind quite repulsive of true charity and love. Hence (says St. Paul), "God gives not His servants the spirit of cowardice, but of power, and also of love," leads them both to be zealous and earnest in fulfilling their high duties, and at the same time tempers their zeal with meekness and love. If we would then know, whether we are such in heart and life as Christians ought to be, we must ask ourselves, not merely whether we are earnest in our religion, but also whether "all our things are done with charity," love to God and man. Again, you will observe that St. Paul intimates to us in the passage now considered, that it is not enough for the Christian to be zealous in his duty, even though his zeal be tempered and guided by love; unless also he be cautious and on his guard, so as in every emergency to retain his presence of mind, and always (as every person should who has any important matter in hand) to know what he is about. This, I say, is the spirit and disposition which as Christians we are still to labour and pray for, nor shall we seek it in vain — for to His faithful servants God gives, not only the spirit of power, and of love, but also of a sound mind; whilst by His grace He enables them to be harmless as doves, He would have them also wise as serpents, ever on their guard; on their guard, i.e., not so much against their earthly as their spiritual foes.

(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times.")

Our text presents to our view a striking contrast between that which constitutes the religion of a worldling, and that which constitutes the religion of a Christian. The religion of a worldling is a religion of slavish fear, but the religion of a Christian consists of a threefold gift, as specified in the language of my text. If you go to Pagan lands you will find all the Pagan tribes in possession of a religion of slavish fear; they fear their priests, and therefore they bow down to them as ii they were a superior race of beings to themselves. They fear the devil, and, therefore, they worship him lest he should do them hurt, for theirs is a religion of slavish fear altogether. There are three words, or three features, of our subject, so distinctly marked that I want your attention to them separately. "God hath given us the spirit of power" — there is efficiency. "God hath given us the spirit of love" — there is attraction. "God hath given us the spirit of a sound mind" — that is a treasure in our vessels of infinite value.

I. "God hath given us the spirit of POWER." I would have every person who is moved with the idea that God sends him to preach, "tarry at Jerusalem, until he has been endued with power from on high."

II. Now a word or two about the attraction in the "SPIRIT OF LOVE." You will recollect reading that all the law is said by our blessed Lawgiver to be couched in this one word, "love"; and sure I am that all the gospel is couched in it, for "God is love." Hence it is the grand principle insisted on all through the New Testament.

III. Now glance at the treasure in possession in earthen vessels, called A SOUND MIND. It is one of the rarest things in existence — A sound mind. I can meet with puerile minds, I can meet with frantic minds, I can meet with enthusiastic minds, I can meet with fickle and varying minds, not a few, and some of these bad and sad qualities even among Christians; I lament over them. A sound mind — what is it There is not a child of Adam that possesses it until he gets it from above; it must be inspired. I grant that there are many men who have sound minds in temporal things; sound minds to judge rightly and consistently of worldly matters, so as seldom to make a mistake in matters of business; a sound mind to rule their house properly, to manage things with keenness and propriety, and with success; but, mark, I make a distinction between a sound mind, as the gift of God in a spiritual point of view, and a sound mind as existing in nature. A sound mind, as existing in nature, only regards natural things, and can rise no higher than its own level. I never knew a man of sound mind in spiritual things, until the Holy Ghost inspired it.

(Jos. Irons.)

I. WHAT GENUINE CHRISTIANITY IS NOT. It is not a "spirit of fear." The spirit of fear is that of a criminal and a slave. It haunts the minds of the guilty, and is only a prelude to those awful feelings which harrow up the soul that dies in a state of final impenitence. Such is not the spirit by which Christians are actuated. The great end for which our Saviour came into the world was to deliver men from their awful situation of exposure to the Divine wrath, and the fear consequent upon a knowledge of this state. But how are we to reconcile this passage with others, in which the spirit of fear is highly spoken of? Such as, "Blessed is the man that feareth always"; "I will put My fear in their hearts," etc. They are to be reconciled in this way. That spirit of fear which is not given to the people of God is a fear arising from a sense of guilt, a conviction that God is their enemy. But that fear which is implanted in the hearts of His people is a filial fear — A holy jealousy, lest by sin they should provoke the Lord to anger.


1. Genuine Christianity is powerful and efficacious. "God hath given us the spirit of power." In 1 Corinthians 4:20 this apostle says, "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" — it is not in anything external, but in the experience of all the powerful effects of the gospel. The gospel is powerful to the salvation of all that believe.

2. Genuine Christianity is benevolent and kind. "God hath given us the spirit of love." This enters most essentially into the system of Divine truth, and also into the experience of every child of God. This spirit is not natural to man. Whatever obtains the name of love is only a selfish principle. But by grace it is overcome, and a contrary spirit is bestowed. "We love Him, because He first loved us." Where this love is felt in the heart, it is impossible but a reciprocal feeling of love to God must spring up within us. And not only love to God, but to all that bear His image — our brethren in Christ. But the love of the Christian is not confined to his brethren in the Lord; it extends to all mankind.

3. Genuine Christianity is in the highest degree rational, and peculiarly suited to the exigencies and circumstances of mankind. When a sinner is called out of darkness into light, he often becomes an object of derision; he is represented as an enthusiast, and beside himself. This was the case with Paul; but with respect and justice he repelled the charge; and this every child of God may do; for He has conferred upon him "the spirit of a sound mind." What is enthusiasm? It is the power given to the mind by some sublime conceptions which have broken in upon it. We praise this in many things — we praise it in the artist; and one once said, when fault was found with him for having employed so much of his time, "Art is a jealous thing, and requires the whole man." And is not eternity, is not religion a jealous thing? Does it not require the whole man? That the Christian is acting a most rational part is evident, if we consider what are the principles by which the prudent men of the world are guided; they are the same as those by which the Christian is guided, only changing the motives and the ends. These are indemnity for the past, enjoyment of the present, security and provision for the future.

(J. Henderson, D. D.)


1. In being a disciple at all courage was demanded.

2. In proclaiming the gospel of God courage was manifested.

3. In enduring hardness courage was developed,


1. The power of holy utterance is a spiritual gift.

2. The power of Christian legislation is a spiritual gift.

3. The power of righteous resolute volition is a spiritual gift.


1. Love Of kindred is a spiritual gift of the Inspirer.

2. Love of country — patriotism — is a Divine spiritual gift.

3. The love of Christ and of God is an endowment of the Spirit of God.


1. The capacity and consequent appetite for knowledge are spiritual endowments.

2. The energy of habitual holy action is a spiritual endowment.

3. The restoring power of a righteous life is a spiritual endowment.

(W. R. Percival.)

Why was Christianity given? Why did Christ seal it with His blood? Why is it to be preached? What is the great happiness it confers? I read the answer to them in the text. There I learn the great good which God confers through Jesus Christ. "He hath given us, not the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." The glory of Christianity is, the pure and lofty action which it communicates to the human mind. It does not breathe a timid, abject spirit. If it did, it would deserve no praise. It gives power, energy, courage, constancy to the will; love, disinterestedness, enlarged affection to the heart; soundness, clearness, and vigour to the understanding. It rescues him who receives it from sin, from the sway of the passions; gives him the full and free use of his best powers; brings out and brightens the Divine image in which he was created; and in this way not only bestows the promise, but the beginning of heaven. This is the excellence of Christianity. In reading the New Testament I everywhere learn that Christ lived, taught, died, and rose again, to exert a purifying and ennobling influence on the human character; to make us victorious over sin, over ourselves, over peril and pain; to join us to God by filial love, and above all, by likeness of nature, by participation of His Spirit. This is plainly laid down in the New Testament as the supreme end of Christ. In the prophecies concerning Him in the Old Testament, no characteristic is so frequently named as that He should spread the knowledge of the true God. Now I ask, what constitutes the importance of such a revelation? Why has the Creator sent His Son to make Himself known? I answer, God is most worthy to be known, because He is the most quickening, purifying, and ennobling object for the mind; and His great purpose in revealing Himself is, that He may exalt and perfect human nature. God, as He is manifested by Christ, is another name for intellectual and moral excellence; and in the know ledge of Him our intellectual and moral powers find their element, nutriment, strength, expansion, and happiness. To know God is to attain to the sublimest conception in the universe. To love God is to bind oneself to a Being who is fitted, as no other being is, to penetrate and move our whole hearts; in loving whom we exalt ourselves; in loving whom we love the great, the good, the beautiful, and the infinite; and under whose influence the soul unfolds itself as a perennial plant under the cherishing sun. This constitutes the chief glory of religion. It ennobles the soul. In this its unrivalled dignity and happiness consist. I fear that the world at large think religion a very different thing from what has been now set forth. Too many think it a depressing, rather than an elevating service, that it breaks rather than ennobles the spirit, that it teaches us to cower before an almighty and irresistible being; and I must confess that religion, as it has been generally taught, is anything but an elevating principle. It has been used to scare the child and appal the adult. The main ground of the obligation of being religious, I fear, is not understood, among the multitude of Christians. Ask them, why they must know and worship God? and, I fear, that were the heart to speak, the answer would be, because He can do with us what He will, and consequently our first concern is to secure His favour. Religion is a calculation of interest, a means of safety. God is worshipped too often on the same principle on which flattering and personal attentions are lavished on human superiors, and the worshipper cares not how abjectly he bows, if he may win to his side the power which he cannot resist. I look with deep sorrow on this common perversion of the highest principle of the soul. I have endeavoured to show the great purpose of the Christian doctrine respecting God, or in what its importance and glory consist. Had I time, I might show that every other doctrine of our religion has the same end. I might particularly show how wonderfully fitted are the character, example, life, death, resurrection, and all the offices of Christ to cleanse the mind from moral evil, to quicken, soften, elevate, and transform it into the Divine image; and I might show that these are the influences which true faith derives from Him and through which He works out our salvation. Let me only say that I see everywhere in Christianity this great design of liberating and raising the human mind.

(W. E. Channing, D. D.)

Many readers of this passage, I doubt not, place the emphasis on the word us. They suppose St. Paul to say, "An ordinary man, who occupied the position which you occupy, the overseer of a society which is composed of various and contradictory elements, in which strange doctrines are appearing, which is exposed to all the influences of a commercial and corrupt city, would fear and tremble. It is your privilege to be as free from fightings and terrors as I, your spiritual father, am." What encouragement, then, could he give to Timothy? Precisely that which he had found necessary in his own case, precisely that to which he had been driven by the experience he has described to us. His spirit might be palsied with fear; but there was a Spirit near him and with him which was not a spirit of fear, to which he could turn as the Deliverer from fear, the Restorer of energy, the Quickener of hope. That Spirit had been given not to him (Paul), but to the Family of which he was a member;-if in any special sense to him, to him only because he was a servant of that Family, because he needed powers that were not his own, to make his ministries for it effectual.

I. I suppose we have all felt tempted, at times, to use language which is just the reverse of the apostle's. We have read in records of the past — we have known on a larger or smaller scale among cur contemporaries — such instances of strange panic and cowardice, of counsel and heart failing just when the need for them was the greatest, that we have been ready to exclaim, "Surely there is something Divine in this! We cannot attribute such a loss of nerve and energy to the pressure of outward circumstances; these often evoke the greatest courage when they are most appalling. We cannot attribute it merely to a natural want of courage; those same men, or bodies of men, at other crises, showed that they were capable of manly effort. Their fear is surely supernatural. God has given them this spirit of fear." Such a mode of speaking is not uncommon; it is not without strong excuse. But I think also that our consciences wilt tell us that we pervert such passages of Scripture if we set them in opposition to the doctrine of St. Paul in the one now before us. We need not study the records of the past, or the actions of our fellow-men, to learn what the spirit of fear or cowardice is. Each has, perhaps, known something of that cowardice which springs from self-distrust, from the apprehension of lions in his path, from doubtfulness, which of several paths he should choose, from the foretaste of coming evils.

II. The Spirit of God is said to be a Spirit of POWER. Consider the different kinds of power before which men bow, and those which they covet most to exercise. There is none more familiar or more wonderful than that of the orator. There is another power mixed frequently with this, but yet different in its direction and its nature, which also can be limited to no country, or circumstances, or stage of cultivation. The physician, the healer, is welcomed in all lands by different titles, but always for this reason, that he can in some way act on the life of men, can oppose the powers that are threatening life. In some regions his functions are hardly distinguished from those of the priest, because he too is conversant about life and death, a life or death that may continue when the resources of the ordinary physician are exhausted. The most simple, naked exhibition of human power is in that royal Will, which obtains supremacy by claiming it — which compels individuals and nations, they know not how, to own that it is meant to rule them, and that they must needs obey. That such a force as this exists, it is as idle to deny as to deny the force of sea or wind. We are certain that the most settled, organised tyranny is still a rebellion, and must end as rebellions end. What is the warrant for this conviction? Whit-Sunday says it is this, that the highest power, the all-ruling Will, was manifested in One who took upon Him the form of a Servant. It says that His noblest gift to men is His own Spirit of Power. It says that to that Spirit all spirits must at last bow; that any will which is mere arbitrary will — which does not seek to deliver and to raise those whom it rules — must be broken in pieces; that the only effectual power will be proved at last to be that which can give up itself.

III. If the world was to be instructed that nil power of speech, of imparting life and wisdom to men, of governing societies, is of God, and is tits gift to His creatures, certainly no teachers could be so suitable as those Galileans. And yet I know not whether there was not something even more wonderful in the selection of these men to show that all Love is of God; that His Spirit is the author of whatever love men are able to exhibit in acts or to feel within. For as Jews they had learnt to despise and hate all the uncircumcised; as Galileans they must often have been jealous of that more favoured part of their own race, which looked down upon them. They had been chosen, indeed, by a Teacher who bore all their narrowness and ignorance; who educated them by a careful and gracious discipline for the work to which He had destined them. Their affection had been drawn out towards Him; that affection had been a bond to each other, though interrupted by continual desires in each of them to be the chief in His kingdom. But their affection had been tried, and had broken down. It had failed towards the Master; what strength could there be in it towards any of their fellows? If love was their own, or had its springs in them, it must be utterly dried up. Then reflect how it burst forth, how it poured itself out first upon Jews, who scorned them; next upon Gentiles, whom it had been part of their religion to scorn; to see what it could endure. So they were trained to understand that there must be about them and with them a Spirit of over-living, long-suffering love, the heights and depths of which they could never measure — of which they could only say, It is the Spirit of Him who died upon the Cross, and who in that death manifested the very nature of His eternal Father and His purposes to men. What is the original falsehood of all who speak of their love to God and man? This: they take credit to themselves for a love which is moving them to noble thoughts and good deeds, but which has another source than their hearts; which is Divine, not earthly; universal, not partial.

IV. Finally, this Spirit is said to be the Spirit of a SOUND MIND. You cannot make any estimate or guess of the wildness and madness into which man may be led. And therefore you cannot provide the remedy for this wildness and madness, or any adequate protection against it. Do you think you know of some adequate remedy or protection? Perhaps you will say it lies in the Church. May not this be, after all, the one security against these excesses? May not the Spirit of God keep better watch over those minds which He has taken into His guardianship, than you can keep? A Spirit who knows how all are tempted — who knows what temptation is strongest for each — who is seeking to unite them in a common fellowship — who is guiding them to the same haven — who will suffer none who would act rightly to be without the necessary aids to action, none that would seek truth to be lost in falsehood; who will continually assist the desire to do right in those who are conscious of the inclination to wrong — who will for ever kindle afresh the zeal for truth in those who feel that they are beginning to acquiesce in plausible lies? To tell men that such a guiding Spirit of Power, of Love, of a Sound Mind, has been given them, and is with them — this is not dangerous, but safe.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

The expression, sobriety, or soundness of mind, is used in the Scriptures in various senses. Sometimes it is opposed to madness; as where the demoniac was found sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. Madness disposes men to act irregularly, furiously, and extravagantly. Soundness of mind, therefore, implies recollection, calmness, and discretion, the guidance and control of reason. In other places, soundness of mind is opposed to levity and impropriety, as where women are required to adorn themselves in modest apparel, with sobriety; or to intemperance and sensuality, as where young men are exhorted to be sober minded, and, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly. Sometimes it is contrasted with pride and self-conceit: thus the apostle forbids the Romans to think extravagantly of themselves, instead of thinking soberly, as they ought to do. In my text the same expression is used in a more general and comprehensive sense. The general characteristic of all unsoundness of mind may be said to be false perceptions. He whose mind is in this state dares not see things as they really are; they appear to him extravagantly magnified or diminished, distorted, or confounded with different objects. A sound mind, on the contrary, forms a just view of the subjects presented to it; it estimates correctly the relative value and importance of different subjects, and is not governed by prejudice, caprice, or idle imaginations.

I. Soundness of mind is opposed to CREDULITY. Credulity arises from a misapprehension of the nature and value of evidence. The credulous man believes on insufficient authority. He does not perceive the proportion which different kinds of evidence bear to each other. How many in the Church at this day receive the doctrines of Christianity, not on account of the evidence by which they are supported, nor because they are plainly delivered in Scripture, but because this or that particular man has held them! A man of sound mind will not indeed despise human authority, and, in the spirit of innovation, doubt a tenet because it has been generally maintained; but he will be very careful to found his faith upon the truth of Scripture rather than upon the opinions of men.

II. Soundness of mind is opposed to SUPERSTITION. A person in the dark sees nothing distinctly, and is therefore very apt to form confused and erroneous ideas of every object around him, his imagination giving to them what form and colour it pleases. Such is the situation of a superstitious man with respect to all objects of a spiritual or religious kind — he sees nothing in its proper form and proportion. A frequent and dangerous superstition is that which lays an undue stress on mere external religious observances. A man, therefore, of a sound mind, while he attributes to forms and ceremonies their true value, will not substitute them for more substantial good. He will manifest the soundness of his mind by preferring the substance to the form, and by endeavouring to possess the spirit of religion rather than the mere shadow of it.

III. Soundness of mind is opposed to ENTHUSIASM. Enthusiasm consists in unwarranted ideas of the nature of the relation between us and our Creator, A man of sound mind will cherish no extravagant notions of Divine communications. An enthusiast entertains lofty notions of himself, and degrading conceptions of the Deity; he conceives that the course of nature is to be regulated with a view to his interest. The ordinary rules, even of morality, must yield to his convenience. He and his immediate connections have a peculiar dispensation: they are the particular favourites of God, and all things are to minister to their exclusive good.

IV. Soundness of mind is opposed to SCEPTICISM or INFIDELITY. I am well aware that infidels arrogate to themselves the distinction of being the only sound reasoners, and charge believers with credulity and superficial views. But the charge may justly be retorted on themselves: they do not possess a sound mind; for the body of evidence by which Christianity is established is incomparably superior to that by which any historical fact, or any other tenets whatever, have been supported,

V. Soundness of mind is opposed to INSENSIBILITY, or INDIFFERENCE to THE GREAT OBJECTS OF RELIGION. If you saw a man bartering his estate for a childish toy, or labouring to accomplish some object in its nature evidently unattainable, or using the greatest exertions and the most powerful means to effect some frivolous or contemptible purpose; or, on the other band, struggling to accomplish some end really important by means wholly inadequate, you would say, without hesitation, that such a man had not a sound mind. The great doctrines which religion teaches must be either false, or doubtful, or true. That they are false can never be positively proved. "Surely," says Pascal, "in a doubtful point of this most tremendous consequence, it is the duty of every rational person to endeavour, if possible, to obtain a solution of his doubts, and to remain no longer in suspense about a question of such immense consequence, in comparison of which all the sorrows or happiness of this life will not bear so much as a single moment's comparison. Yet we see persons, professing, too, to be wise, and raised above the vulgar herd, who not only doubt upon these points, but appear to be easy and composed, nay, declare their doubts with perfect indifference, and perhaps gratify their vanity in professing them. What words can be found to fix a name for such unaccountable folly? Yet you see the same persons quite other men in all other respects. They fear the smallest inconveniences: they see them if they approach, and feel them if they arrive. They pass whole days and nights in chagrin and despair for the loss of their property, or for some imaginary blemish in their honour; and yet these very same persons suppose they may lose all by death, and remain without disquiet or emotion. This wonderful insensibility with respect to things of the most fatal consequence, and that, too, in a heart so nicely sensible of the meanest trifles, is an astonishing prodigy, an unintelligible enchantment, a supernatural blindness and infatuation." You believe the Scriptures; you believe that there is a future life, in comparison of which this is a mere point; sit down and contemplate the duration of it. Yet, O strange absurdity I we see everything reversed: persons not at all interested about these fleeting moments, on account of their relation to eternity, but very anxious about them in themselves! The Bible informs us of our danger, and must be our only guide how to escape it. Here, then, is folly and unsoundness of mind in the highest degree, that men will not search the Scriptures and be guided by the Word of God.

(J. Venn, M. A.)

And here is condemned those, both preachers and people, who have it not themselves, neither can endure it in ethers. We commend the deep-mouthed hound, the shrill sound of the trumpet, the loud report of the piece; yet cannot away with, care not for the spirit of power and resolution in a Christian. Is not power appropriated to God? Did not Christ speak with authority and power, and not as the Scribes? For can a soldier be too strong? a traveller over-well limbed? then may a Christian be too well fenced, armed. Must he not wrestle with principalities and powers? combat with the sons of Anak? tread upon the lion and the ape? And who can tell what weight may be put on his shoulders for time to come? Will we not provander our beast for a long journey? rig our ships for a rough passage? build them strong for a long voyage? bead our staff before we leap? And shall we never fortify the inner man, repair the battered bark of our souls, nor try the truth of that stilt which must help us to heaven? Wherefore, gather spiritual greatness, strive for this strength, and purchase this power by all means possible, and that thou mayest do these things.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

One of our poets gives a grim picture of a traveller on a lonesome road, who has caught a glimpse of a frightful shape close behind him —

"And having once turned round walks on,

And turns no more his head."The dreadful thing is there on his very heels, its breath hot on his check; he feels it though he does not see, but he dare not face round to it; he puts a strong compulsion on himself, and, with rigidly fixed face, strides on his way, a sickening horror busy with his heart. An awful image that, but a true one with regard to what many men do with their thoughts of God! They know that that thought is there, close behind them. They feel sometimes as if its hand were just coming out to be laid on their shoulders, and to stop them. And they will not turn their heads to see the Face that should be the love, the blessedness, the life of their spirits, but is — because they love it not — the terror and freezing dread of their souls.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, gives, in one of his letters, an account of a saintly sister. For twenty years, through some disease, she was confined to a kind of crib; never once could she change her position for all that time. "And yet," said Dr. Arnold, and I think his words are very beautiful, "I never saw a more perfect instance of the power of love and of a sound mind. Intense love, almost to annihilation of selfishness; a daily martyrdom for twenty years, during which she adhered to her early-formed resolution of never talking about herself; thoughtful about the very pins and ribbons of my wife's dress, about the making of a doll's cap for a child, but of herself — save as regarded her improvement in all goodness — wholly thoughtless; enjoying everything lovely, graceful, beautiful, high-minded, whether in God's works or man's, with the keenest relish: inheriting the earth to the fulness of the promise; and preserved through the valley of the shadow of death from all fear of impatience, and from every cloud of impaired reason which might mar the beauty of Christ's glorious work. May God grant that I might come within one hundred degrees of her place in glory!" Such a life was true and beautiful. But the radiance of such a light never cheered this world by chance. A sunny patience, a bright-hearted self-forgetfulness, a sweet and winning interest in the little things of family intercourse, the Divine lustre of a Christian peace, are not fortuitous weeds carelessly flowering out of the life-garden. It is the internal which makes the external. It is the force residing in the atoms which shapes the pyramid. It is the beautiful soul which forms the crystal of the beautiful life without.

It is impossible to over estimate, or rather to estimate, the power that lies latent in our churches. We talk of the power that was latent in steam — latent till Watt evoked its spirit from the waters, and set the giant to turn the iron arms of machinery. We talk of the power that was latent in the skies till science climbed their heights, and, seizing the spirit of the thunder, chained it to our surface, abolishing distance, outstripping the wings of time, and flashing our thoughts across rolling seas to distant continents. Yet what are these to the moral power that lies asleep in the congregations of our country and of the Christian world?

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

When young Nelson came home from a birds'-nesting expedition, his aunt chided him for being out so far into the night, and remarked, "I wonder fear did not make you come home." "Fear," said Nelson, "I don't know him." Fit speech for a believer when work ing for God. "Fear? I do not know it! What does it mean?" The Lord is on our side? Whom shall we fear? "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When William Rufus heard of a rebellion at Le Mans, he flung himself, at the news of it, into the first boat, and crossed the channel in the teeth of a storm. When his followers remonstrated with him, he contemptuously replied, "Kings never drown."

(H. O. Mackey.)

Some of the Indian chiefs having become the open enemies of the gospel, Mr. Elliot — sometimes called the Apostle of the American Indians — when in the wilderness, without the company of any other Englishman, was at various times treated in a threatening and barbarous manner by some of those men; yet his Almighty Protector inspired him with such resolution, that he said, "I am about the work of the great God, anal nay God is with me; so that I fear neither you nor all the sachims [or chiefs] in the country. I will go on, and do you touch me if you dare." They heard him and shrank away.

(W. Baxendale.)

1. Intelligence, which is that act of reason whereby we under. stand every particular concerning everything.

2. Science, which is that act of reason whereby we know all truth in all things.

3. Sapience, which is that act of reason whereby we understand and perceive what will follow from everything.

4. Prudence, which is that act of reason whereby we observe the fittest opportunities for the effecting of all things.

5. Art or skill, which is that act of reason whereby we know how to effect everything most skilfully.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

We may perceive that sound minds are not easily come by, whatsoever the world may judge. Some think themselves wise with a little wit, as others do themselves rich with no great wealth.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

For power without love can work, but will not. Love without power would work, but cannot. And power and love can and will, but a sound mind is requisite to guide both.

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

Speaking of his experiences in battle, a soldier-writer says, "How infectious fear is; how it grows when yielded to; and how, when once you begin to run, it soon seems impossible to run fast enough; whereas, if you can manage to stand your ground, the alarm lessens, and sometimes disappears."

(H. O. Mackey.)

A lady was wakened up one morning by a strange noise of pecking at the window, and when she got up she saw a butterfly flying backwards and forwards inside the window in a great fright, because outside there was a sparrow pecking at the glass, wanting to reach the butterfly. The butterfly did not see the glass, but it saw the sparrow, and evidently expected every moment to be caught. Neither did the sparrow see the glass, though it saw the butterfly, and made sure of catching it. Yet all the while the butterfly, because of that thin, invisible sheet of glass, was actually as safe as if it had been miles away from the sparrow." It is when we forget our Protector that our hearts fail us. Elisha's servant was in great fear when he awoke in the morning and saw the city of Dothan eocompassed with horses and chariots and a great host; but when his eyes were opened at the prayer of the prophet, his fears vanished, for he beheld the mountains full of horses and chariots of fire. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee." "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth and for evermore."

(James Inglis.)

The love of God casts out all other fear! Every affection makes him who cherishes it in some degree braver than he would have been without it. It is not degrading to this subject to remind you of what we see away far down in the scale of living beings. Look at that strange maternal instinct that in the lowest animals out of weakness makes them strong, and causes them to forget all terror of the most terrible at the bidding of the mighty and conquering affection. Look at the same thing on the higher level of our own human life. It is not self-reliance that makes the hero. It is having the heart filled with passionate enthusiasm born of love for some person or for some thing. Love is gentle, but it is omnipotent, victor over all. It is the true hero, and martyr if need be, in the human heart! And when we rise to the highest form of it — namely, the love which is fixed upon God — oh I how that should, and if it be right, will, strengthen and brace, and make every man in whom it dwells frank, fearless, careless of personal consequences.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Some time ago a poor fellow, who had been in penal servitude many years, came back to Manchester. He called on an old friend, a teacher of a ragged school, and in course of conversation said, "Can you tell me where Mr. Wright lives?" The teacher replied, "Did you know Mr. Wright?" The man answered "Yes; after I was sent to prison I was hardened; I cursed God, and the judge and jury; I cursed myself, and I cursed the prison; and in my rage I tried to commit suicide; but that day Mr. Wright came into my cell, and knelt down and prayed for me. I would not kneel at first; but when I saw the old gentleman kneel down, and saw his tears trickling down his cheeks, I could not help myself, and I also knelt down and prayed; and that day I gave God my heart. When I came out of prison, I made up my mind to seek him and thank him for his kindness to me." The teacher said, "Ah, my friend, Mr. Wright has been dead a long time." The converted thief exclaimed, "Dead! Mr. Wright dead!" The teacher said, "Yes, he is dead; but the same Spirit which prompted him to kneel down in your cell is in a Person whom I know, who can bless you in every time of need." He exclaimed, "Please tell me his name?" The teacher said, "is name is Jesus Christ."

(W. Birch.)

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