2 Timothy 4:9-11
Do your diligence to come shortly to me:…
Now, whatever may have been the circumstances under which Demas first made profession of Christianity, it is very clear that that profession must have exposed him to hardship and danger, for he became a companion of St. Paul at the very time when that apostle was hunted down by persecution. It is not, therefore, to be supposed that, in embracing Christianity, Demas was conscious of acting with any insincerity. He must have considered himself a firm believer in Christ, and must have been so considered by those who had the best power of judging. Ah! it is in this that the case of Demas is full of melancholy warning. We do not find that he was scared by the perils which encompassed the profession of Christianity. It was love of the world which caused this promising disciple to make shipwreck of faith, and of a good conscience. He who could scorn danger or endure hardship could not withstand the blandishments of the world, which plied him with its pleasures. We have no security but in constant prayer, in constant war" and it should make you more diligent than ever in supplication, more vehement than ever in resistance, to hear St. Paul say of Demas — Demas who ministered to him in prison, Demas whom he called his fellow-labourer — that Demas had forsaken him, "having loved this present world." And now we would turn your thoughts from the progress which Demas must have made in Christianity to the advantages which he enjoyed. We wish you to observe him, not merely as forsaking St. Paul, but as forsaking him when that apostle was on the very eve of martyrdom. Who can question that there came to him, in the solitude of his prison, glorious visitations from the invisible world, that the consolations of God abounded towards him, and that, whilst the fetters were on the body, the spirit soared as with an eagle's wing, and gazed upon the inheritance that fadeth not away. Oh! to have been with him as he had to tell of the comforts and satisfactions thus vouchsafed, to have stood by him as the soul came back from its sublime expatiations, laden as it were with the riches of Paradise! Who could have doubted the truth of Christianity — who could have refused to adhere to its profession — who could have hesitated between its promises and any present advantage — with the prisoner Paul for his preacher, with the prisoner Paul for his evidence? Ah, be not too confident! It was the prisoner Paul whom Demas forsook. Forsook? Why, one would have thought the common feelings of humanity would have kept him constant! To desert the old man in his hour of trial — to leave him without a friend as the day of his martyrdom approached — who could be so ungenerous? Ah! pronounce not a hasty judgment. Demas did this — Demas who had for a long time been assiduous in ministering to the apostle — and Demas did this only because, like many — too many — amongst ourselves, he loved this present world. Learn ye, then, how weak are those extraordinary advantages when the heart is inclined to yield to the fascinations of the world — how these fascinations may be said to steal away the heart, so that he who is enslaved by them loses, to all appearance, the best sensibilities of his nature. And let no hearer henceforward think, that because he may have delight in hearkening to the pathetic or powerful speech of a favourite minister, he must be rooted in attachment to Christ and His religion. Let no minister henceforward think, that because he has gained an influence over men's minds, he must have gained a hold on their hearts. And in what mode may Christians hope to deliver themselves from love of the world? This is an important question. It is useless to show how fatal is the love, if we cannot show also how it may be subdued. There is no denying that the world addresses itself very strongly to our affections, and that the correspondence which subsists between its objects and our natural desires, gives to its temptations a force which can hardly be exaggerated; and we are sure that these temptations are not to be withstood, unless love of the world is dispossessed by love of something better than the world. You will not cease to love the world, you will not grow weaker in attachment to the world, through the influence of any proof, however elaborate, that the world is not worth loving. It is only by fixing the affections on things above, that they can be drawn from things below. There may be weariness, there may be dissatisfaction, there may be even disgust with the vanities of earth, but nevertheless these vanities will occupy the heart, unless displaced by the realities of heaven. You see, then, what you have to do. You have to meditate upon God and upon heaven, striving to acquire higher and higher thoughts of Divine majesty. There is not one of you who will become a Demas, if you keep this in mind. This is what you may call a recipe against apostasy. It is not a recipe composed upon abstract and speculative opinions, but drawn from the known workings and pleadings of the heart. The heart will attach itself to what it feels to be a greater good in preference to a lesser.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: