“The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit.”—2 Tim. 4:22.
In addressing you, my brother, on this interesting portion of Scripture, I shall simply offer a few remarks on the blessing desired, and consider its influence on the discharge of the Christian ministry.
I. Let us offer a few remarks on the blessing desired.—If we were addressing ourselves to persons who were strangers to experimental religion, we might despair of being understood on this part of the subject; and even among Christians it is more easily felt than accurately described. We know nothing of Divine influence but by its effects. We know we are created, but we know nothing of creative power. We know we are supported, but we can only feel ourselves upheld. We know Christ promised to be with his servants to the end of the world, and I hope we have felt the effects of it. We feel our wants hitherto supplied, our strength renewed, and our work in some measure succeeded; and we are taught to what to ascribe it.… But more particularly,—
1. The blessing here desired is something different from gifts.—God has favoured you with gifts; but so he did Judas. Many shine and figure away with these, with whose spirits the Lord Jesus Christ holds no communion. Gifts are the gold of the temple; but communion with Christ is that which sanctifieth the gold. Without this, gifts will be injurious both to you and to your people.
2. This blessing is more than grace itself, considered as inherent.—I need not tell you that our graces have no separate subsistence. We are the branches living on the Vine. Paul said, “I live”—(and surely he had a right to say so, if any man had!)—and yet he checks himself, and adds,—“yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
3. It is a blessing which you shall enjoy in common with your Christian brethren.—It is not peculiar to you as a minister, but common to all Christians. And is it the better (you may ask) for this? Yes, it is. The best blessings, are those common to Christians, Psal. 27:4; Phil. 3:8. The Romish priests have contrived to secure the cup exclusively to themselves: but it was not so from the beginning: “Drink ye all of it.” And not only the cup, but the thing signified, is common to all Christians. And the blessings which are common to Christians as such are of the greatest importance to us as ministers. If we Study, and pray, and preach merely as ministers, we shall make poor work of it; but if as Christians, we shall prosper.… We proceed,
II. To consider the influence of this blessing on the discharge of the Christian ministry.—Knowing that without him we could do nothing, our Lord has assured us, “Lo! I am with you alway, to the end of the world.” And now, by his strengthening us, we can do all things.… Observe,
1. It is this that will render the doctrine of Christ familiar to us, and our favourite theme.—The Spirit of prophecy is called the Spirit of Christ, because it testified of his sufferings, 1 Pet. 1:11. And if Christ be with our spirit, though only in an ordinary way, it will lead us to delight in the doctrine of Christ, Eph. 3:17, 18. When Christ dwells in the heart, see what follows! This is the unction by which we know all things. And this is the doctrine which God blesses to the building of his church.
2. It is that which gives a Divine energy to our preaching.—It imparts a much greater energy than the greatest eloquence, natural or artificial. And though it will not in itself convert sinners, yet God usually honours such preaching. And it is a means of conversion. The apostle “so spoke that a great multitude believed.” And where such preaching does not convert, it yet commends itself to the conscience. “They were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he (Stephen) spoke.” Apollos, who was “fervent in the Spirit,” by his preaching “mightily convinced the Jews.” The preaching of Paul was “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power.”
3. It is this that will render our visits profitable.—It is difficult to turn conversation into a savoury and useful channel. But if the Lord Jesus Christ be with our spirit, all difficulty will vanish. Without this every thing will be forced and constrained; and we shall feel especially at a loss in our directions to inquirers.
4. It is this that will sustain your heart under trials.—You are aware you must expect these. You will see things in your people towards God that will grieve you. This will enable you to reprove them in love. You will see things in them towards each other that are decidedly wrong. This spirit will cause you to be a peace-maker. You will experience painful things towards yourself: some will not receive your doctrine; some will misconstrue your conduct, and pervert your statements: but if the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, you will not sink under the heaviest trials. You may have to lament your want of success. But go on, and be of good cheer. If the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, though Israel be not gathered, you shall not go unrewarded.
Excerpt from: “The Influence of the Presence of Christ on a Minister” a sermon.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 504–505). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.