1 Timothy 1:11
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
It seems, as a revelation, so to eclipse every other, that earth with all its wonders grows dim by its side, and the firmament with all its hosts is no longer effulgent with Deity. And this is, we think, what St. Paul in our text designs to assert of the gospel. He speaks as though the carrying that gospel to a land were the furnishing such a revelation of God as must necessarily, even if it did not overcome the unbelief in man, redound immeasurably to the glory of its Author. He will not allow that it could at all depend on the reception which the gospel might meet, whether or not God would be glorified by its publication. Why should it? Suppose that it were to please the Almighty to give some new and striking exhibition of His existence and His majesty to a people that had been indifferent to those previously and uniformly furnished; suppose that on a sudden the vault of heaven were to be spangled with fresh characters, the handwriting of the everliving God, and far outshining in their burning beauty the already magnificent tracery of a thousand constellations; would not God have splendidly shown forth His being and His power — would He not have given such demonstrations of His greatness as must vastly contribute to His own glory, even if the people for whose sake the overspread canopy had been thus gorgeously decked, were to close their eyes against the glittering evidence, or to hearken to infidel philosophers, who should resolve into natural causes, or explain by their boastful astronomy, the mighty phenomenon which announced the immediate agency of the Creator? God is sublimely independent of man; and if He have made a discovery of Himself — His nature — His perfections — He can contemplate that discovery with ineffable complacency, however it may be regarded by His creatures. He does not wait their admiration in order to be assured of its beauty; He does not require their approval, to be confirmed in His delight. We read, that when God rested from the work of this creation, He "saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." He surveyed His own work with unspeakable pleasure; He saw and He knew it to be glorious; and if no anthem of lofty gratulation had ascended to His throne from intelligent creatures, He would have reposed, in majestic contentment, on those vast performances, and have felt Himself so praised in His deeds, that neither angels nor men could break the chorus. And why should not we hold the same in regard of the gospel? Why, if this gospel be an incomparably more brilliant and comprehensible revelation of Himself than could have been made by His coming forth from His inaccessible solitude with a fresh retinue of suns and systems — why should not God regard its publication with ineffable complacency, whether men hear, or whether they forbear? Are we to hold it to be in the power of such creatures as ourselves to prevent, by our infidelity, the accruing of any glory to God, from that into which He may be said to have gathered Himself — which is nothing less than a focus, in which all the Divine attributes meet, or from which they diverge, to irradiate the universe? Oh I we are not thus mighty in evil. We may shut our eyes to a manifestation of God, but this is the utmost that we have in our power. We cannot obscure that manifestation; we cannot despoil it of one atom of its beauty; we cannot make it a jot less worthy or expressive of Godhead. And therefore may it well be supposed, that God would regard the ambassadors of His Son — those who with the cross in their hand hastened to publish to the ignorant the tidings of redemption — as more really and more emphatically the revealers of Himself than all those worlds, gorgeously apparelled, with which His creative skill had peopled infinite space. We may well understand, that as these apostles went from shore to shore, making proclamation, wherever they stood, of the mystery of "God made manifest in the flesh," they would be viewed by Him whose commission they bore as finer witnesses to the stupendous, and the awful, and the majestic, and the beautiful properties of His nature, than stars as they marched in their brightness, or angels as they moved in their purity. Who, then, can be surprised at the lofty tone which has been assumed by St. Paul, when speaking of the gospel committed to his trust? But now let us go on to speak of the two separate cases, in order to show you, with greater precision, how this character of the gospel holds good in regard equally with those who are saved and of those who are lost. Is the gospel, indeed, ever detrimental to the hearer? and if detrimental, can it still be styled "glorious"? Yes, the gospel may prove injurious to the hearer, but it cannot prove otherwise than glorious to its Author. You are not to think that the gospel can be a neutral thing, operating neither for good nor for evil. There is a self-propagating power in all kinds of evil; and every resistance to God's Spirit, operating through the instrumentality of the Word, makes resistance easier, and facilitates for the future the hearing without obeying. So that preaching, where it produces no salutary effect, unavoidably hardens the hearer. But if it be admitted that in various ways men may be actually injured by the gospel, making it the occasion of their own aggravated condemnation, what have we to say to such a result being in any sense or degree glorious to God? But we are to blame in confining our thoughts to the ends in which man has an immediate concern, in place of extending them to those in which God Himself may be personally interested. We forget that God has to make provision for the thorough vindication of all His attributes, when He shall bring the human race into judgment, and allot to the several individuals a portion for eternity. We forget that in all His dealings it must be His own honour to which He has the closest respect, and that this honour may require the appointment and continuance of means of grace, even where those means, in place of effecting conversion, are sure to do nothing but increase condemnation. For the great point, so far as we can judge, which will have to be made out in respect of every man who perishes hereafter, is the inexcusableness of that man — his being nothing less than his own wilful destroyer; and the making out this, in regard of those condemned for neglecting the salvation provided by Christ, will require that it be abundantly proved that this salvation was offered, yea, pressed on their acceptance. Think ye that the minister of Christ has nothing to do but to confirm the righteous in their faith, and rouse the careless to repentance? Indeed it is at these that he is avowedly labouring, but in acting upon man he is acting for God. He may seem to you to labour in vain, just because those to whom he speaks forsake not their iniquities; but it is not in vain. He preaches for the day of judgment; he preaches as an evidence of God's forbearance, as a witness against the impenitent — an evidence and a witness which shall be called forth and displayed when the trumpet hath sounded, and the Judge is on His throne. And St. Paul knew, and felt this. He knew, and he felt, that when He preached Christ to a people, he was making that people without excuse if they persisted in iniquity, and therefore providing that God should be "glorious " in dealing with them in vengeance.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.