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The Defection of Demas.
2 TIMOTHY iv. 10.
Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.
THIS is the concise history of a transaction which occurred nearly two thousand years ago. Had it been one of an ordinary kind, the effects of which were limited to the age in which it took place, the recalling of it now would not have been more useful then that of any other passing circumstance of that remote period. period. But, my brethren, the text informs us of a choice made by an individual of our race, which was decisive of his immortal destiny. Demas has long since gone the way of his fathers, and the world which he loved has been sought and possessed, and won and lost, by thousands of successive votaries. But the choice which Demas then made extended in its consequences beyond the world, and even at this day and for ever, that choice must continue to exert its influence upon his condition.
My brethren, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God; and if from that part of it which is now before us, we are permitted to learn something to guide our own choice, let us give the praise to that gracious Being who, in so many ways, calls us to his service; placing before us the imprudence of the foolish for our caution, not less than the prudence of the wise for our instruction and encouragement. Demas loved this present world. And for this love of the world he abandoned his Christian profession, and gave up the consolations of the Christian faith. He forsook the courageous Apostle Paul, and renounced the privations and self-denial which his religion required.
The Saviour whom he had undertaken to follow had said, "Love not the world ;" and still more explicitly, "Whosoever he be of you that "forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my
disciple." And because his service required that men should separate themselves from the spirit, the maxims, and the engrossing pursuits, of the world, to which they were accustomed to be devoted, he had cautioned the multitudes who followed him to examine themselves, and determine whether they could make the sacrifice. He advised them to use the prudence of one who, intending to build a tower, should sit down first, and count the cost, whether he had sufficient to finish it; lest, haply, after he had laid the foun
dation, and was not able to finish it, all that beheld him should begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to "finish." Such was the caution which had been given, and which doubtless had been understood by Demas; and with all the consequences of embracing Christianity honestly and undisguisedly laid before him, he resolved to make the experiment, and had professed himself a disciple of the Saviour. He joined the company of the faithful, and particularly seems to have associated with St. Paul; and like him to have hailed the members of the Christian Church as brethren with whom he had embarked in a common cause. For in the Epistle to the Colossians, St. Paul thus writes, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas,
greet you;" and again, in the Epistle to Philemon, “There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, "my fellow labourers." Besides these, there is no further mention of him, excepting in that passage which tells Timothy of his defection in the words of the text. "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world; and is departed unto Thessalonica." The period of this transaction, judging from the date of this Epistle, is that when St. Paul was brought before Nero the second time, "a prisoner suffering trou"ble unto bonds;" a period when he had reason to expect that the time of his departure was at
hand, and that he soon must finish his course by a violent death. It seems probable, therefore, and it is the opinion of the fathers who have written on the subject, that the personal danger to which Demas was exposed, and his unwillingness to risk his life in the cause of the Gospel, was the occasion of his renouncing the faith.
Even this last appalling alternative, however, which now presented itself to his view, and overcame his resolution, was one of which he was not unforewarned. The Saviour, forseeing the hazard at which his religion was to be propagated, and the resistance which his disciples must be called to encounter, had encouraged them by admonitions like these, to meet with firmness the shock of martyrdom-"Fear not them which kill the "body, and after that have nothing more that "they can do; but fear him who, after he hath "killed, hath power to cast both soul and body "into hell"-"Whosoever will save his life, shall "lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my "sake and the Gospel's, the same shall find it."
A "noble army" there was, whose faith was so strong, and whose hope of heaven so elevated, that they reckoned that the sufferings of this present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory that should be revealed; who were willing to go to prison and to death; who took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring sub
stance. Such were the apostles of our Lord, who triumphed in persecution, in reproach, and in martyrdom; not counting their lives dear to them so that they might finish their course with joy. Such too were many, in after times, who manfully endured the cross, that they might gain the crown. And when we have seen the ferocious beasts let loose by the command of Trajan upon the aged and unretracting Ignatius, and the bones of that resolute saint strewing the amphitheatre of Rome; when we have seen the reluctant flames kindling around the venerable form of the heaven-aspiring Polycarp, insensible to the sharpness of their pain; when we have witnessed the whole apparatus of torture exhausted upon the weak and torn body of Blandina, while her firm spirit remained unsubdued, and she persevered in her exulting exclamation, I am a Christian! I am a Christian! when we have witnessed these scenes, we may be the more readily excused, if we pass sentence severely upon the apostacy of Demas, whose faith and courage could not compare either with those of exhausted and enfeebled age, or with that more glorious example of female constancy, triumphing over all its native tenderness, and its native fears.
But, my brethren, if these indignant feelings are such as naturally arise in our bosoms, on considering the defection and the treachery of Demas, the motive which influenced his conduct