2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.…
1. It is lawful sometimes to speak of those gifts and graces which God hath given us, that we may comfort and quicken others by our example.
2. The sweetest songs of the saints have been towards their last ends. The sun shines sweetliest when it is setting, the wine of the spirit is strongest in the saints when they are drawing to an end. His motions are quickest when natural motions are slowest; as we see in Moses his swan-like song (Deuteronomy 31-33.), and David how sweetly doth he sing a little before he dies of God's mercies to himself, of the covenant of free grace which God had made with him, and His judgments on the sons of Belial (2 Samuel 22:1-8). Joshua dying, how sweetly doth he exhort the people to obedience by setting before them the mercies of God (Joshua 24.). All Christ's sayings are excellent, but none so sweet and comfortable as those which He delivered a little before His death. Wicked men when they die they set in a cloud, and like the going out of a candle they leave a stench behind them: as their bodies, so their names rot and stink when they are dead and gone. As wicked men grow worse and worse and their last days are their worst, so good men grow better and better, and their last days are their best; having but a little time to live in the world, they are willing to leave it with a good savour.
3. The sweet resent which a good conscience hath of a well-spent life is matter of singular comfort and rejoicing in death.
4. Every faithful Christian is a spiritual soldier.
(1) In war there is watching, soldiers must stand on their guard continually for fear of a surprisal to the loss of all.
(2) In warring there must be arming, another man may go unarmed, but he that is a soldier must be armed.
(3) He must have skill and knowledge how to manage his weapons, his hands must be taught to war and his fingers to fight.
(4) Courage and valour. Even Rabshakeh could say counsel and strength are for war (2 Kings 18:20). Policy and power are very requisite for a soldier.
(5) In respect of hardship a soldier must be a hardy man.
(6) In respect of obedience. A soldier is under the most absolute command of any man. He must obey and not dispute the commands of his commander to whom by oath he is bound to be faithful.
(7) In respect of order. In war there is much order. Soldiers must keep rank and file, they must abide in that place and keep on that ground on which their commander sets them.
(8) In respect of their unsettled abode. A soldier whilst he is in actual service hath no settled abode, but he is always either marching, charging, watching, fighting, lying in his tent for a night or two and is gone.
(9) A soldier must attend the wars, he must forsake house, land, wife, children and other lawful delights (for a time at least), and give up himself to his martial affairs; he cannot work and war, follow a trade and fight too; but he must wholly devote himself to his military employment that he may please his commander.
(10) In respect of unity, soldiers must be unanimous. United forces prevail much, but if soldiers be divided and mutiny they ruin themselves.
(11) Lastly, In respect of activity a soldier's life is a laborious life, they are cut out for action, they must never be idle. Now, the Lord will have us all to fight for these reasons:
1. For the greater manifestations of His own glory. He could deliver His people without fighting, but then the glory of His wisdom, power and goodness in their preservation and deliverance would not be so perspicuous to the world; nor His justice in downfall of His enemies be so apparent to all.
2. For the good of His people, hereby He exerciseth their graces and keeps them from rusting. Virtue decays if it have not some opposite to quicken it, and draw it out; hereby also He proves their valour and makes it more apparent to others. The skill of a pilot is not known till a storm, nor the valour of a soldier till the day of battle.
3. To make us long for our rest in heaven.
4. This spiritual fight is a good fight. His not warring after the flesh, but a spiritual, holy, honourable war (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4).It is a good fight in nine respects.
1. Of the author.
2. The man.
3. The matter.
4. The manner.
5. The end.
6. The armour.
7. The issue.
8. The fellow-soldiers.
9. The reward.It is a great comfort to be an old soldier of Christ. Men cashier old decrepit men out of their camps; but the older soldiers we are in Christ's Church the better and the more acceptable to Him.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.