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The Chapter opens with a Continuation of Exhortations. The Apostle blessedly speaks of the Doctrine of Regeneration. He closeth the Epistle with Directions, and his Apostolical Benediction.
(1) ¶ Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, (2) To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. (3) For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
We cannot sufficiently admire, the very happy method the Apostle adopted, to conciliate the minds of the people to the observance of those civil obligations he here recommended, in showing, in his own instance, as well as in all others, how unavoidably disposed a state of unrenewed nature is, to everything that is evil. What an humble representation Paul hath here made of himself, and all mankind, considered only in the state of original corruption. Reader! it is always blessed, to have it in remembrance. Nothing, under the teachings of God the Spirit, can be more profitable. It tends to lower all pharisaical pride, which might creep into the heart. It tends, through grace, to keep the soul humble in the dust before God. It keeps open a stream of true godly sorrow, in the consciousness of our first nothingness, and continued undeservings. And, what is preferable to all, it doth endear the Person, and work, and relations, and offices of Christ, to the soul; and thereby sweetly enforceth our need of Jesus, and our everlasting dependence upon him, and his blood and righteousness, more and more. Oh! thou dear Lord! how very precious, yea, increasingly precious, art thou to my soul, when I look back, and contemplate the awful state of that foolish, disobedient, unrenewed nature, in which I was born; the many years I continued in it, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating; and the remains of indwelling corruption, even to this hour, which marks the body of sin, I carry about with me! Oh! the blessedness of knowing it; and the distinguishing mercy of so knowing it, as to loath myself for my own deformity, that I may be looking only to Jesus for holiness and salvation.
(4) But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (8) This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
I beg the Reader to make a full pause over the wonderful relation given of the divine mercy, in the sovereign act of grace, here ascribed to the personal agency of God the Holy Ghost. And I beg of him to ponder it yet more, as being the first act which is wrought openly upon the child of God in a life of grace, which calls him forth into a spiritual apprehension of things, to know his election, and adoption character; his being in Christ, and his interest from Christ, to all the privileges of a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom. Before this act of regeneration is wrought, though chosen in Christ and being one with Christ, in an everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things and sure; the child of God, like the child in nature, born to a great inheritance, hath no consciousness of it. But when the hour is come, and the washing of regeneration takes place; the new born heir of the inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is brought forth, to a spiritual, and eternal life in Christ, which can die no more. I must compress a great deal within a small compass, and, therefore, shall only mark down, one by one, a few of the more prominent features, of those acts of mercy.
And, first: let the Reader notice with me, what the Apostle saith in the introduction of the subject. It was after, that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared. By which, perhaps, is meant, that not only after God the Father's everlasting love, in the original choice of the Church in Christ, had taken place; but also, after the love of God our Savior, in coming, during the time-state of the Church, to redeem his Church from the ruin of the fall, had been accomplished, God the Spirit came to accomplish his Almighty purpose of grace no less; and by that act of regeneration, brought the child of God into an ability of enjoying the vast privileges of God the Father's electing love, and God the Son's redeeming mercy.
Secondly. Let the Reader also observe, how the Apostle traceth the mercy to its own original source. Not by works of righteousness which we have done. No! it would cease to have been grace, had any merit, on the part of the creature, been taken into the account. But so far is this from being the case, that the scripture uniformly, in every part, makes it appear, that, as it was when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly: Romans 5:6 . so it was when we were dead in trespasses and sins; the Holy Ghost quickened the Church, into a new and spiritual life. Ephesians 2:1 .
Thirdly, Let the Reader duly consider no less, the cause for which God the Holy Ghost accomplisheth this sovereign act of his, in every instance; namely, as He saith himself, by the Apostle: Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father! Galatians 4:6 . Because ye are sons. It is not that this act of God the Holy Ghost, may make them so; for sons they were before, though sinful sons. But because ye are sons, God the Holy Ghost stands engaged, in Covenant engagements, to recover every individual child of God, whom God the Father hath given to his Son, and whom he hath predestinated, to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself; and whose redemption, God the Son hath purchased by his blood; God the Holy Ghost hath undertaken, and will perform it in every instance, to quicken into spiritual life, from the death of sin, in the Adam-nature fall, and make willing in the day of his power. See those scriptures Ephesians 1:4-5 ; Colossians 1:14-22 ; Isaiah 44:3-5 ; Ezekiel 37:11-14 . I have dwelt the more particularly on this sweet feature of our holy faith, (for it is both sweet, and precious,) that the Reader may be in no danger, (if it so pleaseth the Lord,) of being led away by the ill-judged, and mistaken expressions of some, who, from being ignorant of the electing and predestinating love of God's adoption of his children by Christ before all worlds, have called them heirs of hell, and children of the devil, when before conversion. But, blessed he God! they never were in the least related to such a stock, even in their worst days, when doing the work of Satan, and wearing his livery. They were always, and from everlasting, God's children; though long rebellious children. See Galatians 4:6 and Ephesians 2:3 with Commentary, both places. Isaiah 30:1 .
Fourthly. The regeneration of the child of God, is of such vast importance, in the principles of our holy faith, that before it is wrought, we have no proper apprehension of any one saving mercy. So that, it is this immense act of grace, (than which an equally great one can never more, even in heaven itself, be done,) which brings the soul into life and light, and joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13 . From this blessed day, the spirit hath witnessing from the Spirit, of our adoption character. Romans 8:16 . Justification also, which is an act of God, conceived in the eternal purpose of God from all eternity, and by which the persons of his elect are accepted in Christ, as justified freely by his blood and righteousness; this immense mercy also is in the right of enjoyment at regeneration. And, as the Apostle here speaks, being justified by his grace, they are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life; all these blessings begin, to open upon the soul: neither can they ever after close, but extend more and more to the view, under divine teaching, by the Holy Ghost. Well, therefore, might the Apostle run up all these things, to the fountain head in regeneration; and seeing such blessedness pours in therefrom upon the human state, charge Titus to affirm these things constantly, as a faithful saying; and enjoin all that believe in God, from a work of regeneration having passed upon their spirit, to be careful to maintain good works, which are the gracious fruits, and effects, through divine influences, which must result thereof Romans Reader! what saith the experience of your heart, in correspondence to these precious things?
(9) ¶ But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (10) A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; (11) Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.
Among the ancient Philosophers there were many foolish questions continually discussed in the schools; and the Jews were not a little addicted to the same. 2 Timothy 2:23 . And what Paul saith of heresies, holds good in all ages. It may be proper for a child of God, in the presence of heretics, to give his testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus: But the Holy Ghost hath here decidedly said, that after the first, and second admonition, he is no longer to talk with him, but reject him. And the Lord hath in many other parts of his sacred word, commanded the faithful to separate themselves from such communion, and to have no fellowship with them. 2 Corinthians 1:14 to the end. Ephesians 5:11 ; Revelation 18:4 . I may be singular, for aught I know; but in the present awful day, marked as it specially is by the Holy Ghost, as a day of rebuke, and blasphemy (1 Timothy 4:1-2 ; 2 Peter 2:1-3 , etc.) I cannot see upon what plausible pretences, true believers in Christ can mingle up in society with unbelievers, who scorn the principal doctrines of our holy faith. It was never known in the history of mankind, that while one nation is at war with another nation, the subjects of each met in friendship together; or their garrisons, and harbors, were open to one another. And wherefore should it be less high treason to the Majesty of Heaven, or one that professeth himself to be a faithful subject of Christ's kingdom, and believed in all the glorious doctrines of grace, to sit down, and join hand in hand, under the idea of extending Christian knowledge, with those who deny the Godhead of Christ; the doctrine of the Three Holy Persons in the Godhead, and all the precious truths, which are the alone glory of the Christian faith?
(12) When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. (13) Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. (14) And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. (15) All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
I have nothing to offer on what is here said of those Persons. All of them, have passed away long since, in their generation. And both the Writer and Reader of this Poor Man's Commentary are hastening fast after them. Greet them, saith Paul, that love us in the faith. So say I. Grace be with them all, Amen!
READER! I would pass by all observations on men and things, while reading this sweet scripture, and beg for grace to have all my thoughts directed to that one, glorious contemplation, brought before the Church in this Chapter, namely, the kindness and love of God the Father toward man, in his original, and eternal purpose, concerning the Church in Christ; Jesus's mercy, in betrothing, and redeeming his Church; and God the Spirit, pouring out his regenerating, and renewing grace, which he hath shed abundantly on the Church, and is forever shedding, on all the members of the body, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Oh! the unspeakable felicity of being justified by the Lord's grace, and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life!
Blessed Spirit of all Truth! praises to thine Almighty name, for this precious portion of thine inspired scripture, through the ministry of thy servant Paul. The memory of all the Paul's, and Titus's, which God the Holy Ghost hath raised up as servants in his Church, is precious; and thy faithful, desire grace to bless the Lord for their labors of love. But, oh! thou Holy Lord the Comforter! what praise shall we offer thee, for thine Almighty Ministry, in the glorifying our dear Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ? Glory, praise, and power, be unto our Covenant God in Christ, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now, and ever. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Titus 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13