When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
I. THE APOSTLE'S DIRECTIONS. "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest, and the books, especially the parchments."
1. There is no evidence that the cloke was an ecclesiastical vestment; for there is no evidence of vestments being worn at all in the primitive Church. It was a thick cloke or mantle which the apostle needed in view of the approaching winter. His death might be near at hand, but, as its day was uncertain, it was natural he should provide against the winter cold.
2. It was a precious consignment that was left with Carpus, the Christian disciple, at Troas. It included, besides his cloke, books and parchments.
(1) Even an apostle could not do without books for his ministry.
(2) The parchments were more valuable than the books, containing, as they did probably, some of his own writings, if not the Holy Scriptures.
II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S DIRECTIONS.
1. The request concerning his cloke implied that he was a poor man, as well as exposed to hardship and cold.
2. It suggests that he was partially deserted by the Yeoman Christians. Why could they not give him or lend him a cloke? What had become of the Roman Christians who met him, so many years before, fifty miles from the city, and gave him such a hearty welcome?
3. It proves his personal independence. He will not ask a cloke from any one. - T.C.
The cloke... the books... the parchments.I. Let us LOOK AT THIS MEMORABLE CLOAK which Paul left with Carpus at Troas. Troas was a principal seaport-town of Asia Minor. Very likely the apostle Paul was seized at Troas on the second occasion of his being taken before the Roman emperor. The soldiers usually appropriated to themselves any extra garment in the possession of an arrested person, such things being considered as the perquisites of those who made the arrest. The apostle may have been forewarned of his seizure, and therefore prudently committed his few books and his outer garment, which made up all his household stuff, to the care of a certain honest man named Carpus. Although Troas was full six hundred miles' journey from Rome, yet the apostle Paul is too poor to purchase a garment, and so directs Timothy, as he is coming that way, to bring his cloak. He needs it much, for the sharp winter is coming on, and the dungeon is very, very chilly.
1. Let us perceive here with admiration, the complete self-sacrifice of the apostle Paul for the Lord's sake. Remember what the apostle once was. He was great, famous, and wealthy. Ah! how he emptied himself, and to what extremity of destitution was he willing to bring himself for Christ's name sake. The Saviour must die in absolute nakedness, and the apostle is made something like Him as he sits shivering in the cold.
2. We learn how utterly forsaken the apostle was by his friends. If he had not a cloak of his own, could not some of them lend him one? No; he is so utterly left, that although he is ready to die of ague in the dungeon, not a soul will lend or give him a cloak. What patience does this teach to those similarly situated I In your greatest trials do you find your fewest friends? Have those who once loved and respected you fallen asleep in Jesus? And have others turned out to be hypocritical and untrue? "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me." So now, when man deserts you, God will be your Friend.
3. Our text shows the apostle's independence of mind. Why did not he borrow a cloak? Why did not he beg one? That is not the apostle's taste at all. He has a cloak, and though it is six hundred miles away, he will wait until it comes. A Christian man would do well to remember that it is never to his honour, though it is not always to his dishonour, to beg.
4. We see here, how very little the apostles thought of how they were dressed. Paul wants enough to keep him warm; he asks no more. When good Bishop Hooper was led out to be burnt, he had been long in prison, and his clothes were so gone from him, that he borrowed an old scholar's gown, full of rags and holes, that he might put it on, and went limping with pains of sciatica and rheumatism to the stake. We read of , that he lay in a damp, cold dungeon, and was refused anything to cover him in his nakedness and cold. Every saint is an image of Christ, but a poor saint is His express image, for Christ was poor. So, if you are brought to such a pitch with regard to poverty, that you scarcely know how to provide things decent by way of raiment, do not be dispirited; but say, "My Master suffered the same, and so did the apostle Paul"; and so take heart, and be of good cheer.
5. Paul's cloak at Troas shows me how mighty the apostle was to resist temptation. "I do not see that," you say. The apostle had the gift of miracles. Our Saviour, though able to work miracles, never wrought anything like a miracle on His own account; nor did His apostles. Miraculous gifts were entrusted to them with gospel ends and purposes, for the good of others, and for the promotion of the truth; but never for themselves.
II. We will LOOK AT HIS BOOKS. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them.
1. Even an apostle must read. He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yes he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy, and so he says to every preacher, "Give thyself unto reading." The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted, lie who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains proves that he has no brains of his own.
2. Paul herein is a picture of industry. He is in prison; he cannot preach: what will he do? As he cannot preach, he will read. As we read of the fishermen of old and their boats. The fishermen were gone out of them. What were they doing? Mending their nets. So if Providence has laid you upon a sick bed, and you cannot teach your class — if you cannot be working for God in public, mend your nets by reading. If one occupation is taken from you, take another, and let the books of the apostle read you a lesson of industry.
III. We now want to have AN INTERVIEW WITH THE APOSTLE PAUL HIMSELF, for we may learn much from him. The poor old man, without his cloak, wraps his ragged garment about him. Sometimes you see him kneeling down to pray, and then he dips his pen into the ink, and writes to his dear son Timothy. No companion, except Luke, who occasionally comes in for a short time. Now, how shall we find the old man? What sort of temper will he be in?
1. We find him full of confidence in the religion which has cost him so much.
2. But he is not only confident. You will notice that this grand old man is having communion with Jesus Christ in his sufferings.
4. In expectation of a crown.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. Does it not show us that this great and holy apostle was first a man like ourselves; a tried and suffering man with human wants and human sympathies; aye, and human limitations, and with transcendentally severer trials, yet with no greater privileges than we enjoy? Does he not call to us with more clear encouragement, "Faint not, dear brother, dear sister in the Lord; I, too, was weak; I, too, was tempted; but thou, no less than I, canst do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us"?
II. Then, in what a lovely light of manliness, good sense, and contentment does this place the apostle's character! The sword, he well knows, is hanging over his head whose flash shall slay him, but life is life. Until the Lord calls him, there is no reason at all why life should not go on, not only in its quiet duties, but also with such small blessings as it yet may bring. There is no flaring fanaticism, no exaggerated self-denial, here. The wintry nights will be cold and dull; there is no sort of merit in making them colder and duller. That is why he writes for the cloak and the dear old books. God, for our good, sends us all trials enough to bear, but it is only for our good. There is not the least reason — it is not even right — to create tortures and miseries for ourselves which God has not sent us. We are allowed to take and we ought to take every harmless and every innocent gift which God permits to us, and to thank Him for it.
III. Then, look at the matter in one more light. What is it that a life of ceaseless ungrudging labour has left to St. Paul? What earthly possessions has the apostle gained as the sum total of services to the world, unparalleled in intensity and unparalleled in self-denial? Perhaps he wants to leave some small memento behind him, some trifling legacy by which some true heart may remember him "ere the rippled sea of life flows smooth once more over his nameless grave." Just as the hermit St. Antony left the great bishop St. his one sole possession, which was his sheep-skin cloak, so St. Paul, perhaps, might have liked to leave to the kind and faithful Luke, or to the true and gentle Timothy, the cloak, the books, the parchments. But, oh, how small a result of earth's labours, if earth were everything, worth far less than a dancer gets for a single figure in a theatre, or an acrobat for a fling on the trapeze; not worth one-millionth part of what a patent brings in for some infinitesimal invention! Oh, the work and the reward are not the same for eternity. It is not for such rewards that the great high service of the world is done. Earth's rewards, observe, have marvellously small relations to intrinsic values. The singer who has a fine note in her voice may blaze in diamonds worth a king's ransom. But. the thinker who has raised the aim and nature of nations may die unnoticed; and the poet, who has enriched the blood of the earth, may be left to starve. Paul pours out his whole life as a libation on God's altar, in agonies for his fellow-men; he cleanses the customs, he brightens the hope, he purifies the life of men; he adds, for centuries, to the untold ennoblement of generations; what is the sum total of his earthly reward? What is the inventory of all his earthly possessions as he sits upon his prison floor? Just "the cloke that I left at Troas, and the books, but especially the parchments." Would that content you? Do you think that he sighed or was envious of evildoers, when he contrasted his solo possessions — that cloak and those few books, which were all that he had — with the jewels of the adventurer Agrippa, or the purple of the execrable Nero? Not one whir. They were not what he had aimed at. He sat loose to those earthly interests on which men's minds are sometimes to the last so deplorably and so hideously fixed. No; better as it is. He will thank God for such warmth as he may find in the cloak and such consolation as the books may bring him, and, for the rest, he will trust death, and he will throw himself on God.
(R. W. Dale.)Walter Raleigh was his calm study. In the condemned cell Madame Roland, less moved by the certainty of her own fate than by apprehension for her beloved husband, fortified her mind against possible madness by the composition of her memoirs. Lady Jane Grey and Mary Queen of Scots beguiled imprisonment of half its terrors with hard study and careful writing.
I. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODILY HEALTH. Young men are often particularly neglectful on this matter. Many is the man whose constitution has been undermined for life by his own carelessness as a youth in respect of food, rest, and clothing.
II. MAINTAIN THE CULTURE OF YOUR MIND. Do not be so engrossed with business, that you rarely open an instructive book. Do not forget that your intellect wants to be stimulated and fed, as it cannot be if you think of nothing but bills, and accounts, and orders, and invoices, and what is vulgarly and expressively called "shop." A sailor, who had circumnavigated the globe with Captain Cook, was pressed by his friends to give them some account of the wonders he had seen, and at last consented to do so on a certain evening. A large and eager company assembled, in expectation of a great intellectual treat; when the rough mariner thus began and ended his description of his travels: "I have been round the world with Captain Cook, and all that I saw was the sky above me and the water beneath me." And, truth to tell, there are young men who show little more discernment than that blunt sailor. They have no intellectual ambition, no thirst for knowledge, no passionate desire for self-improvement. If business is going on well, and their salary is regularly paid, and they have enough to eat and drink, they are content. There is no systematic study; no training of the mind, no whetting or sharpening of the intellectual faculties. I warn you, young men, against so ignoble a use of what is, in some respects, the best part of life. Lord Bacon's opinion upon books he thus expressed: "That histories make men wise, poets, witty; mathematics, subtle; natural science, deep; moral philosophy, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to debate." As you would possess such qualities, then, your reading must be catholic and extensive.
III. ESPECIALLY SEE TO THE WELFARE OF THE SOUL. However limited be your reading, see that the Bible has its rightful place. It is said that in the British Museum alone there are so many books that the mere mechanical reading of them would demand a thousand years. So you cannot read everything — you must make your selection; but oh! let this peerless volume reign supreme in your library. Let it be the monarch of your bookshelves. There is an old Latin proverb, which is good enough so long as the Bible is out of account, "Cave ab homine unius libri — i.e., Beware of a man of one book." But when that one book is the Book of God, the counsel may be inverted; for there is no man more to be sought after than the man who daily feeds from this table, and drinks from this well. "Especially the parchments." Let no general reading, however excellent and instructive, elbow this to one side. Be diligent students of God's Word, "and," as Dr. Doddridge said, "you shall be excellent scholars ten thousand years hence"; whereas, however proficient in secular knowledge, if the Bible be neglected, you shall be unfitted for the occupations of the redeemed in heaven. You have a richer Bible than ever Paul possessed. Those clumsy, greasy "parchments," written by laborious scribes, would form a strange contrast to such triumphs of modern skill as are now sent out in millions from the great repository in Queen Victoria Street; and you can place in your waistcoat-pocket treasures of inspiration, which in the apostle's time would have taxed the strength of a man to carry. The greater, then, your responsibility. Oh, make good use of your Bibles! Above all, accept without delay the Divine salvation revealed.
(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)
1. A striking illustration of the manner of Divine inspiration. The divinest communications of truth appear in connection with things of personal and secular concern.
2. A beautiful display of spiritual self-possession.
3. An affecting utterance of human needs. With all his present principles, past achievements, and future destiny, he has yet necessities as well as resources. Spirituality did not destroy his physical sensibilities; heroic courage and independence did not deaden his social affections; supernatural illumination did not make him depreciate the ordinary means of information and excitement.
I. PHYSICAL. "The cloak." Paul needed a garment, and wished for one. To slight the body is a mark of heretics; to destroy it is to be a murderer. What a world of need is caused by its possession! What urgent demands does it make on care and effort, skill and labour! But the thought here is, that the body is a source of trouble, inconvenience, dependence; — that small things may lead to its discomfort and injury. Let but the ordinary laws of nature be broken; let but the ordinary operations of life be suspended; let there be but a little accident, a slight mistake, a temporary forgetfulness; and how bitterly are we made to feel the pressure and responsibility of our material charge! We cannot afford to trifle with or ignore it. The most spiritual and independent must remember the mislaid or forgotten dress.
II. THE SOCIAL. "When thou comest." "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me." Man is a social being — made to feel for and with his fellow-men. He is revealed, regaled, renewed by fellowship. It is a lamp, a feast, a buttress of his being. It is everything whereby he can be ministered unto, or help to minister. Fellowship in woe, in joy, in work, in thought, is a rich delight, and in most cases a great necessity.
III. THE SPIRITUAL. "The books, especially the parchments." We know not what these were, but are sure they were books tending to cultivation of mind and heart. What a field of thought is opened up by these words I See the ministry of minds; see their working and results preserved and propagated by the use of letters; see the labours and rewards of some made the inheritance of others; and all this beyond the sphere Of personal presence and immediate influence see it done for men and ages unborn. What a debt we owe to books! What information and stimulus! what means of growth! what instruments of knowledge, joy, and power! "Especially the parchments." Some think these were a kind of commonplace book, in which the apostle put his own reflections and precious passages met with in his reading. If so, we have an important thought. That is most a man's own which he has originated, or thoroughly appropriated by meditation. Books are nothing but as they are "read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested." Lessons:
1. The subject teaches humility.
(A. J. Morris.)
Edinburgh Christian Magazine.It appears to us that Paul's request for his cloak left at Troas affords an undesigned proof of a striking feature in his character — viz., that sobriety of mind which, on the one hand, never separates the things of earth from the things of heaven; nor, on the other hand, ever esteems spiritual-mindedness, and the ardent contemplation of unseen things, to be inconsistent with attention to the ordinary ongoings, the common duties, and little details of every-day life. Paul was not further removed from the worldliness which never seeks to ascend in heart to heaven, than from the fanaticism and morbid pietism we sometimes witness, which only condescends to visit earth. The "light of life" which he enjoyed filled and blended into one common glory the things of earth and heaven, of time and of eternity! At one moment, for instance, we hear him exclaim (vers. 6-8). Yet, when his course was being finished, his death near, his reward sure, and while he sees the glories of heaven opening before his enraptured eye, it is even then that he expresses his anxiety to obtain his cloak from Treas. What evidence does this coincidence afford of calmness, peace, and sobriety of mind! Such we have sometimes witnessed, too, in aged Christians of long experience, who, on their deathbeds, could gaze upon the unseen world of everlasting rest, on which they were entering with perfect peace and full assured hope, while, at the same time, they attended with cheerful spirit to those common household duties and family arrangements from which, in person, they were soon to be for ever severed.
(Edinburgh Christian Magazine.)
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