2 Timothy 1:13
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
I. LET US CONSIDER THE OBJECT OF TENACIOUS PRESERVATION: "the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me." What is this form of sound words?
1. I should answer explicitly, and without hesitation, in the first place, the whole of God's inspired truth, contained in the writing of the Old and the New Testament. In the Scriptures are contained all things necessary to be known and practised; and, therefore, this Book must be held with a firm and a tenacious grasp.
2. By "the form of sound words," in the next place, it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that the apostle might intend a certain formulary, or system of Divine truth, which he might have given to Timothy, his "son in the faith," and a younger teacher in the Church.I say some formulary, or system of Divine truth, in which the great principles of the gospel might be condensed and epitomised. We have warrant in Scripture for such formularies, both in the Old Testament and in the New; and though, indeed, as composed by mere human minds, they are not the object of a Divine faith, any farther than they are found in strict coincidence with the Holy Scriptures; yet they are, nevertheless, profitable and desirable.
1. In the first place, it is of great advantage to have a concise, harmonious, connected view of the truth as it stands revealed in Holy Scripture.
2. In the next place, order is known to be a powerful assistant of the memory.
3. In the third place, it is well to have a summary of Christian truth, in order that our testimony among our fellow creatures may be clearly understood and explicitly declared.
4. And finally, that those who are enemies either to the truth or the practice of Christianity, may have that which can be lifted up as a standard against them, so that they cannot mutilate, corrupt, or destroy, "the truth as it is in Jesus." It cannot be doubted but that these systems and formularies of Divine truth, rightly exhibited, and sustained by Holy Scripture, have proved in every age a mighty bulwark to the faith of the Christian Church.
II. THE DUTY WHICH THE CHRISTIAN OWES TO THE OBJECT WHICH WE HAVE CONSIDERED: to hold it fast with a firm and with a determinate grasp. And this implies the following things —
1. An accurate acquaintance with the truth which they embody and exhibit. The understanding must be employed in ascertaining the sense and meaning of Holy Scripture, in comparing evidence, in deducing just conclusions from authentic premises, in tracing the harmony, the connection, and the bearing of one truth upon another, so that the various links of the chain may be held in their unbroken connection.
2. There must be a full persuasion of the truth.
3. Finally, there should be a conscientious determination to preserve the truth of the gospel at all hazards, and whatever consequences may possibly ensue with respect to ourselves, or our worldly interests.
III. THE MANNER AND THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE TENACITY OF THE TRUTH IS TO BE ATTEMPTED. It is added, "in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." For there is always some danger lest human passion and infirmity should mix themselves even with our conscientious regard to the truth of God. We have to guard against the wrath of the angry polemic; the bitterness of the prejudiced bigot; visionary and fanatic wildness of the enthusiast.
1. First, we are to hold fast the truth in faith, because faith is the only ground upon which we receive and retain the truth. We do not receive it by tradition from our fellow-men; we do not receive it upon the authority or credit of any merely human teacher, however much that teacher may be valued by us; but we receive it on the ground of God's authority. He has revealed it. We find it in His Book; a book of which the evidences fully substantiate the Divine original. Then we have a witness which is more valuable, in point of fact, than ten thousand theories, or ten thousand merely speculative arguments. This is the inward evidence which every real Christian derives from his own state of mind, his feeling, his character, his conduct; and by which he is able to demonstrate the truth of the blessed gospel. Then we are to maintain the truth in love — "love which is in Christ Jesus." I must show this determined and this courageous attachment to the truth, first, for the love of Jesus Christ, who came into the world both to reveal and to confirm it. I must maintain it from love to my own soul. Love to the souls of others should impel me to this courageous maintenance of the truth of the gospel. Could we conceive of a readier method of destroying the entire population of a city than by poisoning the aqueduct, or the fountain, from which they were supplied with their daily drink? What should we think of the guilt of that man who would knowingly drop poison into a living spring, that all who went to quench their thirst, instead of meeting with refreshment and health, should meet with their bane and their destruction? And I never can suppose that man to be under the influence of a candid, generous, and benevolent spirit, who sacrifices the truth, and fails to maintain that which is of infinite importance to God's honour, to the salvation of the soul, and to the existence of Christ's kingdom amongst men, based, as they are, upon the everlasting and immutable truth of the gospel.
(G. Clayton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.