Make every effort to come to me quickly,
I. THE APOSTLE HAD BEEN DESERTED BY DEMAS. "Demas hath forsaken me."
1. This brought great distress to the apostle:
(1) Because Demas had been a fellow labourer and friend (Colossians 4:14).
(2) Because he forsook him at a critical time in his personal history, when he was already disheartened by the Asiatic deserters and in the near prospect of death.
(3) Because there was a special need for such as Demas to stand by the gospel in the city which was the heart of paganism, and to show courage and constancy in persecution.
2. The cause of the desertion was more distressing. "Having loved this present world." It may have been love of life or love of ease, or the desire to get back to old associations at Thessalonica (probably his native place), or the desire for pleasure or wealth. But it was a fatal passion. The love of this world is inconsistent with the true life, for all that is in the world is evil - "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life." It is all, in the present order of things, opposed to God and destructive to man. Nothing but Christ can deliver us from the power of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).
II. THE APOSTLE WAS NOW ALMOST ALONE. Other fellow labourers had gone on their errands of usefulness to various quarters - no doubt with his heart's consent: Crescens to Galatia; Titus to Dalmatia, on the Adriatic; Tychicus, an old friend, and once before sent to Ephesus, goes back there by the apostle's directions. Luke alone of all the ministers of Christ keeps the aged apostle company; for though such brethren as Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia now dutifully attend upon him, yet the apostle is anxious to see Timothy, and begs that Mark may accompany him, for "he is useful to me for ministering," both in evangelistic and in personal service. - T.C.
Come shortly unto me.I. HUMAN COMPANIONSHIPS ARE VERY NECESSARY. The ear thirsts for a friend's voice; the heart hungers for a friend's love.
II. HUMAN COMPANIONSHIPS ARE VERY CHANGING. Changes are caused by distance, death, depravity.
III. HUMAN COMPANIONSHIPS ARE OFTEN GREAT BLESSINGS. Luke was with Paul. Mark was to be brought to him. Timothy was coming to him.
IV. HUMAN COMPANIONSHIPS SOMETIMES PROVE GREAT AFFLICTIONS. Demas, Alexander. Men suffer most when "wounded in the house of their friends."
V. HUMAN COMPANIONSHIPS MUST SOMETIMES FAIL US. Friends are sometimes scared by poverty, failure, shame. Besides, companionship can do little in our intense bodily pain, mental anguish, spiritual conflict, throes of death.
(U. R. Thomas.)1. Personal presence is to be preferred before writing.
2. The society and help of good men is much to be desired. There is much comfort and good to be gained thereby.
3. The strongest Christians sometimes may be helped by weaker. A Paul may stand in need of a Timothy.
4. A minister upon weighty and just occasions may lawfully be absent from his flock for a time.
5. We may love one friend more than another. Timothy was Paul's beloved son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2).
(T. Hall, B. D.)
Homilist.I. THE BEST MEN, IN THE PRESENCE OF DEATH, ARE NOT DISREGARDFUL OF HUMAN SYMPATHY. Even Christ took three disciples with Him to Gethsemane.
II. THE BEST MEN ARE SOMETIMES EXPOSED TO GREAT SOCIAL TRIALS. All of us are constantly losing friends, from one cause or another.
III. THE BEST MEN ARE SUBJECT TO COMMON NEEDS. Men, if they are to be clothed, must procure their own garments; if they are to be educated and informed, must use their own faculties.
IV. THE BEST MEN ARE SOMETIMES TROUBLED BY THEIR INFERIORS. "Alexander the coppersmith." It requires no greatness to do mischief. The most contemptible characters are always the most successful in this work. Lessons —
1. Value true friends.
2. Anticipate social desertions.
3. Do not look for miraculous interpositions to supply your needs. Do not be painfully surprised if you have enemies.
(A. J. Morris.)
(A. J. Morris.)
Demas hath forsaken meI. HIS PREVIOUS HISTORY. (See Philemon 1:24; Colossians 4:14). You see from this noted instance of unfaithfulness how far a man may go in the profession of Christianity, how richly he may seem to be partaking of its privileges, and how highly he may be honoured by its most de voted friends, and yet have no part or lot in it at last. Trust not in mere professions, however loud — in mere external privileges, however distinguishing — in mere intellectual gifts, however excellent — in mere occasional impressions, however lively, in mere outward services to the cause of Christ, however zealous. You may be a fellow-labourer with Paul, and yet a castaway.
II. HIS SUBSEQUENT FAITHLESSNESS. He refused to stand by the apostle in his hour of trial, withheld from him his former sympathy, withdrew from those Christian labours in which he had once been noted as a sharer with him, and shunned to be any longer seen in his society. He was not prepared to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." That want or weakness of faith which he had hitherto concealed from others, and, probably, from himself also, could not be any longer disguised. That world which he had long loved secretly, without perhaps being aware of the strength of his attachment to it, he now openly clung to and embraced.
III. THE CAUSE. Preferring his temporal interests to his Christian duties, he went back and walked no more with the apostle. To love the world, and the things that are in the world, is one of the chief sources of danger to our soul's welfare — of which we are taught in Scripture to beware. It is true there is no reason why a Christian should not engage as industriously as other men in the necessary business of life, and avail himself as thankfully of its varied blessings. It is one thing, however, to use this world in due subordination to religion, and it is quite another thing to serve if as our master, or to rest in it as our chosen portion. Even with those who do not thus love the world, its influence is hostile in many things to their spiritual welfare. Countless are the hindrances it places in their way — wily and ensnaring the allurements which it spreads for them. By its fair looks, and winning smiles, and flattering and crosses, entices them to sin; while, on the other hand, its frowns, and threats, promises, it and hardships, deter them from duty. Now, if such be the influence of the world even over those who do not set their hearts upon it, how much more powerful must its influence be on such as have yielded up to it their full affection! In them, alas! the wicked world without is fatally, seconded by the wicked heart within. The world no sooner knocks, than the kindred spirit is ready to open a wide and effectual door for its admission. Temptations to vanity meeting with a vain heart find it not only a sure but an easy conquest. So was it in the case of Demas. His worldliness of spirit led him to forsake the Christian cause, when he saw that he could not longer adhere to it without endangering or prejudicing his temporal interests. How many a fair promise has it blighted! how many a hopeful beginning has it checked! how often, when the good seed was ready to spring up, have "the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches," checked the rising plant, and rendered it unfruitful!
(T. J. Crawford, D. D.)I. MANY OF YOU ARE YOUNG MEN WHO HAVE BEEN RELIGIOUSLY EDUCATED IN SOME DISTANT HOME, AND HAVE BEEN SENT HERE, OR HAVE COME HERE, FOR THE PURSUITS OF BUSINESS.
II. CONSIDER, DEAR FRIENDS, WHOSE CONSCIENCES DECLARE YOU TO BELONG TO THIS CLASS, WHAT IT IS YOU HAVE FORSAKEN, OR ARE FORSAKING.
1. You are forsaking honour and conscience.
2. You are forsaking the company of those you most respect.
3. And not only so, but you are forsaking the pursuits which will most ennoble your natures.
4. But worst of all, in forsaking religion, you are forsaking you God and Saviour.
III. TO COMPLETE THIS SUBJECT, LET US ASK FOR WHAT, CONSIDERED AT ITS VERY BEST, YOU LEAVE ALL THAT IS BEST AND NOBLEST AND HIGHEST? Demas had forsaken Paul, because he loved the then present world. I suppose that, in some shape or other, is the reason why you have forsaken religion to the extent to which you have forsaken it. It is really Satan's trap into which you have gone; but the bait has been this present world. You do not love penury, disease, privation, remorse, anguish, death. Oh, not at all I you love pleasure, success, money-getting, if you can get it easily. All the other things, the dark sides of this present world, drunkenness, debauchery, covetousness, immorality, over-reaching, you are net in love with these. No! You are lovers of pleasure, according to your idea of pleasure. Suppose you could gain the world, the whole world (and at best it will be an utterly unnoticeable and infinitesimal portion of it you will ever get), and in the chase should lose your own soul!
(R. T. Verrall, B. A.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)Philemon 1:24; Colossians 4:14). Two years later he wrote in sorrow of heart, "Demas hath forsaken me," etc. It was neither cowardice nor self-indulgence which had caused his ruin, but simply the love of the world; the very danger to which so many are exposed in our own day, when the beguiling blandishments of sin, rather than the terrors of persecution, are the devil's most successful devices. There is no shadow of a reason to suppose that Demas had not devoted himself at the outset in downright sincerity and earnestness to God's service; but his weakness was such as might prove the ruin of any one who does not keep every avenue to his heart diligently guarded, lest an inordinate love of temporal things force an entrance there. It is recorded of the King of Navarre, then claiming to be a good Protestant, that being urged by Beza to behave himself in a more manly way for the cause of God, he made answer, that he was "really the friend of the reformers, but that he was resolved to put out no further to sea than he might get safely back to shore in case a storm should unexpectedly arise." In other words, he would not hazard his hopes of the crown of France for the sake of his religion. You know the sequel of his story. Like Demas, he loved "this present world "better than he loved God. He proved a traitor to his religion, and bartered his heavenly crown for a fading one of earth. Some years ago, a young woman was hanged in England for murder, who had been tempted to commit the awful deed for the sake of a five pound note, and this note proved to be a counterfeit! To run such a risk, and to receive such bitter wages! Do those people fare better than this wretched woman who desert God's service for the world's poor bribes? Can the possession of hoards of wealth, or the fading memories of past enjoyments, bring peace in a dying hour? An Arab lost his way in a desert, and was in danger of perishing from hunger, when he was fortunate enough to reach a brackish well, and close by he discovered a little leather bag. "Ah! here's just what I need," he cried, with joy; "dates, or nuts, to appease my gnawing hunger!" He hastily opened the bag, but only to east it away with contempt. It was filled with pearls! What value did they possess for one who was about to die? Just as much as the world will be to those who have sold everything else to gain it.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)I. LET US SEE WHAT IS TOLD US CONCERNING THIS DEMAS.
1. This man was no hypocrite. He had not turned Christian for some selfish hope of worldly good or gain. There never are many of these. In those days probably there were none.
2. Nor was he a timid follower of Jesus. It was rather bleak and stormy for Mr. Facing both ways to show himself, who is usually a very dainty and delicate fellow and cannot stand much exposure. Like the cuckoos and the swallows his season is the summer, and the first touch of frost is enough to send him away.
3. Nor was he moved only by a passing glow of enthusiasm. It is not unlikely that some were — the devotion of an impulsive nature to the noble and the good, especially to the noble and the good in persecution. They receive the seed of the Word with joy, but anon the sun is up and it is withered, for it has no root.
4. And further, it was not that Demas had no religious opportunities and fellowship. That little company, knit together as it was by such bonds of sympathy and fellowship constantly met in Paul's house. Think how the soul of Demas was stirred by the great utterances of St. Paul.
II. WHAT WAS IT THAT RUINED HIM? Having loved this present world.
1. Was it avarice? — the cursed love of gold? — That vice that grows with the years and fattens on its gains: that creeps from prudence to saving, from saving to scraping, from scraping to grubbing, from grubbing to gripping the gold more than life. So clutching his money-bags does Demas go forth, leaving Paul the aged forsaken. The love of money makes many a Demas still. If that was it, pity him. Of all pitiable, ill-tempered, miserable people in the world, this is the worst. Of all fools hell laughs most loudly at the miser, who could not use it when he had it and then left it behind. But how can we warn him? Alas, Demas is the first to sigh and shake his head, and say how dreadful it is, and never suspect that you mean him. The miser never thinks himself rich.
2. Was it love of pleasure, of the world's ways and the world's approbation? The world kills more men with its smiles than with its frowns. Samson can kill the young lion that roars against him, but is himself coaxed to death by Delilah.
3. And yet again, it may have been neither avarice nor worldliness that killed him, but a gradual process of spiritual neglect. So away on the coast I have seen some projecting crag, bold and mighty, joined, as it seemed, and rooted with all the solid continent: one with the ground that stretched down through the round world and away under the seas to the shores of the far west, and inland bound to the hills that were topped and crested with the granite crags — there it stood facing the blasts of the Atlantic, defying them and looking proudly forth on the wild seas that stormed and tossed below it. Yes, winds and waves would never have fetched it down. But within were hollow places, tiny streams that washed the deepening water-courses: then came the silent frosts that gnawed at it, crumbling underneath it; so hollowed out within; then came some day the crash and din of thunder and clouds of dust that darkened heaven and the proud headland was hurled far down below, dashed by the tumbling seas and swept triumphantly by the wild waves. Oh, are you the man, whose prayers were once fervent pleadings with God, and now they are an empty round of phrases? Thy danger is great. A little longer — only that, a little longer, and of thee too it must be spoken — he hath forsaken me.
4. Here is the record of the basest ingratitude. A black ingratitude that rouses our indignation. St. Paul had most likely been the means of bringing him to the knowledge of the truth. He could not have failed to lead him to the richer enjoyment of the truth. Now when his company would have cheered the apostle in his dungeon loneliness we find the record — "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." Ah, thou Demas of to-day, think how the Lord Jesus Christ hath come down from His glory in very love to thee. He sighs — He saith, Thou hast forsaken Me. Oh, Demas, thou hast made a bad bargain. Thirsty ambition in place of quietness and rest. The devil as thy master in place of the loving Lord. The bondage instead of the life of goodness. And for wages at the last heaven given up for hell. Thou hast a thorn in thy pillow. Thy religion is dead, buried; but its ghost haunts thee still and will haunt thee. It meets thee in still and lonely places and whispers of what used to be. Thy religion gone and thyself spoiled for this world, and undone for the world which is to come.
(M. G. Pearse.)I. IT IS THE LOT OF GOD'S DEAREST CHILDREN TO BE OFTENTIMES FORSAKEN OF THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN MOST NEAR UNTO THEM (Matthew 26:56; Psalm 119:87; Psalm 27:10; 1 Kings 19:10).
1. That they may be made conformable to their head, Christ Jesus, who was left alone of His beloved disciples, and had none to comfort Him.
2. That they may fly to Christ, in whom all true comfort lies.
II. THOSE THAT HAVE GONE FAR IN RELIGION MAY YET, NOTWITHSTANDING, FALL AWAY, AND BECOME APOSTATES.
1. Because they rest on their own strength, and there is no support in man to uphold himself.
2. Because Satan, that grand apostate, is fallen from the truth himself, and he labours to draw others to fall back with him.
III. HOW SHALL WE PERSEVERE IN GOODNESS?
1. Labour for a true grace.
2. Get a strong resolution against all oppositions.
3. Labour to know the truth, and to practise what thou knowest.
4. Get the love of God in thy heart.
5. Strive to grow daily in a denial of thyself.
6. Labour to have Divine truths engrafted in thee, that so they may spring forth in thy life.
7. Grow deeper and deeper in humiliation.
IV. THE LOVE OF CHRIST AND THE WORLD CANNOT LODGE TOGETHER IN ONE HEART. They are two masters, ruling by contrary laws.
(R. Sibbes.)1. The expression, "Demas hath forsaken me," etc., probably means, in the first instance, that he loved his life too well to risk it by farther companionship with one, all but condemned, and whose martyrdom might be the signal for his own.
2. But the expression involves something more. That "love of this present world," which assaulted Demas under the lone roof of the apostle, is what we can all understand, and a snare which is more or less laid for us all. It was the result of not having counted the cost of what might be required of him; a perilous "looking back," after "having put his hand to the plough," and therefore being "unfit for the kingdom of God." In his former home at Thessalonica there might be a comparative security to be obtained. There he might find a comparative easement from a confessor's labour; a retirement from the responsibility of a more marked and active disciple. There, at all events, he might not be called upon to defend his faith; to sustain it against the onset of impiety and false doctrine; but might indulge the illusion of adhering to it in what the world calls "peace." There, in short, freed from the severer claims of an appointed trial, he might live as seemed best in his own eyes; and cling to the vain hope of reconciling the duty of a Christian with the divers conflicting habits and temptations, which beset the man of "this present world."
1. It is lawful (in some cases) to name men. The apostle, to make others fear apostasy, names this backslider. Our application must be as a garment fitted for the body it is made for: a garment that is fit for everybody, is fit for nobody. What is spoken in general to all, few will apply to themselves. The only way to benefit our people is to apply the plaster to their particular sores. This made Ahab to put on sackcloth (1 Kings 21:20), and brought in so many thousand converts (Acts 2:37). One preacher that thus faithfully applieth the Word to his people, shall do more good in one year than another that preaeheth in a general way, and never cometh home to the consciences of the people, shall do in many.
2. The godly must look sometimes to be forsaken by their bosom friend. Demas was Paul's intimate acquaintance and coadjutor, yet "Demas bath forsaken me." True friend ship is like a well-built arch which standeth at first at a greater distance, and thence leisurely groweth up into a greater closure at the top, and so it will stand the better for weight.
3. Eminent professors may become grand apostates. Demas is a preacher of the gospel, Paul's coadjutor, and is joined with Luke the evangelist (Colossians 4:14), yet for all this "Demas hath forsaken me." Nothing but sincerity can pre serve us from apostasy. Let us therefore, especially at our first setting forth, dig deep, lay a good foundation, consider what the truth may cost us, and ask ourselves whether we can deny ourselves universally for Christ. If we cannot, or will not, we are not fit to be Christ's disciples, we shall shrink in the wetting, and start aside like a broken bow when a temptation comes (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11).
4. The inordinate love of this present world is the highway to apostasy. It is not the world or the creatures which are good in themselves, but the excessive and inordinate love of them, which ruins men.
5. This world shall have an end and all things in it, it is not an everlasting world, it is but this present world, whose pomp and pleasures soon vanish away (1 Corinthians 7:29, 30, 31).
6. Sin blotteth a man's name, and blemisheth his reputation. Demas, for his worldliness, had a brand set on his name to the end of the world.
7. It is an aggravation of a man's sin to sin deliberately against light and conviction. Demas doth not sin here through passion or fear, but deliberately.(1) He sinned against great light, he being a professor, yea, a preacher of the gospel, could not offend (in this kind especially) through ignorance.(2) Demas sinned against great love. God had enlightened him, and made him a preacher of the gospel, gave him a room in the affections of his chosen vessel Paul, who made him his coadjutor.(3) He sinned against the light of good example. Paul went before him in doing and suffering, and glories in all as comfortable and honourable, yet Demas deserts him, and is not this our sin?(4) To sin upon a light temptation aggravateth a sin. Now Demas had no just ground for flinching. If he feared suffering for Christ, he knew the promise, That he who forsaketh father, or mother, or lands, or life, for Christ, shall have a hundred fold in this present world, and could he have brought his life and estate to a better market? If he loved the world and found sweetness in that, is there not more sweetness in Him that made the world?(5) To draw others into sin, aggravateth sin. Demas, by his evil example, brought an evil report on the gospel, and did tacitly and interpretatively say there is much more sweetness in the world than in Christ, and so drew others from the truth.(6) The greater the person that sins the greater is his sin. Theft in a judge is worse than in an inferior person; for Demas, a teacher of others, to teach apostasy, draws men into sin. Such cedars fall not alone, but crush the shrubs that be under them.
(T. Hall, B. D.)I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ACCORDING TO DEMAS. , assuming that Demas left Paul in order to go back to his friends, expressively describes his purpose by saying, "He chose to luxuriate at home." If that was so, he did only what most Christian people are doing now. He still believed in Jesus as the Saviour of sinners, and hoped to be accepted for His sake; he purposed to abstain from the things forbidden by the law; and, this done, he thought himself at liberty to seek and enjoy the full measure of worldly good which he was able to obtain. In other words, he wished to lead a Christian life, but with the least possible quantity of self-denial. He wished, in the selfish acceptation of the phrase, to make the best of both worlds. His Christian ideal was a negative one, and consisted in not breaking the gospel commandments, rather than in laboriously doing, or being, anything great or good. It may often happen — in our case it will generally happen — that the best service we can render to others and to Christ is to be done at home; yet it is possible, it is common, to remain at home, and not to render it, but simply to luxuriate there, our lives regulated by that love of this present world which Demas showed. Indeed, whatever the sphere may be in which we are best able to serve others and Christ — whether the home circle, or the wider arena of social life, or the haunts of business, or the Sabbath-school, or the sick, or the poor — are we not tempted to occupy it after the manner of Demas?
II. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ACCORDING TO PAUL. Not, how little can I do, but, how much, was the ruling principle with Paul. Not, what would be easiest for me, but, what most acceptable to Christ. Not a cold calculation in the interest of self, but a warm devotion to the welfare of all. Loyalty, gratitude, generous enthusiasm, are its features; and, surely, they are among the noblest qualities of human character. Cold and grudging selfishness marks the other conception. They hardly deserve to be called two forms of the Christian life, for only one has the Spirit of Christ at all. Yes, let us remember even the nobleness of Paul was but a reflection of the nobleness of Christ. It was at that source the flame of his soul was kindled: "The love of Christ constrained him."
III. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE BEGUN WITH PAUL AND ENDED WITH DEMAS. The Spirit which founded the Christian Church was the spirit of Paul; but, as soon as the days of its freshness and persecution were over, the spirit of Demas prevailed. And the history of individuals is apt to be similar.
(T. M. Herbert, M. A.)
I. DEMAS'S HISTORY AND DEMAS'S FALL. Men live after they are dead, I do not mean merely that they live in another world after they are dead, but that, in a sense, alter they are dead they live here — some in their good works, and others in their bad. Many a man would never have been heard of in this world at all but for his crimes. His crimes are the salt, wherewith his memory is salted; he lives in them. But for them he had passed a happy life, obscure, no doubt, but happy; and when he died had gone down to his grave unnoticed and unknown. Now that is not the case of Demas. The truth is, if this Second Epistle to Timothy had never been written, or if it had pleased God to have let this Second Epistle to Timothy perish, like some other writings of the apostles, perhaps you might have called this church after Demas; Demas might have had his name in the calendar of saints. This man fell from a height which few of us have reached or ever will reach, and all the more impressive, therefore, is the story of his fall. He was indeed a fallen star! The reverse of Paul, who fell a persecutor and rose an apostle, this man was an apostle, but is an apostate now; he was a professor, but he is a renegade now; he was a brave soldier of the cross, but he is a base deserter and traitor now, having deserted and abandoned all for which a man should live. What a fall was there! Scripture drops the curtain on Demas just where we see him here, like a dishonoured knight from whose heels the spurs he has won have been hacked — just where we see him as a soldier who, his facings plucked from his breast, is dismissed as a deserter. No other word in Scripture about Demas after that; the curtain drops, and he vanishes. But let tradition lift her curtain, and if she speaks the truth — and there is no reason to doubt her story — it happened that Demas, as I could have prophesied, or you or any one else — went from bad to worse, down and down, and lower still, from one depth of infamy to another, till in the last sight we get of Demas, there he is yonder, a priest in a heathen temple, offering sacrifices to dead stocks and stones! Unhappy, miserable man, whether he died, as he might have died, with a recollection of better days, stung with remorse, howling in despair, or whether he died defiant of Christ, like Julian the royal apostate, who, when vanquished by the Christian hosts, caught the sword from his mortal wound, and tossed it up to heaven, and cried, expiring in the effort, "The Nazarene has conquered!" Unhappy man, whether he died one way or the other!
II. WHAT MADE DEMAS FALL? what brought him down from his high position? Sailing once on a Highland loch where the crags went sheer down into the water, the boatman called my attention to a very remarkable fragment of rock. There it stood, tilted up on its narrow edge, threatening destruction to every one below it, and to all appearance ready, at the touch of an infant's finger, to leap with a sudden plunge into the depths below. What had tilted that enormous table into that upright position? No arms of brawny shepherds had set it there; no earthquake, rolling along the mountains and turning it upward, as earthquakes sometimes do, had turned it, nor had lightning, leaping from a cleft on the mountain's summit, struck it, split it, shivered it, or raised it on its narrow edge. The task belonged to a much quieter and less obtrusive agent than these. Borne on the wings of the tempest, or dropped by some passing bird, a seed fell into a crevice of the rock; sleeping the winter through, but finding there a shelter and a congenial soil, it sprang with the spring, fed by rains and by dews it grew, and put up its head and spread out its branches, and struck deep its roots, worming them deep into the crannies of the rock, and wrapping it round and round. That table, as they grew, and thickened, and strengthened, was slowly and silently raised and separated from its bed, and then one clay there came a storm roaring down the glen, and seizing the tree, whose leafy branches caught the wind like sails, turned that tree into a lever, and working upon the rock, raised it and set it where I saw it just on the edge of the dizzy crag, and there it stood, waiting till another storm should come to hurl it over into the mossy waters of that wild mountain lake. Whether that stone has fallen yet I do not know, but it will fall; and just as that shall fall, so fell Demas; so many have fallen, and so you and I, but for preserving grace, would fall too. Do not mistake the Bible. The Bible does not say a word against the world. It is not the world, it is not riches, it is not fame, it is not honour, it is not the innocent enjoyment of the world that the Bible condemns; it is the love of the world. Beware of that! Let it once enter, let it get lodgment in your heart, though it is simply a tiny seed, let it grow there, let it be fed by indulgence, let it strike its roots, let it worm them into the crevices and crannies of your heart, and it will do this so silently that you will never suspect it, and you will never know it, and others will never know it, till one day the storm shall come. What was it that brought on Demas's fall? Why was it that persecution destroyed Demas? Why, because persecution acted on Demas just as the storm did on the tree that got its seed into the rock. But that that tree had its seed and its roots round about that rock, the rock had defied all tempests, though they blew their worst; and Demas — persecution might have made him a beggar, persecution might have cast him into the deepest dungeon Rome had, persecution might have brought him to the scaffold, but if Demas had never loved the world, all that persecution had done would have been to destroy his wealth, to destroy his health, and to destroy his life, but it had never destroyed him; and on that day when Paul stood with his grey head before a mighty crowd coming to see him die, Demas had stood at his side; they bad stood together in the battle-field, they had stood together in the pulpit, they had stood together before Jews and heathens, and that day had they stood together again; one chain of love, as of iron, binding them still, they had fought together and they had fallen together, their heads had rolled on the same scaffold, one chariot had borne these brothers to the grave, and over their mangled remains, carried by devout men to burial, a weeping church had raised one monument, and I will tell you what she would have put on it; copying the words of David she might have said, "They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided." Alas! I have an epitaph for Demas, taken from the same touching lament, but consisting of other words — "How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!" Such is the epitaph of Demas! He was laid in an apostate's grave, and, not excepting a drunkard's, there is no grave the grass grows on so hopeless as the apostate's. Lessons:
1. "Put not your trust in princes," says David. "Put not your trust in preachers," says Demas. A blazing star quenched in darkness, oh! how does Demas teach them that stand high to walk humbly, and them that are high-placed not to be high-minded. It is well to carry a low sail, even when the wind blows strong.
2. Have you a pious father or mother, a pious wife or children, pious brothers or sisters — are you a servant in a pious family, or are your friends pious and your associations good? Ah! how does this teach you not to count too much on man! Why, there is Demas; what is your society to his? Demas lived in the holiest society out of heaven; Demas was the bosom friend and associate of one of the holiest, and I will say of one, in point of soul, of the noblest and loftiest men that ever lived — the Apostle Paul. There is no man in this house so little likely to be engrossed with the business, to be entangled with the cares, to be fascinated with the pleasures of this world, as was that man Demas; and yet he fell; he fell, and if he fell, who of us is to stand? Oh! how does his history sound in my ear like that old prophet's voice, "Howl, fir-tree, for the cedar is fallen!"
3. Ah, what a lesson is this for you and me, and all those who live under the best religious influences, for us to take care that we do not reckon upon them, but that we watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. The world's smiles are more to be dreaded than its frowns; its sordid sophistry, than its sharpest sword. Let the love of the world get into a man's heart, and there is no pleader, no counsel, no man that ever made the worse appear the better, so successful as that is; for the world has a tongue to convince the man who has the love of it, that virtue is vice, and vice is virtue.
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
(J. Leifchild, D. D.)
Having loved this present world
(G. Fisk, LL. B.)
To set thine heart on what beasts set their feet?
'Tis no hyperbole, if you be told,
You delve for dross with mattocks made of gold.
Affections are too costly to bestow
Upon the fair-faced nothings here below:
The eagle scorns to fall down from on high,
The proverb saith, to pounce a silly fly;
And can a Christian leave the face of God
T' embrace the earth, and dost upon a clod!
(W. L. Watkinson.)
(J. Leifchild, D. D.)
Crescens to Galatia1. Good men will be doing good wherever they are. Paul was now a prisoner, yet he preached constantly in prison, and there converted Onesimus (Philemon 1:9).
2. Though some may forsake us and the truth, yet God hath others that are faithful. What if Demas be gone, yet Crescens, Titus, Timothy, Mark, and Luke abide constant; no storms nor tempests can beat them off; if Saul oppose David, yet Jonathan will stick to him.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
Only Luke is with meI. THE INDUCEMENTS TO REMAIN WITH ST. PAUL.
1. There was the power of friendship. From the earlier references to Demas, we may conclude that he had been associated with the apostle in companionship in trial and labour. Intimacy and affection were motives to stay with him.
2. There was the sense of chivalry. However Demas might be tempted to go, a noble spirit would have said, Not now, when it is a time of comparative loneliness, need, and danger.
3. Interest in the faith. From his former relationship with St. Paul we must assume knowledge and admiration for the faith. He had seen Christianity, accepted it, and had been privileged to witness its power in the personal piety and devotedness of St. Paul.
II. THE TEMPTATIONS TO GO.
1. The world's temptation of Demas was probably not through her seductive glitter of pleasure and pomp, but through her frowns. The apostle was under a cloud. Few seem willing to take him by the hand. Notice how joyously he recognises the courageous kindness of Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16, 17).
2. Perhaps we may hazard a conjecture respecting the character of Demas. May he not have been one of those whose religious life is just strong enough, or rather weak enough, to live in a religious atmosphere, but utterly unable to live when unsupported by Christian society?
3. The way in which such a character would desert. Not openly, but by degrees. Excuses to omit dangerous duties, and even at the last perhaps only leave St. Paul on some plausible pretext to go to Thessalonica. The old apostle saw through it: "Having loved this present world."
III. THE CONTRASTED CONDUCT OF ST. LUKE.
1. While Demas at Thessalonica, St. Luke at Rome. His helpfulness to St. Paul. The knowledge of the physician, with its frequently induced sympathetic power and insight. The spiritual refreshment of a brotherly heart. Demas lives the life of him who seeks to save life, but loses it in all its nobility and opportunities of doing kindness. Luke is ready to lose life, but saves its true vitality.
2. For the retrospect of Christendom tells us that St. Luke in his devotedness has saved his life, while Demas has lost it. The latter is a beacon-warning; the former a guiding light, a name in the Church — loved where Christ is loved, honoured where the apostle is honoured, for constancy, kindliness, and intrepid faith.Learn therefore that —
1. Chivalry is not strong enough against the world-spirit.
2. A religion which is only dependent on the personal influence of others will prove faulty in the time of trial.
3. Thus only the inner strength supplied by Christ can keep us strong; not Paul, not Apollos, not the wisdom of men, but Christ. For the difference between St. Luke and Demas was not in outward circumstances. They were equally tried. It is Christ in us which is the hope of glory, a glory the earnest of which is seen in the scorn of earth and the triumph of faith over her frown or her smile.
(W. B. Carpenter, M. A.)Acts 16. to 28, we learn that he accompanied St. Paul in many of his labours and journeyings, and was with him at Rome daring his two years' imprisonment. We are wholly without authentic information as to the after life of St. Luke. Various spheres of labour are assigned to him by various writers, and much obscurity rests on the time, place, and manner of his death. The most ancient authors, however, say nothing of his martyrdom; and this would seem to show that he died a natural death; though others, indeed, allege that he went out of life stretched on an olive tree. But whilst so little material is furnished by the biographers of St. Luke, we are in possession of his writings, and by these "he, being dead, yet speaketh." There has never been debate in the Church that the Gospel which bears his name, and the Acts of the Apostles, were written by St. Luke. These were his legacies to all after ages, and for these must he be held in honour so long as there is any love for the gospel. And with these writings in our hands, who that has any sense of the worth of revelation will hesitate to describe St. Luke as "a brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches"? Or who, like St. Paul, if he had no other companion, would not feel that, in having this evangelist, he had books on which to draw that he could never exhaust, and which would continually furnish him with spiritual information, so that he could never be in loneliness, never at a loss for guidance and instruction, even though he should have to say with the apostle in our text — "Only Luke is with me." And what we venture to assert is, that the history which he has produced outweighs, in value to ourselves, either of the other three which the New Testament contains. We venture to affirm that, if only one Gospel is to be preserved, that that Gospel should be the Gospel according to St. Luke. The debate must lie between the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew; for neither in the Gospel of St. Mark, nor in that of St. John is any account given of the parentage and birth of Jesus Christ; so that, with no other document in our hands, we should be uninformed upon facts which lay at the very root and foundation of Christianity. We should have no proof of the fulfilment of prophecies declaratory that Christ should be born of a virgin, without taint of original sin; and we could therefore make no way in building up the fabric of our most holy faith. You will admit, then, that if only one Gospel be retained, it must be that of St. Matthew or St. Luke, inasmuch as these contain what is wanting in the others, the account of Christ's miraculous nativity, and this account is indispensable to our knowledge of redemption; but if we are to choose between the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, the far fuller manner in which St. Luke gives the circumstances of the birth of our Saviour might of itself determine upon which to decide for the history. And when you add to this that St. Luke is the evangelist who has preserved for us the parables and incidents most adapted to our case, and most comforting to our feelings, and that from his writings we draw a prayer which is the very epitome of petitions, "God be merciful to me, a sinner"; that it is he who draws for us that most affecting of pictures, the picture of the father's rushing to meet the prodigal son whilst yet a great way off, folding him in his arms, and giving him his embrace; that in the pages, moreover, of this evangelist it is that we behold the good Samaritan pouring oil and wine into the wounds of the sufferers; that we are warned by the sudden summons to the rich fool, who, within a hair's breadth of death, talked of building larger barns; by the torments of Dives, who exchanged the luxuries of a palace for the plagues of hell; that we are comforted by Christ's gracious words to the thief on the cross; — ay, if it be thus true that we turn to the Gospel of St. Luke for whatever is most exquisitely tender, most persuasive, most encouraging, most startling in the registered actions and sayings of the Saviour, then it is not to be doubted that our chief debt of gratitude is due to this evangelist; that if we had lost all the others — Cresceus unto Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia, Matthew, Mark, and John having departed from this present world — it might still be with the tone of those who felt they had kept the one from whom most might be learned, that we took up the language of our text and exclaimed with St. Paul, "Only Luke is with me." We now turn to look at the Acts of the Apostles, a work which stands quite by itself, and whose worth, therefore, cannot be measured by comparing it with others. If we had not this book we should have no inspired record whatever of the actions and sayings of the first preachers of Christianity, and consequently its value must be estimated by the injury which would be occasioned by the total want of such a record. The removal of the Acts from the New Testament would be altogether a different thing from the removal of one of the Gospels; in the latter case the deficiency would be at least partially supplied by the remaining writings, whereas in the former there would be left no document to which we could refer. The book of the Acts is to the Holy Spirit what the Gospels are to the Saviour — a record of His entering on His office, and fulfilling His great work in the scheme of human redemption. And can we dispense with one record any more than with the other? Is it not indispensable to the completeness of the evidences of Christianity — the showing how each Person in the ever-blessed Trinity has interposed on our behalf — that we should be able to point to apostles and to apostolic men, receiving supernatural gifts, and going forth with a more than human strength to a warfare with principalities and powers? It is one thing to prove a work valuable, and another to show that its loss would be fatal. It is this that we endeavour to do, by exhibiting the Acts as the Gospel of the Holy Ghost, and as the record of transactions which involve the interest and the permanence of the whole Gentile Church. And when we have shown you that without this book you would be left ignorant of the coming of the Comforter; that you would know nothing of the manifestations by which the seal of Divinity was finally set on Christianity — yea, be unacquainted with redemption as the joint work of the three Persons in the Godhead; and when we have further shown you that, take away this book, and you take away all the register of God's ordering the removal of the middle wall of partition, so that the Gentiles might be received without submitting themselves to the institutions of Moses, and we think we have shown enough to convince you that you owe St. Luke, at least, as much for his Acts of the Apostles as for his Gospel; and, therefore, we again say — Crescens might have departed to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, and you might be left alone in a prison, almost without associates, almost without books; but could you be lonely? could you be forced to speak as if deprived of high companionship and intercourse with those in whom a Christian has the deepest interest, and access to the best stores of comfort and of knowledge, if you could say of yourself, as St. Paul says in our text — "Only Luke is with me"?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(R. S. Barrett.)
(W. G. Abbott, M. A.)
(H. A. Nelson, D. D.)Proverbs 17:17). Though Paul be a prisoner and ready to be martyred, yet Luke keeps with him still; though all forsake him, yet he will stick to him. Pot-friendship will vanish, especially in adversity. Job (Job 6:15) complains of his friends that they had deceived him like a brook; they were not like a river which is fed by a spring and hath a perennity of flowing, but like a brook which runs in moist times when there is least need of it, but in a drought it fails; like swallows which fly about us in summer, but in winter they leave us and hide themselves in hollow trees or the like. Such vermin abound which run to full barns, but outrun them when empty. Most worship the rising, few the setting sun.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
Take Mark, and bring him with theeActs 15:36-39): —
I. THE SHARP QUARREL BETWEEN PAUL AND BARNABAS. They were both good men, both men of cultivated spirit and of fine Christian character, and yet they got into a violent passion about a matter that one would think might have been easily arranged if discussed forbearingly and wisely. The only wise thing about the whole matter was the separation. It is far better for Christian people who cannot work comfortably together to separate than to keep up an endless bickering, or a dull, sulky anger which only reveals the smouldering fire that sooner or later is sure to burst forth.
1. The most godly men are still liable to sharp and sudden falls.
2. Those who are engaged in the same work may have antagonistic views on matters of prudence.
II. THE TWO DIFFERENT STAGES OF MARK'S LIFE. Sometimes a poor-looking material works out better than we expected. The unpromising youth often surprises us by very superior development in after years. Soldiers who have quailed before the first fire of their first battle have distinguished themselves as brave men in after years. There is really nothing more common than this contradiction of all early promises, both for good and bad, which daily life brings to us. Life and character have so many sharp turnings that you can never calculate what direction they shall ultimately take. This was the case with John Mark. In the former of these passages he is brought before us as a young man. The opinion Paul had of him then was a very contemptible one. He had set his hand to the plough, and looked back. Seventeen years after Paul is in prison at Rome, and writes thence this letter to Timothy. And in it comes this honourable and affectionate mention of the very man who seventeen years before he had held at so cheap a rate, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry." A bright midday to a very unpromising morning! We are constrained to suspect, after all, that, though Paul had prudence and justice on his side, on that former occasion, yet Barnabas had the finer intuition when he kept his faith in his nephew, notwithstanding his disgraceful delinquency. After-events certainly proved that the unpromising youth had in him the making of a strong man. How much of Mark's after strength was due, on the one hand, to the paternal faith and protection of Barnabas, and, on the other hand, to the tonic administered to him by Paul's contemptuous refusal, we cannot say. Probably both had a good effect. The scornful glance with which a brave man looks on a delinquent, by inflaming his self-respect, may, while it mortifies his soul, impel him to bolder things. And, on the other hand, to feel that though we have miserably failed, there is one heart that still believes in our capacity, and one hand that never loses its grasp of ours, is heaven's good angel to our life. Many a coward life. has been made brave by that ministering angel. Many a one-time sinner has been made a saint by the faithfulness with which one hand has continued to hold his in confident love, and not seldom that hand has been the soft hand of a brave and trusting woman. Stick to the coward a little longer, and you may, by God's grace, make a brave man of him yet! Stick to the sinner a little longer, and you may yet write his name in the roll of the saints!
(E. H. Higgins.)Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37-39), which made Paul that he would not suffer him to visit the brethren. Superiors in gifts and grace may sometimes have need of the help of inferiors. A Paul may send for u Mark to help him.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
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