READING Paul's words in 2 Tim. iv. 13, "The cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest bringwith thee> and the books, but especially the parchments," some have asked, Did the Holy Ghost dictate these words to His servant 1 Our reply is, Beyond all doubt it was the Holy Spirit, and not merely Paul, that put these common words into an inspired epistle; for no man of himself would have imagined that a circumstance apparently so trivial should have formed a clause in a letter written under the dictation of the Holy Ghost. And when we calmly sit down to consider it, we soon see that there are many lessons taught us. See here,
I. God's Sympathy With The Privations Of His People. He loved Paul; (Gal. ii. 20,) and this being the case, not one concern of his but is interesting to God. There is not a hair of Paul's head but is numbered; not a step but is ordered; not a wandering but is noted down; not a tear but is in His book. And so, he bids him tell Timothy about the "the Cloak" left at the house of Carpus, in Troas. It concerns Paul's comfort; therefore (says the Holy Spirit,) write about it, and let
Jh. Ttwct^ know that our God. ithe Holy Spirit a3 well J8 Jesus.) is M loving mil so ^rea£ Job- nrri. 5,) that He I**" interest TTTmanif in the tninniesi; :«T!ifre of TTi^ aeople. If zhsy be shivering in. the cold, He thinlra on sneir nTwrnnmrmhia state, miT sends relief. There is no need of i TiiTm-Iw; He semis relief in the ordinary way by TwmfmTmir some frwmtf that a cloak is needed. He who took notice of the "vesture and garments" (Paa. xsiL IS.) of tie Head, is the same who here Kikes notice of tie -* ffTnafr * of one of the members.
IL God's novs To sauna is Eidkpesdest Op ExTwitth-. i-mrrrgsTxxrKs. Here is a beloved saint, a man of Gad honoured and gifted above most, one whom God once wmg-Tit up for a season. (like Moses on the mount) to the third heavens; and yet this man has no wealth, no ample resources at command. Nay, he is really poor; he cannot boy a cloak in Eome, his funds are so low; he must wait till he gete the one he left at Troas. See how the Lord may be intensely loving those who are in poverty and discomfort, and who are friendless and destitute. He may see it best to leave His children in want of all earthly things; but He will not love them the less on that account. "Know ye not that God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to those that love Him?" (Jas. ii . 5.) Here is one before ns in want of a cloak to cover his shivering body, who nevertheless shall appear with Christ clothed with His house from heaven.
IIL An Example Of Patience. The winter was now
near, (v. 21); the snow would soon be covering Soracte and other hills round Eome. He had no friends at hand to come forward on his behalf; only Luke was with him, a brother as destitute of means as himself. Perhaps, too, he wished to act on the principle "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and was unwilling to apply to any one for help. He was in the Mamertine prison of Eome, solitary for the most part, and tried by the sad thought that his Christian friends in the city were acting, for the time, the part of the disciples at the cross, forsaking and fleeing from one in peril . It seems too, his "books" had been forgotten along with his cloak, as if by this forgetfulness, the Lord wished to add to the trials of His servant, and to teach us that, great Apostle as Paul was, he was yet after all as liable to infirmities as any of us. Under all this, nevertheless, Paul is happy, patient, content; nay, looking upward, his face glows with delight, and he exclaims: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing!" (v. 8.) IV. The Secret Op Peace And Joy. If Paul is happy, if Paul can sing for joy, it is not because he has external advantages and comforts. For, see he is in a gloomy prison; Eoman guards pace in front of his cell; chains are on his hands; and he has no other than prison-fare; he cannot even keep himself warm, for his one cloak has been forgotten. What is it then that makes him so joyful 1 What is the secret of his
peace and contentment 1 He tells it in this same letter (ch. L 12). "I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day." His eye and heart were on Christ's Cross, the ground of acceptance, and on Christ's Crown as his reward. He found God reconciled to him a sinner not because of personal merit, or attainment, or services, or past privileges, or prayers, but simply because of the Lord Jesus, "Whom (said he) I Have Believed." He trusted that same Jesus whom he believed to keep for him all he had committed to Him till the great day of his return in glory, the day when he was to receive his crown, (iv. 8.) 0 ye poor, have you less in your home than Paul had in his prison? Yet you see, wants did not hinder his rapturous delight in Him whom his soul had found to be bid treasure. Stand, if it must be so, on the bare floor and within empty walls; Paul did the same, and yet was as happy as when he came down from the third heavens. It was all because his soul had found the Eighteous One as all his salvation! This was the secret of all his peace and joy—Christ believed in, for present acceptance; Christ expected, for future glory. And fail not to notice the emphasis placed on "Eighteousness" and "Eighteous" (iv. 8); for these terms tell how solid was the foundation of his hopes. The Judge, the righteous Judge, the Judge who dispenses crowns of righteousness only, will on that day be able to assign such a crown on Paul, "the chief of sinners;" because Paul has believed on Him who is the Eighteous One, and so has become one with Him.
V. A Lesson As To The Use Of Means. "When now, last of all, we advert to the "books And Parchments," we may find some further instruction. We see how even an inspired apostle, who had been in a third heaven, thought himself not to have attained all that he could learn here. He did not throw aside the help of other men's labours; he wished to have "Books" beside him to study. I scarcely think that by these were meant "The Scriptures ;" for I do not think Paul would fail to keep these beside him. True, he might by an oversight leave his Bible behind him, at Troas, as well as his cloak; but this is not very probable. At any rate, see how this man of God goes on reading and studying the things of God, till the day of his death. Here is humility; and here is direction to us as to the course we must take if we would grow in grace to the end. "We must not forget our "Books," minister and people must be as Paul, "meditating on the law of God day and night," and so be as "a tree planted by rivers of water, whose leaf never withers." (Psalm i. 3.)
As to the "Parchments." They may have been documents by which he wished to prove his Boman citizenship, though others suppose they were documents regarding his personal effects, which he wished to arrange before his death: or they may have been simply some valuable writings. The lesson for us is, that saints must go on using common means, so long