1 Timothy 1:18
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on you…
I. WAR, THEREFORE, IS INEVITABLE. You must fight or fly; be the victor or the vanquished. Nay, if you mean to make sure your own salvation, and please Him who hath called you to be a soldier, there is not even that alternative. You are surrounded with foes you cannot shun. Flight would be ruin. The conflict cannot be avoided. Every step will be contested. Yet be not discouraged. The more strenuous the struggle, the more glorious the achievement. Your aid is omnipotent, your resources are infinite, and you "war a good warfare." Few, indeed, of the warfares waged by the powers of this world are worthy of the means employed and the men sacrificed to win them. But the Christian soldier "wars a good warfare."; emphatically, pre-eminently" and peculiarly good; good in all its agencies, its aspects, and its issues.
II. Have we not A GOOD CAUSE? Did the Israelites glory in a good cause, contending for the Land of Promise? the Crusaders, marching to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre? your forefathers, asserting with the sword their independence of Great Britain? But the Christian cause is the purest and noblest that ever kindled the enthusiasm of a people or won the admiration of the world. It is identified with all that is important in truth, beautiful in virtue, sublime in charity, or glorious in hope. It is the cause that marshals the cherubim, and stirs the deep vengeance of hell; that brought Jehovah from the throne of the universe to the manger. We fight, not to desolate provinces and degrade princes, but to convert earth into a paradise and enthrone humanity with its Redeemer. No wrongs have we to avenge, no malice to gratify, nor cruel thirst for blood.
III. And have we an unworthy CAPTAIN? What Hebrew warrior did not glory in his Joshua or his David? What mediaeval crusader did not proudly follow his Richard, his Philip, or his Bertrand? What Frenchman did not rejoice in the name of Napoleon, what Englishman in the name of Wellington, what American in the name of Washington? Who of all the myriads that took part in your late civil conflict, was not ready to cheer for Grant or Lee, for Sherman or Jackson? But "who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?" "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." It is the Captain of the Lord's host, the champion of our redemption. He comes to avenge us of our enemies, and lead our captivity captive. What are the qualities most desirable in a military leader? In the highest perfection, they are all found in Christ. Is it wisdom? He is the embodied wisdom of God. Experience? Ever since the original revolt in heaven He has been battling with the hosts of hell. Valour? Single-handed and alone He went forth to meet the Prince of darkness with all his dire array. Success? He foiled the cunning foe in the wilderness of Judaea, and triumphed over his embattled myriads upon the cross. Kindness? Once He died to save His enemies, and now He wears the name of every follower punctured with a spear upon His heart. Ability to reward? The thrones of heaven are His, and a kingdom such as earth never knew He promises hereafter to every conqueror. Such a Captain, who would not joyfully follow?
IV. And what say you of our ARMOIR? Our panoply is ample and impenetrable, and our weapons are effective because they are Divine.
V. And what think you of our SUPPLIES? "Who goeth a warfare at his own charges?" "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." What a measure is that, and what a medium of communication! "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think." "They who trust in the Lord shall not want any good thing." Our Divine commissariat is furnished with all that we can possibly require in any emergency of the campaign.
VI. And how like you our DEFENCES? "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake at the swelling thereof."
VII. And have you not seen the array of OUR ALLIES? "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even many thousands of angels; the Lord is in the midst of them, as in Sinai, in the holy place." "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" See them leading righteous Lot and his family forth from Sodom, before the fire-tempest descends upon the doomed city. See them deploying from the host of God to meet Jacob, returning from Padan Aram, about to encounter the formidable bands of his offended brother. See them, with their flashing cavalry and flaming artillery, covering all the mountain round about Elisha, and delivering a whole army into the hands of a single man. If heaven could spare so splendid an escort for the patriarch, so glorious a body-guard for the prophet, what millions on millions incalculable must be engaged on behalf of the whole Church militant in the wilderness! And if one angel could slay all the first-born of Egypt in a night, or destroy seventy thousand men of Israel at a stroke, or stiffen in death a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers with a blast of his breath, what have we to fear, around whom encamp myriads of celestial warriors? What power of hell shall scatter the cohorts of heaven?
VII. And who EVER HAD BETTER COMRADES? They are called, and chosen, and faithful. Like Saul and Jonathan, they are stronger than lions and swifter than eagles. Like the intrepid son of Jesse, they can run through a troop and leap over a wall. One can chase a thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight. The saints of all ages form but "one army of the living God," and the militant rear hold fellowship with the victorious van.
IX. AND WHO EVER FOUGHT WITH GREATER SUCCESS? What power has prevailed against the Lord's redeemed? Their interest is His; and to defeat them were to defeat Omnipotence.
X. AND WHO EVER WON SO RICH A REWARD? Where centres the ambition of earthly heroism? In the victor's palm, the monarch's crown, the empty plaudits of the multitude, "a fancied life in others' breath," a name on the scroll of history, a niche in the temple of fame, a monumental column in the Capitol, a memory embalmed in the nation's heart, a tuneful immortality in the songs of ages. But your reward is "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
(J. Cross, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;