For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control.
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.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.
(H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)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.)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.")
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.
II. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF GENUINE CHRISTIANITY?
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.)I. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS ENDOWED WITH THE SPIRIT OF COURAGE.
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,
II. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS ENDOWED WITH THE SPIRIT OF POWER.
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.
III. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS ENDOWED WITH THE SPIRIT OF LOVE.
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.
IV. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS ENDOWED WITH THE SPIRIT OF SOUNDNESS OF MIND OR OF HEALTH.
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.)
(W. E. Channing, D. D.)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.)
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.)
(J. Barlow, D. D.)
"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.)
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
(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.)
(J. Barlow, D. D.)
(J. Barlow, D. D.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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