"And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return." 2 Tim. 1:12

How calm and tranquil was the spirit that dictated these words--how full of joyful anticipation! And, under what circumstances were they penned? Not in the morning of life, when hope sheds her brightest radiance--not in the full vigor of manhood, when death appears still far distant. No; the hand of Time was upon the great apostle. He was about to lay his hoary head upon the block, and to terminate his long and faithful ministry--his unexampled labors and sufferings for the cross of Christ--amid the cruel agonies of martyrdom. From that eventful hour, when the dazzling light from heaven shone upon his pathway, year after year had been devoted to the service of Him whose religion he had sought so eagerly to extirpate, and every year had seen him more ardent and zealous--bolder and more abundant in labors. If we want to know what his life was, we have only to turn to 2 Cor. 11:24-27–"Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm."

That was his daily, outward life; yet we shall greatly mistake the life of that glorious apostle if we suppose it to have been a gloomy and unhappy one. It was filled with blessedness--the blessedness which arises from inward peace, from communion with God in Christ, and from self-sacrifice and consecration to His service. But, we notice chiefly the fact, that it is no beginner who utters these hopeful words. No; it is Paul, "the aged"--Paul, bending beneath the burden of many years--the veteran spiritual warrior; for he tells us, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand." It was thus, at the close of life's journey--on the very brink of the Jordan, when its dark waters were rushing by his side--that he encouraged the young Timothy, feeble in constitution, whom he so tenderly loved as his son in the gospel--who was entering into the service from which he was about to be removed, and who was exposed to the perils and hardships from which he was escaping, "to watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, and make full proof of his ministry."

It was at this momentous crisis, that his faith approved itself--not the leaf, driven by the tempest--not the reed, shaken with the wind--but an oak, more deeply rooted, by the raging blasts of a thousand storms, and unmoved, when the last mighty whirlwinds were sweeping through its branches. He stands before us, in the attitude of calm Christian assurance, with the fire of heaven lighting up his eye, even while the chain of persecution is fretting his aged frame, and the fire or sword of martyrdom is waiting for its prey. The shades of eventide are beginning to gather, but the gleam of a brighter sky is seen beyond, and, with the assured conviction, that the object of his life is fully accomplished, these are his impressive words, "I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return."

We may imagine him in his lonely, gloomy cell, reviewing his past eventful life, casting his eye on the perilous path he had traversed, and on the Ebenezers with which it was marked. He seems to say, "Time was when I had other hopes and prospects--when another ground of confidence was mine--when, if I had trusted in the world's promises, I had a brilliant prospect before me--wealth, honor, fame--all these were the gilded toys which urged me onward; but, another vision was presented--Jesus, whom I persecuted, spoke to me. His service was void of all earthly honor; I had nothing to anticipate but suffering and shame--the bitter hostility of foes--the unkind desertion of friends--I had sinful habits to break--guilty passions to subdue, and countless dangers to brave--but He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, and my strength is made perfect in weakness.' I took Him at His word--I embraced Him as my Savior--I placed myself at His disposal, 'Lord, what will You have me to do?' Though the very chief of sinners, He welcomed me; and then I learned the depth and sincerity of His love--the strength and security of His friendship; then I learned the deep enormity of sin--so stern and crushing, that it bowed down a Head of spotless innocence; then I learned that, had I stood alone upon the earth--the God-man must have wrestled, and toiled, and wept, and died, to preserve me from sinking beneath the vengeance of Heaven, and from being stricken by the wrath of the Almighty. I beheld my sins through the bleeding wounds of my Savior, and realized my own share in the dark tragedy of Calvary. Faith brought Christ into my heart, and I believed on the Son of God. He told me at the outset, that I would have the flesh to crucify, and corruption to mortify--that I would have a battle to fight, enemies to conquer, a wilderness to traverse, and a race to run. And I have found His every word come true--the warning and the promise, the danger and deliverance, the toil and the tranquility, the outward suffering and the inward calm; and now I declare, as with my dying breath, that my estimate of Jesus has undergone no change--that what I said, in prospect of trial and suffering for His sake, I am still ready to say--now that the trial, fierce and fiery as it is, has been partly undergone, and even now is at its sharpest. For His cause I suffer these things, 'nevertheless, I am not ashamed.' He is still my all in all--the Faithful and True. 'As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I--but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.' I have entrusted my soul to Him, and I am persuaded that it is safe in His keeping. I am not making a plunge into eternity in the dark--I am not flinging myself into the fires of martyrdom blindfold; but I have weighed the grounds of my conviction--I have looked at the soundness of the Rock, to see whether it will bear me--I have tasted that 'the Lord is gracious,' and, therefore, 'and I am sure that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.'"

Oh, strong assurance! most comforting persuasion! Christian! do you desire to have the same confidence in Jesus in a dying hour? Then live to Jesus as did the apostle. Give Him your confidence, your love--and He will prove himself faithful to the end. It may not be, that you shall exhibit the same strong faith, or give expression to the same feelings of unshaken reliance on the Savior, but you will have peace, you will have security. Let the shadows gather round you, dark and gloomy--let the night close in upon your weary footsteps, threatening and tempestuous--still the eye of faith will discover the Soul-guardian--the Treasure-keeper--the Friend that sticks closer than any brother.

Do you long for the grace of assurance?--do you feel, at times, a doubt of your soul's safety? So did the apostle. He dreaded, lest "after having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway." Assurance is not a grace given to the believer, and never again weakened or removed. His experience is varied, his journey is not all sunshine. There are times of cloud, and storm, and tempest--yes, even when his heart is glad and joyous--when, with a holy rapture, he can exclaim, "You have anointed my head with oil, and made my cup to run over," there are unseen yet powerful agencies at work, to depress and sadden his soul. Today, he is bold and ardent--tomorrow, weak and feeble; today, he realizes the assurance, "I have blotted out your transgressions as a cloud, and your iniquities as a thick cloud from before me;"--tomorrow, he is sunk in the very depths of despondency, and cries out, "wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Long years of training and discipline are needed, before the Christian can hope to take up the language of the great apostle.

But, fear not, trembling one!--Still "cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you," still cling to the assurance, "I will not leave you nor forsake you." Oh! look back on the page of your experience, as did the apostle, and "be not afraid." See your pilgrimage-path, studded thick with Ebenezers, testifying to your Savior's faithfulness and mercy. Think of His manifold gracious interpositions in the past--sustaining you in trial, supporting you in perplexity, helping you, when vain was the help of man. Take these things as the pledges of faithfulness in the future, and let this ever be your prayer–

"Lord, give me grace to trust You at all times--in joy and in sorrow--in sickness and in health--and, in Your good time, enable me truly to say with Your servant of old, 'I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.'"

"The leaves around me falling,
Are preaching of decay;
The hollow winds are calling,
'Come, pilgrim, come away!'
The day, in night declining,
Says, 'I must too decline;'
The year, its life resigning,
Its lot foreshadows mine.

"The light my path surrounding,
The loves to which I cling,
The hopes within me bounding,
The joys that round me wing;
All melt, like stars of even,
Before the morning's ray,
Pass upwards into heaven,
And chide at my delay.

"The friends gone there before me,
Are calling from on high,
And joyous angels o'er me,
Tempt sweetly to the sky.
'Why wait?' they say, 'and where
Mid scenes of death and sin?
Oh, rise to glory here,
And find true life begin.'

"I hear the invitation,
And fain would rise and come,
A sinner to salvation,
An exile to his home.
But while I here must linger,
Thus, thus, let all I see
Point on with faithful finger,
To heaven, O Lord, and Thee."
–H. F. Lyte

"Lord, when we bend before Your throne,
And our confessions pour,
Teach us to feel the sins we own,
And shun what we deplore.

"Our contrite spirits pitying see,
And penitence impart;
And let a healing ray from Thee
Beam hope upon the heart.

"When we disclose our needs in prayer,
No we our wills resign;
And not a thought our bosoms share,
Which is not wholly Thine.

"Let faith each meek petition fill,
And waft it to the skies;
And teach our hearts 'tis goodness still
That grants it or denies."


Home       QUOTES       SERMONS       BOOKS