2Ti_2:10. I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
THE labours of faithful ministers are, for the most part, but ill requited by a wicked and ungrateful world. But, in the midst of all the opposition they meet with, they have the consolation to know, that all efforts to stop the progress of the Gospel shall be in vain. This was St. Paul’s comfort, when imprisoned at Rome for the word’s sake, that, however he might be bound, the word was not; and “therefore” he submitted the more cheerfully to his troubles, being assured, that his endeavours to save the souls of his fellow-creatures would be crowned with success.
This subject leads us to consider,
St. Paul’s love to the elect—
Notwithstanding the word “elect” has passed into a term of reproach, there most assuredly is an elect people, “a remnant according to the election of grace [Note: Rom_11:5.],” whom “God has chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth [Note: 2Th_2:13.].”
Towards these St. Paul felt a peculiar regard—
[He loved all, even his very enemies, and would gladly have submitted to the heaviest afflictions for their sake [Note: Rom_9:1-3.]. But his love to the elect was both more exalted in its nature, and more abundant in its degree. He considered them as the special objects of God’s love; as children of the same heavenly parent; as members of the same mystical body; and as fellow-heirs of the same glory. Hence they were all engraven on his very heart: and hence he exhorts us, while we do good unto all men, to do it more especially unto the household of faith [Note: Gal_6:10.].]
For their sake he willingly endured every trouble that could come upon him—
[No man ever endured so much as he in his Master’s cause. This we may see from the long catalogue of his troubles which he himself has left us [Note: 2Co_11:23-28.]. But, says he, “None of these things move me [Note: Act_20:24.]:” “I rejoice in my sufferings for the elect’s sakes [Note: Col_1:24.];” “most gladly will I spend and be spent for them, though the more abundantly I love them, the less I be loved [Note: 2Co_12:15.]:” I am so “affectionately desirous of them, that I am willing to impart to them, not the Gospel only, but my own soul also, because they are dear unto me [Note: 1Th_2:8.]:” “yea, if I be offered (and my blood be poured out as a libation) upon the sacrifice and service of their faith, I joy and rejoice with them all, and desire them also to joy and rejoice with me [Note: Php_2:17.];” for, so far am I from looking forward to it with fear, or accounting it an occasion of grief, that I esteem it a blessed subject of mutual congratulations.]
How amiable and praiseworthy was this heavenly disposition!
[Certainly the love of Christ in dying for us, infinitely exceeds all that ever was manifested by any human being. But, next to Christ, St. Paul seems to have most abounded in love to man. He was indeed a very bright resemblance of his Divine Master. And what a world would this be, if all were actuated by the same spirit and temper! Even those who cultivate least of this spirit themselves, must confess, that the universal prevalence of it would make a very heaven upon earth.]
But the Apostle’s regard to the elect was not a mere carnal affection, as we shall see, if we consider,
The end he aimed at on their behalf—
The happiness provided for the elect, is exceeding great and glorious—
[For them is reserved “salvation,” even salvation from sin and Satan, death and hell. It is, moreover, a salvation “with glory;” not a mere exemption from punishment, but an unspeakable felicity in the immediate vision and fruition of their God. Nor is it ever to come to an end: its duration will continue as long as the soul itself shall exist. To crown the whole, it is a salvation in Christ Jesus, not merely as it is purchased by his blood (though that will infinitely enhance its value) but as it is treasured up in him, and shall be enjoyed in and through him, as the one medium of its communication for ever and ever.]
That they might obtain this, was the great object of his desires, the one scope of his labours—
[He had no doubt at all respecting his own salvation [Note: 2Co_5:1.]. But could he be content to go to heaven alone? No; he would gladly have drawn all he could along with him [Note: So the church. Son_1:4.]. It was for this end that he became all things to all men [Note: 1Co_9:22.]: and to this he looked forward as his joy, his hope, his crown of rejoicing [Note: 1Th_2:19.]. There was not one weak, but he sympathized with him; not one turned aside, but he burned with an ardent desire to restore him [Note: 2Co_11:29.]. To such a degree was his soul bound up in the welfare of the elect, that he could say, “Now I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord:” nor did any thing appear too great for him either to do, or suffer, provided he might be instrumental in accomplishing this blessed end [Note: 1Th_3:7-9.].]
What reason have most professors of religion to be ashamed of their attainments!
[Beyond a doubt, the Apostle’s spirit ought to be the spirit of all Christians [Note: 1Jn_3:16.]. But how little of it is seen in the Christian Church! How many are there who are ready to “bite and devour one another,” instead of being willing to lay down their lives for each other! And how little self-denial is there even in the best of us! How little will we do, or suffer, either for the temporal or spiritual welfare of our brethren! Let us blush at our want of love; and labour henceforth to benefit the bodies, and more especially to save the souls, of all around us.]
How infatuated are they who have no concern for their own souls!
[Wherefore was Paul so earnest for the salvation of others, but because he knew somewhat of the value of a soul? He knew its happiness, if saved; and its misery, if lost. Shall another then be more concerned for us, than we for ourselves? Shall another be ready to do and suffer all things for us, and we be unwilling to do or suffer any thing for our own good? Let us remember, that no present gratifications can compensate for the loss of salvation; and that eternal glory will infinitely over-balance all that can be endured in the pursuit of it.]
How must they be blinded by the devil, who oppose the salvation of their fellow-creatures!
[There are too many who scoff at piety, and endeavour, by ridicule or persuasion, to turn men from the practice of it. Alas! what an awful contrast do their characters form with that of the Apostle! Let such consider the warning given them by our Lord, that it were better for them to have a millstone hanged about their neck, and to be cast into the sea, than they should offend one of his little ones [Note: Luk_17:2.].]