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Covington, GA., June 15, 1860.

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

In this chapter Paul foretelleth that in the latter times there will be a great departure from the faith, which has had its fulfillment, and is being fulfilled in our day, and which proves conclusively that he spake by the Spirit of inspiration. And he also gave direction to Timothy relative to his course in the church of the living God, what he should teach, and how he should conduct, and that he should not be neglectful of the gift which was in him as a minister of Christ, and that he should mediate upon these things, and give himself wholly to the work the Lord had called him to, and that his profiting might appear to all. Paul was not a self-styled “Doctor of Divinity,” but an Apostle of Christ, and one of the twelve Judges of Israel, and was qualified to teach and instruct Timothy, who was but a youth, yet one of the Lord’s minister’s, and had received his tuition in the school of Christ, or heavenly school, where Jesus presides as the only Reverend Doctor of Divinity the church of God has ever had, or that she ever will need. And all the gifts the church has, or ever will have, the Lord Jesus has given, for when he ascended on high he gave gifts unto men, and Paul speaks of those gifts, and the purpose for which they were given. See Eph. 4:8-16. As much as we are in favor of human learning, when we come to speak of the Spirit’s teaching, and of spiritual gifts, we can never advocate the necessity of instituting Colleges and Seminaries for the instruction and qualification of pious young men for the ministry, for it is unscriptural and uncalled for, and a reflection upon the Wisdom of the Great Master Builder of the House of Assemblies, and Teacher of his people. When a man is called of God to preach, and to give himself wholly to the work, he does not go to the schools of men to be educated and to be qualified, but he enters the school of Christ and there receives his diploma, and graduates in gospel order, as all the prophets, apostles and ministers of Christ have ever done. What Paul said to Timothy in the verses preceding our text are applicable to the disciples of Jesus who are called to minister in word and doctrine, and should be strictly observed by them.

Take heed unto thyself. This is spoken relative to his practical course in the ministry. A minister of Christ is exposed to the shafts of the enemy from every quarter, and therefore must be clothed with the panoply of heaven, or armor of God. And when thus clothed he is invincible to all the fiery darts of the wicked. But why take heed unto himself? We answer, the command of the Great Head of the church, through the inspired apostle is, follow Jesus. And to follow Jesus is to deny self, old wicked self. We do not mean by this that the physical man is to deprive himself of the necessaries and comforts of life, O no. But to put off the old man with his deeds is the command, and to put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness, &c. Timothy was a child of God experimentally, but yet was possessed of a fallen, unsanctified disposition like as we have. When a man is exposed to any danger he should take heed to his course and be careful how he walks. So in relation to Timothy, and every minister of Christ. In his private walk in his family and among men, he should control his own disposition, and live according to his profession. In appearance a man may be “a saint abroad, and a devil at home.” A man may preach, seemingly, like an angel, and yet pursue a reckless, imprudent course, acting out an ungovernable disposition. He may be drunk with passion, or something else, as drunkenness does not consist always in the improper use of intoxicating liquors. Any species of vice and immortality is condemned by the law of Christ, and hence to be a professed minister of Christ, and be into some, or all the practices of ungodly men is a disgrace to the very name of the ministry. To take heed, is to be careful and cautious in one’s practical course of life, conduct, conversation, and deportment among men, and in the Church of Christ. If this had not been an important consideration Paul would not have enjoined it upon Timothy.

And unto the doctrine. This is another important consideration. He was, not only to take heed unto himself, but also unto the doctrine. The doctrine of Christ is the foundation principles of the experience, faith and practice of the church of the living God. It is called sound doctrine. It came from heaven, and is set or fixed deep in the experience of the saints. Without it all of the notions of men on religious subjects are not worth a straw, or in other words, are of no account. The principles which compose the doctrine of Christ are taught by the revelation and teaching of the Holy Spirit. They are not taught as a science in the schools of men, nor by human erudition, as many vainly suppose. These principles, such as the accountable, and justly condemned state of sinners as transgressors of God’s law, effectual calling by grace, free justification by the blood and righteousness of Christ, election, predestination, or God’s determinate purpose of love and mercy in his beloved Son, and also of his wrath and vengeance, and other kindred principles we could mention, altogether embody the doctrine which Timothy was directed to take heed unto. Notwithstanding it is sound doctrine, and reveals the only way of life and salvation from the depths of darkness and despair, yet men will not endure it; yea, thousands who profess to be the followers of Jesus, ignore it entirely. But the doctrine in invaluable, and must be contended for and preached. It will never do to yield any point, or principle of doctrine to please men, or to obtain the good-will of our fellow creatures, unless the truth pleases them. Therefore as it was said to Timothy, so it will apply to the heralds of the cross in general, take heed unto the doctrine, faithfully preach it in the love of it, and remember its principles are God-honoring, and God-glorifying, but abasing to worms of the dust. This is why men in their fallen state are opposed to it. Furthermore, the saints, whose only hope of salvation is in Christ Jesus our Lord, are comforted, edified, instructed and fed, when Christ, embodying sound doctrine, is preached. They are profited thereby. They grow and thrive under it.

Continue in them. Yes, Timothy, and all of Christ’s ministers are not simply to take heed unto themselves and unto the doctrine, but to continue in them, or in other words, to pursue the same course all the time, without turning to the right or left under any circumstances whatever. It is the way of self-denial and bearing the cross of Christ, and yet it is the only way which affords any substantial peace and quietness of mind to the Lord’s ministers. Men who have entered the ministry for the sake of a living under the pretext of great solicitude for sinners, will very easily relinquish their profession for the loaves and fishes, if a fair opportunity for a more profitable business presents itself. But when any one of the heralds of the cross can settle down in ease and quietness at home, and not feel the responsibility of his calling, proves to our understanding, a state of alienation of mind which will soon destroy his resting place, and perish him out of the consumption. Not take his life in a natural sense, but reduce him to a state of distress, sorrow and woe, so that his life would be miserable to him, and his own clothes would abhor him. But a faithful minister learns by experience that a continuation, practically, in the way of obedience is most for his happiness and peace of mind, and for the glory of God. Therefore, to continue to take heed unto himself, and unto the doctrine is well pleasing to God.

For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. A question arises, how save himself by doing this? We will proceed to answer. It should be distinctly remembered that Timothy was already a subject of grace, for Paul says in his second epistle to him, {chap. 1, verse 9,} “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Timothy, therefore, was called, as well as Paul, to an experimental knowledge of this salvation, not upon the principle of works of obedience, but upon the principle of God’s purpose and grace. Salvation is deliverance, consequently Timothy was to deliver himself in doing as he was directed by Paul in our text. And it was upon the principle that God worked in him to will and to do, that he worked out his own salvation or deliverance. Not that he was to work out his final deliverance from sin, death, hell and the grave, as though, some part of the work of salvation depended upon himself after he was called by grace, but by doing what is expressed in the text, he practically, saved or delivered himself from the vile practices of the men of the world, who never made any pretensions to religion, or in reference to the unscriptural doctrines and practices of self-righteous professors, work-mongers and hypocrites. And not only so, but he also saved himself from reproaching and dishonoring the cause of Christ by an unworthy course of conduct, and also saved himself from giving any just occasion for the adversaries to speak reproachfully. Not that it was possible for him to escape persecution by doing this, for they that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; but he enjoyed the gracious smiles of his Redeemer, and the answer of a good conscience towards God, and the sweet assurance of his acceptance in the Beloved, and God was therein glorified.

Timothy was, not only to save himself, but also them that heard him in his practical course in the ministry. Many, very many, suppose that the inspired Apostle had reference to the eternal salvation of sinners, and that he, and the other Apostles were co-workers with God in this great salvation. As there is no such expression found in the scriptures as co-workers with God, or God & Company, working together in the salvation of sinners; all consistent O.S. Baptists, will not only reject the expression, but also the sentiment. The Scripture that is often referred to as supposed proof on this point is II Cor. 6:1. “We then {as} workers together {with him,} beseech {you} also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The words included in brackets were supplied by the translators, as all supplied words are printed in italics, signifying that they were not in the original language. Hence to wrest from the true meaning of the Scriptures, and make an erroneous application of them, is among the anti-christian practices of the age in which we live. The truth is, that Paul and the other Apostles, and all the ministers of Christ, were workers together, or laborers together in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. As Timothy was exhorted to pursue the same course, it will be necessary to observe that he was to save himself as above stated, and also to save them that heard him, which we will illustrate in the following manner. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, God poured out of his Spirit in a gracious manner, agreeable to the prophecy of Joel, and thousands were pricked in the heart, and cried out, “men and brethren what shall we do?” It was the Spirit that performed the work at the time Peter was preaching, which caused the word spoken by him, to have a powerful impression upon their minds. Peter then preached repentance and remission of sins to them, and testified and exhorted with many words, saying “save yourselves from this untoward generation.” A great number gladly received his word and were baptized, and continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers. Peter’s practical course, joined with his preaching and exhortation on that occasion, with the circumcised heart and ears of the multitude present, and their voluntary course in receiving the word and being baptized, saved or delivered them from that untoward generation. God is pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, not them which do not believe. This salvation, as we understand it, has sole reference to the growth, development and manifest perfection of the saints in their deliverance from their former course of folly and wickedness by renouncing the world with all its vanities, and now pursuing a holy and unblameable life in the house of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

When Stephen preached, being full of the Holy Ghost, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth, and run upon him with one accord and stoned him to death. Their heart and ears were uncircumcised, therefore it was vain to suppose they would hear and be saved. It is only those who have spiritual hearing, or in other words have a circumcised heart and ears, that are profited by a faithful ministry, and are saved by the practical course of those who minister in word and doctrine.

Many of the dear saints have learned by happy experience the truth of our text in the privilege of sitting under a sound and faithful ministry, whose practical course is according to the gospel of Christ.