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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Titus 1

 

 

Verse 1

Titus 1:1

Paul, a servant of God

A servant of God

“Servant of God,” “servant of Jesus Christ”--this is the title by which each one of the writers of the Epistles of the New Testament describes himself in one place or another.
The title indicates their work in life, the place they hold in the world, and the definite object to which all their powers are devoted. For them God had tasks as much above the tasks and trials of Christians generally as the tasks of a great servant of State are above the responsibilities of those whom the State protects. St. Paul had parted company with what men care for and work for here, as the enthusiast for distant travel parts company with his home.

I. This character is exclusive in its object and complete in its self-dedication. St. Paul knew no other interest here but the immense one of his Master’s purpose in the world; this scene of experience, of pain and pleasure, of life and death, was as if it had ceased to be, except as the field on which he was to “spend and be spent” in persuading men of what his Master meant for them.

II. It contemplates as the centre of all interest and hope, the highest object of human thought and devotion, a presence beyond the facts of experience, the presence of the invisible god. What St. Paul lived for, so whole-hearted, so single-minded, was to be one with the will and purpose of Him who had chosen him from the millions of mankind to bear His name before the world.

III. It accepts, as the measure of its labour and its endurance, the cross of jesus christ. For such a life a price had to be paid, and St. Paul’s price was the acceptance of the fellowship of the cross of Christ. The likeness of the cross pervades every life of duty and earnestness--in lifelong trouble, in bereavement, in misunderstanding, in unjust suffering, in weary labour, in failure and defeat--God’s proof and test of strength is laid upon us all. But we must not confound with this that partnership in their Master’s sufferings which was the portion of servants like St. Paul, and for which he sought expression in the awful language recalling the Passion--“I am crucified with Christ”; “I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ,” etc. There is no reason why, without extravagance, without foolish or overstrained enthusiasm, we should not still believe that a life like St. Paul’s is a natural one for a Christian to choose. We still reverence his words; and his words have all along the history of the Church found echoes in many hearts. There is a great past behind us--a past which is not dead, but lives--lives in every thought we think and every word we speak, lives in our hopes, in our confidences and joy in life, lives in those high feelings which thrill and soothe us at the grave. May we not be unworthy of such a past! (Dean Church.)

The honour of being a servant of God

This being the first title whereby the apostle would get himself authority, teacheth that the very name of a servant of God is full of honour and authority. The apostle, comparing the glory of Christ with the glory of the angels (Hebrews 1:14), advanceth them as far as possibly he can, that Christ’s glory, being so much more excellent than theirs there described, might be most highly exalted; and yet the highest ascent of their honour which he can rise unto is to title them “ministering spirits” standing about God, from which service they are honoured with glorious names, of thrones, dominations, powers, rulers, principalities; and although the Scriptures most usually under this title express the low and humble condition of Christ, “who took on Him the form of a servant,” yet also thereby the Lord would sometimes signify His great glory, as Isaiah 42:1.

1. This serves to teach ministers their duty, that seeing the Lord hath so highly honoured them as to draw them so near unto Himself, as it were admitting them into His presence chamber--yea, and unto His council table--they are in a way of thankfulness more straightly bound to two main duties

2. This doctrine ministereth comfort unto those that are faithful in their ministry, whom, howsoever the world esteemeth of them, their Lord highly respecteth, admitteth them into His privy councils, and employeth in a service which the angels themselves desire to pry into.

3. Teacheth people how to esteem of their ministers, namely, as the servants of God, and consequently of their ministry as the message of God, which if it be, Moses must not be murmured at when he speaks freely and roughly; and if Micaiah resolve of faithfulness, saying, “As the Lord liveth, whatsoever the Lord saith, be it good or evil, that will I speak,” why should he be hated and fed with “bread and water of affliction”? Is it not a reasonable plea, and full of pacification in civil messages--“I pray you be not angry with me; I am but a servant”?

4. Let every private Christian account it also his honour that the Lord vouchsafeth him to become His servant; and hereby harden thyself against the scorns and derisions of mocking Michals, who seek to disgrace thy sincerity. If the ungodly of the world would turn thy glory into shame, even as thou wouldest have the Son of man not to be ashamed of thee in His kingdom, be not thou ashamed to profess thyself His servant, which is thy glory. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Willing service

Before the time when Abraham Lincoln emancipated three millions of coloured people in the Southern States of America, there was one day a slave auction in New Orleans. Amongst the number was a beautiful Mulatto girl, who was put upon the “block” to be sold to the highest bidder, like a cow or a horse. The auctioneer, dilating on the graces of the girl, her skill in working, and the beauty of her form, asked for a bid. The first offer was five hundred dollars, and the bids quickly rose to seven hundred dollars. Then a voice called from the outside of the crowd, “Seven hundred and fifty dollars!” The slave owners thereupon advanced their bids to eight hundred, eight hundred and fifty, and nine hundred dollars. The bids continued to rise, but whenever there was a pause the unseen bidder offered fifty dollars more, and at last the girl was knocked down to him for 1,450 dollars. He then came forward, and, paying the money, arranged to receive delivery of the lot in the morning. The slave girl saw that her purchaser was a Northerner, one of the hated “Yankees,” and was much disgusted to become his slave. The next morning her new owner called at the house, when the poor girl said with tears, “Sir, I am ready to go with you.” He gently replied, “But I do not want you to go with me; please look over this paper!” She opened the paper, and found that it was the gift of her freedom. The Northerner said, “I bought you that you might be free!” She exclaimed, “You bought me that I might be free! Am I free? Free! Can I do as I like with myself?” He answered, “Yes, you are free!” Then she fell down and kissed his feet, and almost choking with sobs of joy, she cried, Oh, sir, I will go with you, and be your servant for evermore!”

And an apostle of Jesus Christ

High office means chief service in the Church

The apostle, by joining these two together, a servant and apostle, teacheth us that the chiefest offices in the Church are for the service of it. Was there any office above the apostles in the Church? And yet they preached the Lord Jesus, and themselves servants for His sake. Nay, our Lord Jesus Himself, although He was the Head of His Church, yet He came not into the world to be served, but to minister and serve.

1. Ministers must never conceive of their calling, but also of this service, which is not accomplished but by service; thus shall they be answerable to Peter’s exhortation (1 Peter 3:3) to feed the flock of God depending upon them, not by constraint, but willingly; “not as lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock.”

2. Would’st thou know what ambition Christ hath permitted unto His ministers? It is even this, that he that would be chief of all should become servant of all. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

According to the faith of God’s elect

God’s elect

I. God hath some who are elect and chosen, and others are not. Men may be called the elect of God three ways.

1. In respect of some temporal function or ministry to which the Lord hath designed them (John 6:70).

2. In regard of that actual election and choice of some people and nations above others, unto the true means of life and salvation, so to become the people of God’s election.

3. In respect of that eternal election of God, which is according to grace, whereby of His good pleasure He chooseth from all eternity, out of all sorts of men, some to the certain fruition and fellowship of life eternal and salvation by Christ. These elect of God are here meant, the number of which is comparatively small; “for many are called, but few chosen”--a little flock, and a few that have found the narrow way.

II. These elect have a special faith, distinct by themselves.

1. For there is an historical faith, standing in an assent and acknowledgment of the truth of things written and taught.

2. There is also an hypocritical faith, which passeth the former in two degrees. First, in that with knowledge and assent is joined such a profession of the truth as shall carry a great show and form of godliness. Secondly, a kind of gladness and glorying in that knowledge; for it is ascribed to some, who in temptation shall fall away, “to receive the Word with joy.” To both which may be joined sometimes a gift of prophecy, sometimes of working miracles, as some in the last day shall say, “Lord, have we not prophesied and cast out devils in Thy name?” and yet they shall be unknown of Christ. Neither of these is the faith of the elect here mentioned, but a third kind, called saving faith, the inheritance of which is the property of the elect; for the just man only liveth by this faith, which in excellency passeth both the former in three worthy properties.

III. This peculiar faith is wrought in the elect by the ministry of the word.

1. If this be the principal end of the ministry, let ministers herein employ their first and principal pains to bring men unto the faith.

2. The minister ought to propound before him God’s end in performance of every ministerial duty, and that is by enlightening, converting, confirming, comforting, to bring and stablish men in the faith.

3. The Lord having set out the ministry for this use, let every hearer acknowledge herein God’s ordinance, and yield themselves with all submission unto the ministry and the Word there preached, that thereby they may have faith wrought in their hearts.

4. Every man may hence examine himself, whether in the use of the ministry he finds saving faith begotten and wrought in his heart; and by examination some may find their understandings more enlightened, their judgments more settled, their practice in some things reformed; but a very few shall find Christ apprehended and rested in unto salvation, seeing so few there are that live by faith in the Son of God, for of all the sins that the Spirit may and shall rebuke the world of, this is the chief, because they believe not in Christ. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

And the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness

On the gospel being the truth after godliness

Here we have a full though compendious account of the nature of the gospel, ennobled by two excellent qualities. One, the end of all philosophical inquiries, which is truth; the other, the design of all religious institutions, which is godliness; both united, and as it were blended together in the constitution of Christianity. Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth, as to the reality of the thing, affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness; and I believe it might be easily made out that there is nothing in nature perfectly true but what is also really good. It would be endless to strike forth into the eulogies of truth; for, as we know, it was the adored prize for which the sublimest wits in the world have always run, and sacrificed their time, their health, their lives, to the acquist of; so let it suffice us to say here that as reason is the great rule of man’s nature, so truth is the great regulator of reason.

I. Now in this expression of the gospel’s being “the truth which is after godliness,” these three things are couched.

1. It is a truth, and upon that account dares look its most inquisitive adversaries in the face. The most intricate and mysterious passages in it are vouched by an infinite veracity: and truth is truth, though clothed in riddles and surrounded with darkness and obscurity; as the sun has still the same native inherent brightness, though wrapped up in a cloud. Now, the gospel being a truth, it follows yet further that if we run through the whole catalogue of its principles, nothing can be drawn from thence, by legitimate and certain consequence, but what is also true. It is impossible for truth to afford anything but truth. Every such principle begets a consequence after its own likeness.

2. The next advance of the gospel’s excellency is that it is such a truth as is operative. It does not dwell in the mind like furniture, only for ornament, but for use, and the great concernments of life. The knowledge of astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, and the like, they may fill the mind, and yet never step forth into one experiment; but the knowledge of the Divine truths of Christianity is quick and restless, like an imprisoned flame, which will be sure to force its passage and to display its brightness.

3. The third and highest degree of its perfection is that it is not only operative, but also operative to the best of purposes, which is to godliness: it carries on a design for heaven and eternity. It serves the two greatest interests in the world, which are, the glory of the Creator and the salvation of the creature; and this the gospel does by being “the truth which is after godliness.” Which words may admit of a double sense

II. There are three things that I shall deduce from this description of the gospel.

1. That the nature and prime essential design of religion is to be an instrument of good life, by administering arguments and motives inducing to it.

2. That so much knowledge of truth as is sufficient to engage men’s lives in the practice of godliness serves the necessary ends of religion; for if godliness be the design, it ought also, by consequence, to be the measure of men’s knowledge in this particular.

3. That whatsoever does in itself or its direct consequences undermine the motives of a good life is contrary to, and destructive of Christian religion. (R. South, D. D.)

The doctrine of the gospel

I. The doctrine of the gospel is the truth itself

1. Because the Author of it is truth itself, and cannot lie, it being a part of His Word, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

2. Because the penmen of it were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and spake and wrote as they were moved by Him, who is called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17).

3. Because it is a doctrine of Christ, and aimeth at Him who is the Truth principally, as well as the Way of our salvation.

II. The knowledge of this truth is the ground of faith.

1. Then slight is the faith of most, whatsoever men profess.

2. Waverers in religion and unsettled persons in their profession may hence be informed to judge of themselves and their present estate. We hear more than a few uttering such voices as these: “There is such difference of opinion among teachers that I know not what to hold or whom to believe; but is not this openly to proclaim the want of faith, which is not only assuredly persuaded of, but certainly knoweth the truth of that it apprehendeth?”

3. If the elect are brought to the faith by the acknowledging of the truth, then, after long teaching and much means, to be still blind and not to see the things of our peace is a most heavy judgment of God; for here is a forfeit of faith and salvation.

III. Whosoever in truth entertain the doctrine of the gospel, the hearts of such are framed unto godliness.

1. If this be the preeminence of the Word, to frame the soul to true godliness, then it is a matter above the reach of all human learning; and therefore the folly of those men is hence discovered who devote and bury themselves in profane studies, of what kind soever they be, thinking therein to obtain more wisdom than in the study of the Scriptures.

2. Every hearer of the truth must examine whether by it his heart be thus framed unto godliness, for else it is not rightly learned; for as this grace “hath appeared to this purpose, to teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and justly and godly in this present world,” so it is not then learned when men can only discourse of the death of Christ, of His resurrection, of His ascension, except withal there be some experience of the virtue of His death in themselves. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Redemptive truth

I. A grand enterprise.

1. An enterprise devoted to the highest purpose.

2. An enterprise employing the highest human agency.

II. A transcendent promise.

1. Transcendent in value.

2. In certitude.

3. In age.

III. A gradual revelation.

1. It was manifested at a proper time.

2. By apostolic preaching.

3. By the Divine command.

IV. A love-begetting power. “Mine own son.” The gospel converter becomes the father in the highest and divinest sense of the converted. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Lessons

I. An honourable designation.

1. “Servant of God.”

2. Apostle of Christ.”

II. A glorious purpose--“According to,” or rather, perhaps, “with reference to,” the faith of God’s people. Sent by Jesus Christ in order to promote the faith of “God’s elect.”

III. The reasonableness of religion--“The acknowledging of the truth.” Faith is the central doctrine of Christianity, but is to be distinguished from blind credulity. The faith of the Christian is based on knowledge, on fact, on truth (2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3).

IV. The practical character of religion--“The truth which is after godliness”; that is, piety. Original word probably derived from one signifying “good, brave, noble.” Paul was himself emphatically a model of manliness and devout courage. (F. Wagstaff.)

The grandest end and means of life

In this verse the apostle speaks of himself as

1. Possessing a character common to the good of all worlds--“Servant of God.” All creatures are servants of God--some without their will, some according to their will. Paul served God freely, cordially, devotedly.

2. Sustaining an office peculiar to a few--“Apostle.” Peculiar in appointment, number, and authority.

3. Engaged in a work binding on all Christians. To promote “the faith of God’s elect”--that is, of His people--and “the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness.”

I. Godliness is the grandest end of being. In the Old Testament the good are called “godly” (Psalms 4:3; Psalms 12:1; Psalms 32:6; Malachi 2:15). In the New Testament goodness is called “godliness” (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Timothy 6:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:6-7; 2 Peter 3:11). Godliness is moral likeness to God.

II. Truth is the grandest means of being. All truth is of God, natural and spiritual. The truth here referred to is the gospel truth--“the truth as it is in Jesus”--which, while it illustrates, vivifies and emphasises all other truth, goes beyond it, opens up new chapters of Divine revelation. It is not only moral truth, but redemptive truth, and redemptive truth not in mere propositions, but in a Divine life. This truth is the power of God unto salvation; it delivers from depravity, prejudice, guilt; it raises to purity, truth, peace. (Homilist.)

Truth as a medium of godliness

Suppose that a person wishing to send a message from London to Edinburgh by lightning knows how to construct an electric battery; but, when he comes to consider how he will transmit the impulse through hundreds of miles, he looks at an iron wire and says, “This is dull, senseless, cold; has no sympathy with light: it is unnatural, in fact irrational, to imagine that this dark thing can convey a lightning message in a moment.” From this he turns and looks at a prism. It glows with the many-coloured sunbeam. He might say, “This is sympathetic with light,” and in its flashing imagine that he saw proof that his message would speed through it; but when he puts it to the experiment, it proves that the shining prism will convey no touch of his silent fire, but that the dull iron will transmit it to the farthest end of the land. And so with God’s holy truth. It alone is adapted to carry into the soul of man the secret fire, which writes before the inner eye of the soul a message from the Unseen One in the skies. (T. W. Jenkyn, D. D.)


Verse 1

Titus 1:1

Paul, a servant of God

A servant of God

“Servant of God,” “servant of Jesus Christ”--this is the title by which each one of the writers of the Epistles of the New Testament describes himself in one place or another.
The title indicates their work in life, the place they hold in the world, and the definite object to which all their powers are devoted. For them God had tasks as much above the tasks and trials of Christians generally as the tasks of a great servant of State are above the responsibilities of those whom the State protects. St. Paul had parted company with what men care for and work for here, as the enthusiast for distant travel parts company with his home.

I. This character is exclusive in its object and complete in its self-dedication. St. Paul knew no other interest here but the immense one of his Master’s purpose in the world; this scene of experience, of pain and pleasure, of life and death, was as if it had ceased to be, except as the field on which he was to “spend and be spent” in persuading men of what his Master meant for them.

II. It contemplates as the centre of all interest and hope, the highest object of human thought and devotion, a presence beyond the facts of experience, the presence of the invisible god. What St. Paul lived for, so whole-hearted, so single-minded, was to be one with the will and purpose of Him who had chosen him from the millions of mankind to bear His name before the world.

III. It accepts, as the measure of its labour and its endurance, the cross of jesus christ. For such a life a price had to be paid, and St. Paul’s price was the acceptance of the fellowship of the cross of Christ. The likeness of the cross pervades every life of duty and earnestness--in lifelong trouble, in bereavement, in misunderstanding, in unjust suffering, in weary labour, in failure and defeat--God’s proof and test of strength is laid upon us all. But we must not confound with this that partnership in their Master’s sufferings which was the portion of servants like St. Paul, and for which he sought expression in the awful language recalling the Passion--“I am crucified with Christ”; “I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ,” etc. There is no reason why, without extravagance, without foolish or overstrained enthusiasm, we should not still believe that a life like St. Paul’s is a natural one for a Christian to choose. We still reverence his words; and his words have all along the history of the Church found echoes in many hearts. There is a great past behind us--a past which is not dead, but lives--lives in every thought we think and every word we speak, lives in our hopes, in our confidences and joy in life, lives in those high feelings which thrill and soothe us at the grave. May we not be unworthy of such a past! (Dean Church.)

The honour of being a servant of God

This being the first title whereby the apostle would get himself authority, teacheth that the very name of a servant of God is full of honour and authority. The apostle, comparing the glory of Christ with the glory of the angels (Hebrews 1:14), advanceth them as far as possibly he can, that Christ’s glory, being so much more excellent than theirs there described, might be most highly exalted; and yet the highest ascent of their honour which he can rise unto is to title them “ministering spirits” standing about God, from which service they are honoured with glorious names, of thrones, dominations, powers, rulers, principalities; and although the Scriptures most usually under this title express the low and humble condition of Christ, “who took on Him the form of a servant,” yet also thereby the Lord would sometimes signify His great glory, as Isaiah 42:1.

1. This serves to teach ministers their duty, that seeing the Lord hath so highly honoured them as to draw them so near unto Himself, as it were admitting them into His presence chamber--yea, and unto His council table--they are in a way of thankfulness more straightly bound to two main duties

2. This doctrine ministereth comfort unto those that are faithful in their ministry, whom, howsoever the world esteemeth of them, their Lord highly respecteth, admitteth them into His privy councils, and employeth in a service which the angels themselves desire to pry into.

3. Teacheth people how to esteem of their ministers, namely, as the servants of God, and consequently of their ministry as the message of God, which if it be, Moses must not be murmured at when he speaks freely and roughly; and if Micaiah resolve of faithfulness, saying, “As the Lord liveth, whatsoever the Lord saith, be it good or evil, that will I speak,” why should he be hated and fed with “bread and water of affliction”? Is it not a reasonable plea, and full of pacification in civil messages--“I pray you be not angry with me; I am but a servant”?

4. Let every private Christian account it also his honour that the Lord vouchsafeth him to become His servant; and hereby harden thyself against the scorns and derisions of mocking Michals, who seek to disgrace thy sincerity. If the ungodly of the world would turn thy glory into shame, even as thou wouldest have the Son of man not to be ashamed of thee in His kingdom, be not thou ashamed to profess thyself His servant, which is thy glory. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Willing service

Before the time when Abraham Lincoln emancipated three millions of coloured people in the Southern States of America, there was one day a slave auction in New Orleans. Amongst the number was a beautiful Mulatto girl, who was put upon the “block” to be sold to the highest bidder, like a cow or a horse. The auctioneer, dilating on the graces of the girl, her skill in working, and the beauty of her form, asked for a bid. The first offer was five hundred dollars, and the bids quickly rose to seven hundred dollars. Then a voice called from the outside of the crowd, “Seven hundred and fifty dollars!” The slave owners thereupon advanced their bids to eight hundred, eight hundred and fifty, and nine hundred dollars. The bids continued to rise, but whenever there was a pause the unseen bidder offered fifty dollars more, and at last the girl was knocked down to him for 1,450 dollars. He then came forward, and, paying the money, arranged to receive delivery of the lot in the morning. The slave girl saw that her purchaser was a Northerner, one of the hated “Yankees,” and was much disgusted to become his slave. The next morning her new owner called at the house, when the poor girl said with tears, “Sir, I am ready to go with you.” He gently replied, “But I do not want you to go with me; please look over this paper!” She opened the paper, and found that it was the gift of her freedom. The Northerner said, “I bought you that you might be free!” She exclaimed, “You bought me that I might be free! Am I free? Free! Can I do as I like with myself?” He answered, “Yes, you are free!” Then she fell down and kissed his feet, and almost choking with sobs of joy, she cried, Oh, sir, I will go with you, and be your servant for evermore!”

And an apostle of Jesus Christ

High office means chief service in the Church

The apostle, by joining these two together, a servant and apostle, teacheth us that the chiefest offices in the Church are for the service of it. Was there any office above the apostles in the Church? And yet they preached the Lord Jesus, and themselves servants for His sake. Nay, our Lord Jesus Himself, although He was the Head of His Church, yet He came not into the world to be served, but to minister and serve.

1. Ministers must never conceive of their calling, but also of this service, which is not accomplished but by service; thus shall they be answerable to Peter’s exhortation (1 Peter 3:3) to feed the flock of God depending upon them, not by constraint, but willingly; “not as lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock.”

2. Would’st thou know what ambition Christ hath permitted unto His ministers? It is even this, that he that would be chief of all should become servant of all. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

According to the faith of God’s elect

God’s elect

I. God hath some who are elect and chosen, and others are not. Men may be called the elect of God three ways.

1. In respect of some temporal function or ministry to which the Lord hath designed them (John 6:70).

2. In regard of that actual election and choice of some people and nations above others, unto the true means of life and salvation, so to become the people of God’s election.

3. In respect of that eternal election of God, which is according to grace, whereby of His good pleasure He chooseth from all eternity, out of all sorts of men, some to the certain fruition and fellowship of life eternal and salvation by Christ. These elect of God are here meant, the number of which is comparatively small; “for many are called, but few chosen”--a little flock, and a few that have found the narrow way.

II. These elect have a special faith, distinct by themselves.

1. For there is an historical faith, standing in an assent and acknowledgment of the truth of things written and taught.

2. There is also an hypocritical faith, which passeth the former in two degrees. First, in that with knowledge and assent is joined such a profession of the truth as shall carry a great show and form of godliness. Secondly, a kind of gladness and glorying in that knowledge; for it is ascribed to some, who in temptation shall fall away, “to receive the Word with joy.” To both which may be joined sometimes a gift of prophecy, sometimes of working miracles, as some in the last day shall say, “Lord, have we not prophesied and cast out devils in Thy name?” and yet they shall be unknown of Christ. Neither of these is the faith of the elect here mentioned, but a third kind, called saving faith, the inheritance of which is the property of the elect; for the just man only liveth by this faith, which in excellency passeth both the former in three worthy properties.

III. This peculiar faith is wrought in the elect by the ministry of the word.

1. If this be the principal end of the ministry, let ministers herein employ their first and principal pains to bring men unto the faith.

2. The minister ought to propound before him God’s end in performance of every ministerial duty, and that is by enlightening, converting, confirming, comforting, to bring and stablish men in the faith.

3. The Lord having set out the ministry for this use, let every hearer acknowledge herein God’s ordinance, and yield themselves with all submission unto the ministry and the Word there preached, that thereby they may have faith wrought in their hearts.

4. Every man may hence examine himself, whether in the use of the ministry he finds saving faith begotten and wrought in his heart; and by examination some may find their understandings more enlightened, their judgments more settled, their practice in some things reformed; but a very few shall find Christ apprehended and rested in unto salvation, seeing so few there are that live by faith in the Son of God, for of all the sins that the Spirit may and shall rebuke the world of, this is the chief, because they believe not in Christ. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

And the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness

On the gospel being the truth after godliness

Here we have a full though compendious account of the nature of the gospel, ennobled by two excellent qualities. One, the end of all philosophical inquiries, which is truth; the other, the design of all religious institutions, which is godliness; both united, and as it were blended together in the constitution of Christianity. Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth, as to the reality of the thing, affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness; and I believe it might be easily made out that there is nothing in nature perfectly true but what is also really good. It would be endless to strike forth into the eulogies of truth; for, as we know, it was the adored prize for which the sublimest wits in the world have always run, and sacrificed their time, their health, their lives, to the acquist of; so let it suffice us to say here that as reason is the great rule of man’s nature, so truth is the great regulator of reason.

I. Now in this expression of the gospel’s being “the truth which is after godliness,” these three things are couched.

1. It is a truth, and upon that account dares look its most inquisitive adversaries in the face. The most intricate and mysterious passages in it are vouched by an infinite veracity: and truth is truth, though clothed in riddles and surrounded with darkness and obscurity; as the sun has still the same native inherent brightness, though wrapped up in a cloud. Now, the gospel being a truth, it follows yet further that if we run through the whole catalogue of its principles, nothing can be drawn from thence, by legitimate and certain consequence, but what is also true. It is impossible for truth to afford anything but truth. Every such principle begets a consequence after its own likeness.

2. The next advance of the gospel’s excellency is that it is such a truth as is operative. It does not dwell in the mind like furniture, only for ornament, but for use, and the great concernments of life. The knowledge of astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, and the like, they may fill the mind, and yet never step forth into one experiment; but the knowledge of the Divine truths of Christianity is quick and restless, like an imprisoned flame, which will be sure to force its passage and to display its brightness.

3. The third and highest degree of its perfection is that it is not only operative, but also operative to the best of purposes, which is to godliness: it carries on a design for heaven and eternity. It serves the two greatest interests in the world, which are, the glory of the Creator and the salvation of the creature; and this the gospel does by being “the truth which is after godliness.” Which words may admit of a double sense

II. There are three things that I shall deduce from this description of the gospel.

1. That the nature and prime essential design of religion is to be an instrument of good life, by administering arguments and motives inducing to it.

2. That so much knowledge of truth as is sufficient to engage men’s lives in the practice of godliness serves the necessary ends of religion; for if godliness be the design, it ought also, by consequence, to be the measure of men’s knowledge in this particular.

3. That whatsoever does in itself or its direct consequences undermine the motives of a good life is contrary to, and destructive of Christian religion. (R. South, D. D.)

The doctrine of the gospel

I. The doctrine of the gospel is the truth itself

1. Because the Author of it is truth itself, and cannot lie, it being a part of His Word, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

2. Because the penmen of it were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and spake and wrote as they were moved by Him, who is called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17).

3. Because it is a doctrine of Christ, and aimeth at Him who is the Truth principally, as well as the Way of our salvation.

II. The knowledge of this truth is the ground of faith.

1. Then slight is the faith of most, whatsoever men profess.

2. Waverers in religion and unsettled persons in their profession may hence be informed to judge of themselves and their present estate. We hear more than a few uttering such voices as these: “There is such difference of opinion among teachers that I know not what to hold or whom to believe; but is not this openly to proclaim the want of faith, which is not only assuredly persuaded of, but certainly knoweth the truth of that it apprehendeth?”

3. If the elect are brought to the faith by the acknowledging of the truth, then, after long teaching and much means, to be still blind and not to see the things of our peace is a most heavy judgment of God; for here is a forfeit of faith and salvation.

III. Whosoever in truth entertain the doctrine of the gospel, the hearts of such are framed unto godliness.

1. If this be the preeminence of the Word, to frame the soul to true godliness, then it is a matter above the reach of all human learning; and therefore the folly of those men is hence discovered who devote and bury themselves in profane studies, of what kind soever they be, thinking therein to obtain more wisdom than in the study of the Scriptures.

2. Every hearer of the truth must examine whether by it his heart be thus framed unto godliness, for else it is not rightly learned; for as this grace “hath appeared to this purpose, to teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly and justly and godly in this present world,” so it is not then learned when men can only discourse of the death of Christ, of His resurrection, of His ascension, except withal there be some experience of the virtue of His death in themselves. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Redemptive truth

I. A grand enterprise.

1. An enterprise devoted to the highest purpose.

2. An enterprise employing the highest human agency.

II. A transcendent promise.

1. Transcendent in value.

2. In certitude.

3. In age.

III. A gradual revelation.

1. It was manifested at a proper time.

2. By apostolic preaching.

3. By the Divine command.

IV. A love-begetting power. “Mine own son.” The gospel converter becomes the father in the highest and divinest sense of the converted. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Lessons

I. An honourable designation.

1. “Servant of God.”

2. Apostle of Christ.”

II. A glorious purpose--“According to,” or rather, perhaps, “with reference to,” the faith of God’s people. Sent by Jesus Christ in order to promote the faith of “God’s elect.”

III. The reasonableness of religion--“The acknowledging of the truth.” Faith is the central doctrine of Christianity, but is to be distinguished from blind credulity. The faith of the Christian is based on knowledge, on fact, on truth (2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3).

IV. The practical character of religion--“The truth which is after godliness”; that is, piety. Original word probably derived from one signifying “good, brave, noble.” Paul was himself emphatically a model of manliness and devout courage. (F. Wagstaff.)

The grandest end and means of life

In this verse the apostle speaks of himself as

1. Possessing a character common to the good of all worlds--“Servant of God.” All creatures are servants of God--some without their will, some according to their will. Paul served God freely, cordially, devotedly.

2. Sustaining an office peculiar to a few--“Apostle.” Peculiar in appointment, number, and authority.

3. Engaged in a work binding on all Christians. To promote “the faith of God’s elect”--that is, of His people--and “the knowledge of the truth which leads to godliness.”

I. Godliness is the grandest end of being. In the Old Testament the good are called “godly” (Psalms 4:3; Psalms 12:1; Psalms 32:6; Malachi 2:15). In the New Testament goodness is called “godliness” (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Timothy 6:3; 1 Timothy 6:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:6-7; 2 Peter 3:11). Godliness is moral likeness to God.

II. Truth is the grandest means of being. All truth is of God, natural and spiritual. The truth here referred to is the gospel truth--“the truth as it is in Jesus”--which, while it illustrates, vivifies and emphasises all other truth, goes beyond it, opens up new chapters of Divine revelation. It is not only moral truth, but redemptive truth, and redemptive truth not in mere propositions, but in a Divine life. This truth is the power of God unto salvation; it delivers from depravity, prejudice, guilt; it raises to purity, truth, peace. (Homilist.)

Truth as a medium of godliness

Suppose that a person wishing to send a message from London to Edinburgh by lightning knows how to construct an electric battery; but, when he comes to consider how he will transmit the impulse through hundreds of miles, he looks at an iron wire and says, “This is dull, senseless, cold; has no sympathy with light: it is unnatural, in fact irrational, to imagine that this dark thing can convey a lightning message in a moment.” From this he turns and looks at a prism. It glows with the many-coloured sunbeam. He might say, “This is sympathetic with light,” and in its flashing imagine that he saw proof that his message would speed through it; but when he puts it to the experiment, it proves that the shining prism will convey no touch of his silent fire, but that the dull iron will transmit it to the farthest end of the land. And so with God’s holy truth. It alone is adapted to carry into the soul of man the secret fire, which writes before the inner eye of the soul a message from the Unseen One in the skies. (T. W. Jenkyn, D. D.)


Verse 2

Titus 1:2

In hope of eternal life

Christianity a hope-inspiring promise

I.
It is an absolutely certain promise. It is God’s premise, and God cannot lie.

II. It is an infinitely rich promise. “Eternal life,” i.e., eternal well-being.

III. It is a very old promise. “Before the world began.” (Homilist.)

Hope reaching beyond the revolutions of time

I. It is glorious in its object. “Eternal life”--a life of eternal goodness.

II. It is divine in its foundation.

1. Inviolable.

2. Eternal.

3. Conditional. (Homilist.)

Lessons

I. A glorious prospect--“Eternal life.”

II. A truth-speaking god--“That cannot lie” (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18).

III. An old-standing promise--“Before the world began.” (F. Wagstaff.)

The covenant--its deathless life and hope

I. The general doctrine.

1. God, he tells us, who cannot lie, made a certain promise before the world began. Not, observe, formed a purpose merely. We know well, indeed, from many a scripture, that He formed a purpose. But the apostle says that He did more,--that He made a promise--and to this belongs the special character under which he presents the adorable God here, “God that cannot lie.” But to whom was the promise made? It could only be to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. It was “eternal life” of which God, before the world began, made promise. The Son of God could not receive such a promise for Himself. He could receive it only as the predestined Mediator--the Head and Surety of a people “given to Him by the Father,” to be in time redeemed by Him, and eternally saved.

3. And thus does there arise a third momentous truth, namely, that this promise could be made to Christ only on a certain condition--only on supposition, and in respect of His whole future obedience unto death in behalf of His people.

II. A hope unspeakably glorious and stable in its character.

1. Its glory. “Hope of eternal life.” I cannot tell what this is. “It doth not yet appear,” etc. This, at least, we know, that the “eternal life” shall have in it the expansion to the full of all the faculties and affections of the renewed nature; the perfect harmony of those faculties and affections both among themselves and with the will of the adorable God; the end of the last remnants of sin; all tears forever dried up; body and soul reunited in a holy, deathless companionship, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity!

2. Its immovable stability.

1. See the absolute security of the ransomed Church of God, and each living member of it.

2. Remember those words in Romans, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” That is to say, there is an open entrance for all of us, sinners, into the whole inviolable security of this covenant of promise, by faith alone, without the deeds of the law--“it is of faith, that it might be by grace.”

3. I end with the “hope” (daughter of the faith)--the undying hope--the “hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” What a hope this for storms and tempests--“anchor of the soul” indeed, “sure and steadfast”! What a hope for afflictions, to sustain under them; for duties, to carry through them; for death and the grave, to give the victory over them! (C. J. Brown, D. D.)

The grace of hope

I. Every faithful teacher must conceive it to be his duty to draw men’s hearts from things below to the contemplation of things of an higher strain, and from seeking the things tending to a temporal, unto such as belong to life eternal.

1. This was the aim of all the men of God, whose faithfulness the Scriptures hath recommended unto our imitation. All that pedagogy during the law was only to train men unto Christ, and to salvation by Him.

2. All other professions further men in their earthly estates, some employed about the health of the body, some about the maintaining of men’s outward rights, some about the framing of tender minds in human disciplines and sciences; all which further our fellowship and society among men; only this, of all other professions, furthereth men in their heavenly estate, and fitteth them, yea maketh up for them their fellowship with God (Ephesians 4:11-12).

3. Hereby men lay a sure groundwork of profiting men in godliness, for this expectation and desire of life eternal once wrought in the heart, it easily bringeth men to the denial of themselves, both in bearing the cross for Christ, as Moses esteemed highly of the rebuke of Christ--for he had respect unto the recompense of reward--as also in stripping themselves of profits, pleasures, advancements, friends, father, wife, children, liberty, yea, of life itself.

II. True faith never goes alone, but, as a queen, is attended with many other graces, as knowledge, love, fear of God; among which hope here mentioned not only adorneth and beautifieth, but strengtheneth and fortifieth the believer, and as a helmet of salvation, causeth the Christian soldier to hold out in repentance and obedience.

1. The original of it. It is a gift of God and obtained by prayer as faith also is, whence the apostle prayeth that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give the Ephesians to know what the hope is of his calling.

2. The subjects in whom it is. The saints, for as the practise of believers before Christ to wait for His first coming in humility, as we read of Simeon, Hannah, and many others, so now believers as constantly wait for his second coming and the comforts of it (Revelation 22:17).

3. The object of this hope. Things to come, and, namely, after the resurrection, life eternal. In which regard the apostle calleth it a hope laid up in heaven, which is all one with that in the text, hope of life eternal, unto which it lifteth up the heart and affections. Where the excellency of the grace may be conceived from the excellency of the object; it is not conversant about momentary and fleeting matters, nor insisteth in things below, but about durable and eternal things to come; and not only comforteth the soul here below on earth, but crowneth it hereafter in heaven.

4. It is added in the description that this grace of hope doth firmly and not waveringly expect this eminent object, and this it doth, both because it is grounded not upon man’s merit, power, or promises, but upon the most firm promise of God, as also in that the Holy Ghost, who first worketh it, doth also nourish it, yea, and so sealeth it up unto the heart as it can never make ashamed; it may, indeed, be tossed and shaken with many kinds of temptations, yet in the patient attending upon the Lord it holdeth out and faileth not. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Eternal life

I. What is that eternal life which is the object of faith and expectation? Complete deliverance from all evil, and the positive and perfect enjoyment of all good forever.

II. Why do we relieve in it?

1. God has promised it.

2. Christ has actually taken possession of it.

3. The Holy Spirit, given to them that believe, is expressly said to be the earnest and first fruits of eternal life.

4. The real Christian has an undoubted and undeceiving foretaste of this blessedness.

III. The influence which our relief of this great truth should have upon our spirit and conduct.

1. It should influence us to a due consideration of, and a diligent preparation for, the eternity to which we are destined.

2. It should influence us to a decided consecration of ourselves to that blessed Master whose service on earth is connected with so great and so substantial a reward in heaven.

3. It should induce us to a cheerful renunciation of the world as our portion.

4. It should influence us to cheerful and patient suffering under all the ills which can possibly crowd upon us in the present state of existence.

5. It should influence us to indefatigable diligence in seeking the salvation of the human soul.

6. Lastly, what comfort may not this subject inspire in the prospect of our departure hence, our descent into the cold grave, and our introduction into that state, of which we have feebly enunciated the reality. (G. Clayton, M. A.)

The inspiration of hope

“Look up!” thundered the captain of a vessel, as his boy grew giddy while gazing from the topmast,--“look up!” The boy looked up, and returned in safety. Young man, look up, and you will succeed. Never look down and despair. Leave dangers uncured for, and push on. If you falter, you lose. Do right, and trust in God.

God, that cannot lie

What God cannot do

Truth once reigned supreme upon our globe, and then earth was Paradise. Man knew no sorrow while he was ignorant of falsehood. Falsehood is everywhere; it is entertained both by the lowest and the highest; it permeates all society. In the so-called religious world, which should be as the Holy of Holies, here too, the lie has insinuated itself. We have everywhere to battle with falsehood, and if we are to bless the world, we must confront it with sturdy face and zealous spirit. God’s purpose is to drive the lie out of the world, and be this your purpose and mine. After wandering over the sandy desert of deceit, how pleasant is it to reach our text, and feel that one spot at least is verdant with eternal truth. Blessed be Thou, O God, for Thou canst not lie.

I. The truth of the text.

1. God is not subject to those infirmities which lead us into falsehood. You and I are such that we can know in the heart, and yet with the tongue deny; but God is one and indivisible; God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all; with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

2. The scriptural idea of God forbids that He should lie. The very word “God” comprehendeth everything which is good and great. Admit the lie, and to us at once there would be nothing but the black darkness of atheism forever. I could neither love, worship, nor obey a lying God.

3. God is too wise to lie. Falsehood is the expedient of a fool.

4. And the lie is the method of the little and the mean. You know that a great man does not lie; a good man can never be false. Put goodness and greatness together, and a lie is altogether incongruous to the character. Now God is too great to need the lie, and too good to wish to do such a thing; both His greatness and His goodness repel the thought.

5. What motive could God have for lying? When a man lies it is that he may gain something, but “the cattle on a thousand hills” are God’s, and all the beasts of the forest, and all the flocks of the meadows. Mines of inexhaustible riches are His, and treasures of infinite power and wisdom. He cannot gain aught by untruth, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof”; wherefore, then, should He lie?

6. Moreover, we may add to all this the experience of men with regard to God. It has been evident enough in all ages that God cannot lie.

II. The breadth of meaning in the text. When we are told in Scripture that God cannot lie, there is usually associated with the idea the thought of immutability. As for instance--“He is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent.” We understand by it, not only that He cannot say what is untrue, but that having said something which is true He never changes from it, and does not by any possibility alter His purpose or retract His word. This is very consolatory to the Christian, that whatever God has said in the Divine purpose is never changed. The decrees of God were not written upon sand, but upon the eternal brass of His unchangeable nature. There is no shadow of a lie upon anything which God thinks, or speaks, or does. He cannot lie in His prophecies. How solemnly true have they been! Ask the wastes of Nineveh; turn to the mounds of Babylon; let the traveller speak concerning Idumea and Petra. Has God’s curse been an idle word? No, not in one single case. As God is true in His prophecies, so is He faithful to His promises. His threatenings are true also. Ah! sinner, thou mayst go on in thy ways for many a day, but thy sin shall find thee out at the last.

III. How we ought to act towards god if it be true that he is a “god that cannot lie.”

1. If it be so that God cannot lie, then it must be the natural duty of all His creatures to believe Him if I doubt God, as far as I am able I rob Him of His honour; I am, in fact, living an open traitor and a sworn rebel against God, upon whom I heap the daily insult of daring to doubt Him.

2. If we were absolutely sure that there lived on earth a person who could not lie, bow would you treat him? Well, I think you would cultivate his acquaintance.

3. If we knew a man who could not lie, we should believe him, methinks, without an oath. To say “He has promised and will perform; He has said that whosoever believeth in Christ is not condemned; I do believe in Christ, and therefore I am not condemned,” this is genuine faith.

4. Again, if we knew a man who could not lie, we should believe him in the teeth of fifty witnesses the other way. Why, we should say, “they may say what they will, but they can lie.” This shows us that we ought to believe God in the teeth of every contradiction. Even if outward providence should come to you, and say that God has forsaken you, that is only one; and even if fifty trials should all say that God has forsaken you, yet, as God says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” which will you take--the one promise of God who cannot lie, or the fifty outward providences which you cannot interpret?

5. If a man were introduced to us, and we were certain that he could not lie, we should believe everything he said, however incredible it might appear to us at first sight to be. It does seem very incredible at first sight that God should take a sinner, full of sin, and forgive all his iniquities in one moment, simply and only upon the ground of the sinner believing in Christ. But supposing it should seem too good to be true, yet, since you have it upon the testimony of One who “cannot lie,” I pray you believe it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Lessons:

1. If God cannot lie, then whatsoever His ministers promise or threaten from Him, and out of His Word, is above all exception; seeing He hath spoken it, who cannot lie, deceive, or be deceived; which should stir up every man to give glory unto God (as Abraham did) by sealing to His truth--that is, by believing and applying unto his own soul every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, for whosoever thus receiveth His testimony hath sealed that God is true, than which no greater glory can be given unto Him. Whereas not to believe Him on His Word is as high a dishonour as any man can cast upon Him, for it is to give God the lie; he that believeth not hath made Him a liar, which in manners and civility we could not offer to our equal, and which even a mean man would scorn to put up at our hands.

2. Seeing God cannot lie let every one of us labour to express this virtue of God--first, and especially the minister in his place, seeing he speaketh from God; nay, God speaketh by him, he must therefore deliver true sayings worthy of all men to be received, that he may say in his own heart that which Paul spake of himself, “I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not,” and justify that of His doctrine which Paul did of his writings, “the things which now I write unto you, behold I witness before God that I lie not.” (T. Taylor, D. D.)

God cannot lie

I. An argument for trust. God, in all views of His character, may be safely trusted. He is wise, mighty, good, and faithful.

II. An argument for truth. God, who cannot lie Himself, hates lying in others. Be truthful, for God cannot be deceived. (J. Edmond, D.D.)

Promised before the world began

All the promises, promises to Christ

St. Paul speaks only of the promise of “eternal life,” but you will admit at once that such a promise must be regarded as including every other. In promising “eternal life,” God is to be considered as promising whatsoever is required for the attaining eternal life. The promise of eternal life is a sort of summary of all the promises; for every other promise has to do with something which is helpful to us in our course; with those assistances in duty, or those supports under trial, without which eternal life can never be reached. To whom, then, did He make the promise? If He promised before the world began, He must have promised before there were any human beings, with whom to enter into covenant. If the promise were then made, the two contracting parties must have been then in existence or intercourse; whereas there was then certainly no Church, no man, to form a covenant with the Almighty. There can be little debate that it must have been to Christ, the second Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, that God made the “promise of eternal life before the world began.” “Before the world began” the apostasy of our race was contemplated and provided for in the councils of heaven. A solemn covenant was entered into between the Persons of the Trinity, each undertaking an amazing part in the plan for our redemption; and though the Mediator had not then assumed human form, He already acted as the Head or Representative of the Church, engaging to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and receiving in return the promise that the sacrifice should be accepted, and should prevail to the full salvation of all such as believe on His name. Eternal life was promised to Christ, on behalf of the Church; it was promised to the Church for the sake of Christ; or, rather, it was promised to Christ, as that result of His obedience and endurance in the flesh, which He might bestow on all those who should have faith in the propitiation. But whilst this seems sufficient to explain the strangeness of our text, you can hardly fail to observe that the explanation involves a great general doctrine or truth; even the same doctrine or truth which is elsewhere announced by St. Paul when, speaking of Christ, he says that “all the promises of God are in Him yea and amen”; in other words, that God has promised nothing to man, but in Christ or on account of Christ, and that all that He hath thus promised hath on His account been fulfilled. In order to the clearing and understanding of this, you are to observe that Adam, as the father of all men, steed federally in their place. And when the whole race had thus fallen, in the person of their representative, there were no blessings and no mercies for which man could look. Human nature had become so necessarily and entirely exposed to Divine vengeance that there was no room whatsoever for promise. Therefore, if He promised at all, it could only have been in virtue of His having covenanted with another Head; with One who had put the race which He represented into such a moral position, that it would no longer be at variance with the Divine character, to extend to them the offices of friendship. Because it was His own Son who had undertaken to be this Head of humanity, and because it was therefore certain that the required ransom would be paid to the last farthing, God could immediately open to man the fountain of His benevolence, and deal with man as a being who stood within the possibilities of forgiveness and immortality. But if this be the true account why, after his transgression, man could still be the object of the promises of God, it follows distinctly that, according to the doctrine of our text, these promises, however announced to the sinner at or after the time of his sin, were promises originally made to another; and that, too, “before the world began.” There could have been no promises, it appears, had not “the Word which was in the beginning with God, and which was God,” previously engaged to become the Surety for the beings who had just woven death and woe and shame into their inheritance. Assuredly it follows from this that whatsoever is now promised to man is not promised to man in himself but to man in his representative. It must have been promised to Christ before it was promised to man; or rather, the promise must have been made unto Christ though the thing promised should be given to man. Fix not, then, as the origin of a promise, the occasion when the promise was clothed in human speech; associate not the making of that promise with the human being to whom it was first uttered. The promise was made before man was created; the promise was given to a higher than man, to a higher than any finite being. And when you have taken, as you justly may, all the promises of God, and gathered them into the one emphatic summary, the “promise of eternal life,” you are not to say, “This clause of the promise was made to Adam, this to Moses, this to David, this to Paul”; you are to say, generally, of the whole, with the apostle in our text, that “God, which cannot lie, promised it”--and to whom could He then promise but to Christ?--“promised it before the world began.” Now we have been so occupied with the great doctrine of our text, with the fact of all God’s promises being promised to Christ, and to us only for the sake of Christ, and in virtue of His merits, that we have made no reference to what St. Paul here says of God’s truthfulness--“God, that cannot lie.” He uses a similar expression in his Epistle to the Hebrews: “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation.” It is one of Satan’s most frequent and dangerous devices, to put before you your unworthiness, and to strive to make this hide the rich provisions of grace. It looks so like genuine humility, to think oneself unworthy to have a promise made good, that the Christian will almost fancy it a duty to encourage the suspicion which the devil has injected. But you are to remember that your own unworthiness has nothing whatsoever to do either with the making or the performing the promise. God did not originally make the promise to you; He made it to His own dear Son, even to Christ, “before the world began”; and the performing the promise, the making good His own Word, is this to be contingent on anything excellent in yourselves? Nay, it is for His own sake, for the glory of His own great name, that He accomplishes His gracious declaration. He is faithful, He “cannot lie”; heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot nor one tittle can fail of all which He hath covenanted with Christ, and, through Christ, with the meanest of His followers. (H. Melvill, B. D.)


Verse 3

Titus 1:3

But hath in due times manifested His Word through preaching

A timely revelation

I.
A timely revelation--the purpose of salvation through Christ Jesus.

II. A sacred trust--to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

III. A divine commission--to preach “according to the commandment of God.” (F. Wagstaff.)

Salvation revealed

I. That salvation is more clearly revealed than in former ages appeareth in that all the time of the law was but the infancy and nonage of the Church, which then was as a child under tutors and governors; and as a child was initiated in rudiments and elements of Christian religion, and endued with a small measure of knowledge and faith, because the time was not come wherein the mysteries of Christ were unfolded.

II. The Lord (who doth not only by His wisdom order His greatest works, but every circumstance of them) effecteth all His promises and purposes in the due season of them.

III. The manifestation of salvation is to be sought for in the preaching of the Word. Which point is plain, in that the preaching of the Word is an ordinance of God.

1. To make Christ known, in whose name alone salvation is to be had.

2. To beget and confirm faith in the heart, by which alone, as by an hand, we apprehend and apply Him with His merits to our salvation. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

God’s Word manifested through preaching

I. The manifestation of god’s word. This was gradually made to men--to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles--in general, and to particular places.

II. The instrumentality employed for that manifestation. We should imitate the simplicity, zeal and affection displayed in the apostle’s preaching. (W. Lucy.)

Preaching in God’s name

An American gentleman once went to hear Whitefield for the first lime, in consequence of the report he heard of his preaching powers. The day was rainy, the congregation comparatively thin, and the beginning of the sermon rather heavy. Our American friend began to say to himself, “This man is no great wonder, after all.” He looked round, and saw the congregation as little interested as himself. One old man in front of the pulpit had fallen asleep. But all at once Whitefield stopped short. His countenance changed. And then he suddenly broke forth in an altered tone: “If I had come to speak to you in my own name, you might well rest your elbows on your knees, and your heads on your hands, and sleep; and once in a while look up, and say, What is this babbler talking of? But I have not come to you in my own name. No! I have come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts” (here he brought down his hand and foot with a force that made the building ring), “and I must, and will be heard.” The congregation started. The old man woke up at once. “Ay, ay!” cried Whitefield, fixing his eyes on him, “I have waked you up, have I? I meant to do it. I am not come here to preach to stocks and stones. I have come to you in the name of the Lord God of Bests, and I must, and will, have an audience.” The hearers were stripped of their apathy at once. Every word of the sermon was attended to. And the American gentleman never forgot it. (J. G. Ryle.)

The best ally in Christian work

Frederick the Great was once in company with a number of French wits, and there was a brave Scotchman also at the table, who was the ambassador of England. Frederick the Great was then contemplating a war, in which he would be dependent upon English subsidies, and by and by the ambassador, as he listened to the king and these French wits making fun of religion, and speaking of its certain and sudden decay, said, “By the help of God England will stand by Prussia in the war.” Frederick turned round and said, rather sneeringly, “By the help of God! I did not know that you bad an ally of that name.” But the Scotchman turned round to the king, and said, “May it please your majesty, that is the only ally England has to whom England does not send subsidies.” Now, let me say, that we as a Christian Church and as a missionary society have an ally of that name. Our ally is the Lord of Hosts, and it is because His name has been upon our banners that we have succeeded in the past. (T. H. Hunt.)

Which is committed unto me, according to the commandment of God our Saviour

The Christian ministry

I. Every minister called by God is one of Christ’s committees, unto whom He betrusteth now after His departure the care and oversight of His spouse, who is dearer unto Him than His own life, appeareth in that they are called stewards of this great house, having received the keys to open the kingdom of heaven, and to distribute to the necessity of their fellow servants; chosen vessels, as Paul, not to contain, but to carry the pearl and the treasure of the kingdom; feeders, as Peter, husband men, to whom the vineyard is let out till His return.

1. The honour of a minister is faithfulness in the diligent and careful discharging himself of that trust committed unto him; the principal part of which repose standeth in the faithful dispensing of Christ’s legacies to His Church, according to His own testament; which as it is his duty enjoined (1 Corinthians 4:2), so is it his crown, his joy, his glory, that by his faithful pains he hath procured the welfare of his people, and bringeth with it a great recompense of reward; for if he that showeth himself a good and faithful servant in little things, shall be ruler over much; what may he expect that is faithful in the greatest?

2. The ministry is no calling of ease, but a matter of great charge; nor contemptible, as many contemptuous persons think it too base a calling for their children; but honourable, near unto God, a calling committing unto men great matters, which not only the angels themselves have dispensed sundry times, but even the Lord of the angels, Jesus Christ Himself, all the while lie ministered upon earth; the honour of which calling is such, as those who are employed in the duties of it, are called not only angels, but coworkers with Christ in the salvation of men.

II. Whosoever would find comfort in themselves, or clear and justify their callings to others, or do good in that place of the body wherein they are set, must be able to prove that they are not intruders, but pressed by this calling and commandment of god: that as Paul performed every duty in the Church by virtue of his extraordinary calling, so they by virtue of their ordinary. For can any man think that a small advantage to himself, which our apostle doth so dwell upon in his own person, and that in every epistle, making his calling known to be committed unto him, not of men, nor by men, but by Jesus Christ? (See Galatians 1:1; Galatians 2:7; Ephesians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4)

1. Let no man presume to take upon him any office in the Church uncalled; no man taketh this honour to himself. Christ Himself must he appointed of His Father.

2. Let none content himself with the calling of man separated from God’s calling; for this was the guise of the false apostles against whom our apostle opposeth himself and calling almost everywhere, who were called of men, but not of God.

3. In all other callings let men be assured they have God’s warrant, both in the lawfulness of the callings themselves, and in their holy exercise of them; passing through them daily in the exercise of faith and repentance, not forgetting daily to sanctify them by the Word and prayer.

III. Ministers may and ought to be more or less in the commendation of their calling, as the nature and necessity of the people to whom they write or speak do require.

1. As the apostle here magnifieth his authority in that he is a servant of God.

2. An apostle of Jesus Christ,

3. That he received his apostleship by commission and commandment of Christ Himself; and

4. All this while hath by sundry other arguments amplified the excellency of his calling: the reason of all which is not so much to persuade Titus, who was before sufficiently persuaded of it; but partly for the Cretians’ sake, that they might the rather entertain this doctrine so commended in the person of the bringer; and partly because many in this isle lifted up themselves against him and Titus, as men thrusting in their sickles into other men’s fields too busily; or else if they had a calling, yet taking too much upon them, both in correcting disorders and establishing such novelties among them as best liked them; so as here being to deal against false apostles, perverse people, and erroneous doctrines he is more prolix and lofty in his title; otherwise, where he met not with such strong opposition, he is more sparing in his titles, as in the Epistles to the Colossians, Thessalonians, etc. (T. Taylor, D. D.)


Verse 4

Titus 1:4

To Titus, mine own son after the common faith

Lessons

I.
A spiritual relationship (Cf. Acts 15:1-41; Galatians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6, etc.)

II. A threefold blessing.

1. “Grace,” the source of our redemption.

2. “Mercy,” displayed in our redemption.

3. “Peace,” the result of our redemption.

III. The source and medium of the blessing. God the Father from whom it comes, and Christ the Son through whom it comes. (F. Wagstaff.)

Spiritual parentage

I. That ministers are spiritual fathers to beget children to god, appeareth in that the Hebrew phrase not only styleth them by the name of fathers.

1. Who indeed are so properly by the way of blood and natural generation?

2. Neither, only those who are in a right descending line, though never so far off.

3. Neither, only those who adopt others into the room and place of children.

4. But those also that are in the room of fathers, either generally, as all superiors, in age, place, or gifts; or more specially such as by whose counsel, wisdom, tenderness and care, we are directed as by fathers; who in these offices and not in themselves (for sometimes they be inferiors otherwise) become fathers unto us.

Thus was Joseph an inferior, called a father of Pharaoh; that is, a counsellor. Job, for his tenderness and care, called a father of the poor. Scholars of the prophets, called sons of the prophets. Elisha, saith of Elijah, my father, my father; and Jubal was the father of all that play on harps. But much more properly is the minister called the father of such as he converts unto the faith, because they beget men unto God, as Paul did Onesimus in his bonds, in which regeneration the seed is that heavenly grace whereby a Divine nature is framed, the instrument by which it is conveyed, is the Word of God in the ministry of it. Now if any be desirous to carry themselves towards their ministers, as children towards their parents, they must perform unto them these duties.

1. They must give them double honour (1 Timothy 5:17), reverencing their persons, their places.

2. They must partake in all their goods, as the Levites in the law did; yea, if need be, lay down their necks for their sakes (Romans 16:4) in way of thankfulness.

3. No accusations must be received against them under two or three witnesses; a dutiful child will not hear, much less believe, evil reports of his father.

4. In doubtful cases of conscience resort unto them for counsel, as children to their father.

5. Obey them in all godly precepts, endure their severity, be guided by their godly directions, as those who have the oversight of souls committed unto them, even as the child ingeniously imitateth and obeyeth his father.

II. Faith is one and the same in all the elect, and is therefore called the common faith (Ephesians 4:5), there is one faith which is true. Which grace is but one, and common to all the elect, notwithstanding there be diverse measures and degrees of it peculiar to some. Hence the apostle Peter calleth it the like precious faith.

1. In respect of the kind of it being a justifying faith, by which all that believe have power to be the sons of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26).

2. Of the object of it, which is one Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever; who dwelleth in the hearts of every believer (Ephesians 3:17), whom, although the fathers of former ages beheld Him to come, and the latter ages already come: yet both rejoice in seeing His day with the same eye of faith: the difference is, that one seeth it somewhat more clearly than the other.

3. Of the same end of it, which is salvation, common to all believers; called therefore by Jude the common salvation. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Spiritual children

Calvin’s three children all died in infancy. Of the last he wrote to a friend: “The Lord gave me another son, and the Lord hath taken him away; but have I not thousands of children in the faith of Christ?”

Grace, mercy, and peace

Grace bringing peace

I. The grace of god is the whole sufficiency of his people. The first, middle, and last cause of every good thing conveyed unto them, or issuing from them: not once did the Lord enforce this point upon His own people, teaching them by things temporal, their spiritual estate and condition (Deuteronomy 7:7).

II. Only they that are by grace and mercy accepted of god have their portion in this peace here mentioned.

1. Peace, that is all kind of prosperity, is promised only to the godly. They shall prosper in everything; and the apostle pronounceth it, only upon the Israel of God.

2. It is accordingly bestowed upon those only that are justified by faith; seeing they only have peace with God, which is the principal part of it.

3. To show it to be a fruit of God’s grace, sundry phrases in Scripture might be alleged; as that it is called the “peace of God,” and that God is called the “God of peace”; as also that difference which is worthy to be observed between the salutations of the Old and New Testament. In, the Old Testament, grace and peace are never joined. The ordinary form of salutation was, “peace be with thee,” “peace be to this house,” “go in peace”; but the apostles, after the mystery of redemption was revealed and perfected before the ordinary salutation, prefix this word--grace, or mercy, or both; that as they are never joined in the Old Testament, so are they never separated in the New, to show that we cannot look to have one of them alone, or separate them, no more than we can safely sunder the branch from the root, or the stream from the fountain. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Peace through Christ

A minister was asked to visit a poor dying woman. The messenger being ignorant could give no account of her state, except that she was a very good woman and very happy, and was now at the end of a well-spent life, therefore sure of going to heaven. The minister went, saw that she was very ill, and after a few kindly inquiries about her bodily condition, said: “Well, I understand you are in a very peaceful state of mind, depending upon a well-spent life.” The dying woman looked hard at him, and said: “Yes, I am in the enjoyment of peace. You are quite right; sweet peace, and that from a well-spent life. But it is the well-spent life of Jesus; not my doing, but His; not my merits, but His blood.” Yes; only one man has spent a life that has met all the requirements of God’s holy law, and on which we rest before God. (Preachers Lantern.)


Verse 4

Titus 1:4

To Titus, mine own son after the common faith

Lessons

I.
A spiritual relationship (Cf. Acts 15:1-41; Galatians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6, etc.)

II. A threefold blessing.

1. “Grace,” the source of our redemption.

2. “Mercy,” displayed in our redemption.

3. “Peace,” the result of our redemption.

III. The source and medium of the blessing. God the Father from whom it comes, and Christ the Son through whom it comes. (F. Wagstaff.)

Spiritual parentage

I. That ministers are spiritual fathers to beget children to god, appeareth in that the Hebrew phrase not only styleth them by the name of fathers.

1. Who indeed are so properly by the way of blood and natural generation?

2. Neither, only those who are in a right descending line, though never so far off.

3. Neither, only those who adopt others into the room and place of children.

4. But those also that are in the room of fathers, either generally, as all superiors, in age, place, or gifts; or more specially such as by whose counsel, wisdom, tenderness and care, we are directed as by fathers; who in these offices and not in themselves (for sometimes they be inferiors otherwise) become fathers unto us.

Thus was Joseph an inferior, called a father of Pharaoh; that is, a counsellor. Job, for his tenderness and care, called a father of the poor. Scholars of the prophets, called sons of the prophets. Elisha, saith of Elijah, my father, my father; and Jubal was the father of all that play on harps. But much more properly is the minister called the father of such as he converts unto the faith, because they beget men unto God, as Paul did Onesimus in his bonds, in which regeneration the seed is that heavenly grace whereby a Divine nature is framed, the instrument by which it is conveyed, is the Word of God in the ministry of it. Now if any be desirous to carry themselves towards their ministers, as children towards their parents, they must perform unto them these duties.

1. They must give them double honour (1 Timothy 5:17), reverencing their persons, their places.

2. They must partake in all their goods, as the Levites in the law did; yea, if need be, lay down their necks for their sakes (Romans 16:4) in way of thankfulness.

3. No accusations must be received against them under two or three witnesses; a dutiful child will not hear, much less believe, evil reports of his father.

4. In doubtful cases of conscience resort unto them for counsel, as children to their father.

5. Obey them in all godly precepts, endure their severity, be guided by their godly directions, as those who have the oversight of souls committed unto them, even as the child ingeniously imitateth and obeyeth his father.

II. Faith is one and the same in all the elect, and is therefore called the common faith (Ephesians 4:5), there is one faith which is true. Which grace is but one, and common to all the elect, notwithstanding there be diverse measures and degrees of it peculiar to some. Hence the apostle Peter calleth it the like precious faith.

1. In respect of the kind of it being a justifying faith, by which all that believe have power to be the sons of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26).

2. Of the object of it, which is one Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever; who dwelleth in the hearts of every believer (Ephesians 3:17), whom, although the fathers of former ages beheld Him to come, and the latter ages already come: yet both rejoice in seeing His day with the same eye of faith: the difference is, that one seeth it somewhat more clearly than the other.

3. Of the same end of it, which is salvation, common to all believers; called therefore by Jude the common salvation. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Spiritual children

Calvin’s three children all died in infancy. Of the last he wrote to a friend: “The Lord gave me another son, and the Lord hath taken him away; but have I not thousands of children in the faith of Christ?”

Grace, mercy, and peace

Grace bringing peace

I. The grace of god is the whole sufficiency of his people. The first, middle, and last cause of every good thing conveyed unto them, or issuing from them: not once did the Lord enforce this point upon His own people, teaching them by things temporal, their spiritual estate and condition (Deuteronomy 7:7).

II. Only they that are by grace and mercy accepted of god have their portion in this peace here mentioned.

1. Peace, that is all kind of prosperity, is promised only to the godly. They shall prosper in everything; and the apostle pronounceth it, only upon the Israel of God.

2. It is accordingly bestowed upon those only that are justified by faith; seeing they only have peace with God, which is the principal part of it.

3. To show it to be a fruit of God’s grace, sundry phrases in Scripture might be alleged; as that it is called the “peace of God,” and that God is called the “God of peace”; as also that difference which is worthy to be observed between the salutations of the Old and New Testament. In, the Old Testament, grace and peace are never joined. The ordinary form of salutation was, “peace be with thee,” “peace be to this house,” “go in peace”; but the apostles, after the mystery of redemption was revealed and perfected before the ordinary salutation, prefix this word--grace, or mercy, or both; that as they are never joined in the Old Testament, so are they never separated in the New, to show that we cannot look to have one of them alone, or separate them, no more than we can safely sunder the branch from the root, or the stream from the fountain. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Peace through Christ

A minister was asked to visit a poor dying woman. The messenger being ignorant could give no account of her state, except that she was a very good woman and very happy, and was now at the end of a well-spent life, therefore sure of going to heaven. The minister went, saw that she was very ill, and after a few kindly inquiries about her bodily condition, said: “Well, I understand you are in a very peaceful state of mind, depending upon a well-spent life.” The dying woman looked hard at him, and said: “Yes, I am in the enjoyment of peace. You are quite right; sweet peace, and that from a well-spent life. But it is the well-spent life of Jesus; not my doing, but His; not my merits, but His blood.” Yes; only one man has spent a life that has met all the requirements of God’s holy law, and on which we rest before God. (Preachers Lantern.)


Verse 5

Titus 1:5

Set in order the things that are wanting

Church order

I.
In every christian community there should be the maintenance of order. Confusion in a Church is a calumny of Christ, and obstructive at once to its peace, power, prosperity, and usefulness.

II. The maintenance of church order may require the ministry of special superintendents. The words elder, bishop, pastor, etc., all refer to the same office--that of overseer. Such a one is to maintain order, not by legislating but by loving; not by the assumption of authority, but by a humble devotion to the spiritual interests of all.

III. The superintendents should be men of distinguished excellence. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Perfecting the order of the Church

1. It noteth what was the special work of an evangelist; namely, that being the companions of the apostles, they were to bring on the work of the Lord to perfection, both by establishing that foundation they had laid, and building on further by their direction where they left off. The office was middle between the apostle and the pastor: the calling was immediate from the apostles, as the apostle was immediate from Christ.

2. Notwithstanding many defects and wants in this Church and those great ones, and that in constitution, for we see their cities were destitute of elders and Church governors; yet was it neither neglected by Paul, nor separated from by Titus as a cage of unclean birds; teaching us not presently to condemn a number and society of men (much less of Churches) for want of some laws or government (for no Church is not wanting in some), if they join together in the profession of truth of doctrine and worship; for so many of the Churches, planted by the apostles themselves, might have been refused for wanting some offices for a time, although they were after supplied.

3. We learn hence, that no Church is hastily brought to any perfection. The apostles themselves, the master builders, with much wisdom and labour, and often in long time, made not such proceedings; but that, had they mot provided labourers to follow them with a diligent hand, all had been lost. Much ado had they to lay the foundation, and prepare matter for the building; and yet this they did, by converting men to the faith and baptizing them; but after this to join them into a public profession of the faith, and constitute visible faces of Churches among them, required more help and labour, and for most part was left to the evangelists. So as the building of God’s house is not unlike to the finishing of other great buildings, with what labour are stones digged out of the earth? with what difficulty depart they from their natural roughness? what sweat and strength is spent ere the mason can smooth them? As it is also with the timber; and yet, after all this, they lie a long time here and there scattered asunder and make no house, till, by the skill of some cunning builder, they be aptly laid, and fastened together in their frame. So every man’s heart, in the natural roughness of it, is as hard as a stone; his will and affections, like the crabbed and knotty oaks, invincibly resisting all the pains of God’s masons and carpenters, till the finger of God in the ministry come and make plain, and smooth way, working in their conversion. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Titus left in Crete

I. The power left to titus. “I left thee”--I, Paul, an apostle of Christ.

II. The use and exercise of this power.

1. To set in order things that are wanting.

2. To ordain elders in every city.

III. The limitation of these acts. “As I had appointed thee.” Titus must do nothing but according to commission, and by special direction. (W. Burkitt, M. A.)

Ministers as moral leaders

I. That ministers have special work as well as general. Ii. That the work of the best of us needs revision by others. “Set in order,” lit., “revise, make straight.”

III. That every company of christians should have a leader or overseer. “Elders in every city,” is suggestive of the widespread influence of the gospel in Crete, which was famous for its cities. Homer, in one place mentions, that the island had a hundred cities, and in another ninety. (F. Wagstaff.)

Ordain elders in every city

An embertide sermon

Our Lord Himself is the sole source and origin of all ministerial power. He is the Head of the Church--none can take office in the Church except with His authorisation; He is our great High Priest--none can serve under Him, unless by His appointment; He is our King--none can bear rule in His kingdom, except they hold His commission. This ministerial power our Lord conferred upon His apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles and other parts of the New Testament, we learn how the apostles carried out this commission. Their first act after the Ascension was to admit another to their own ranks. St. Matthias was co-opted into the room of the traitor Judas. After a time the needs of the growing Church required them to appoint subordinate officers, they themselves still retaining the supreme control. These officers were, in the first place, deacons, whose special duty it was to attend to the due distribution of the Church’s alms, but who also, as we learn from the subsequent history of two of them, SS. Stephen and Philip, received authority to preach and to baptize; and in the second place, elders who were appointed to still higher functions, to be pastors of congregations, to feed the flock of God and have the oversight thereof. We read of the elders first in Acts 11:30. The word “elder,” wherever it occur in the New Testament, is a translation of the Greek word “presbuteros,” from which our words “presbyter” and “priest” have come, the latter by contraction. If the word had been left untranslated, as the words “bishop,” “deacon,” and “apostle” were, and appeared as “presbyter” or “priest,” the English reader would have been saved from much perplexity, and much danger of erroneous inferences. Thus the apostles, in order to keep pace with the requirements of the Church, shared, by degrees, their functions with others, admitted others by prayer and the laying on of hands into the sacred ministry. But one prerogative they still retained in their own keeping, that was, the power of ordaining others. Yet if the Church was to be continued, if the promise of Christ was to be fulfilled, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” this power also must be transmitted. And so we find that the college of apostles was gradually enlarged. One there was, St. Paul, who had received the apostolate, with all its prerogatives, directly from heaven. Others, such as St. Barnabas, were also admitted to the apostolic ranks and placed on an equal footing with the original Twelve. And, finally, in the Pastoral Epistles we come to the last link of the chain which connects the apostolic rule of the Church with the episcopal superintendence which followed. As the apostles travelled through the whole known world, and established Churches and ordained clergy in every city to which they came, they found at last that the oversight of all these Christians of whom they were the spiritual fathers had become too much for them. It was felt to be a necessity to place over each Church a local superintendent, who, within a fixed district, should be armed with full apostolical authority--with power to rule the Church, to administer discipline, to ordain clergy. When we open the Pastoral Epistles we find that it was to just such an office that SS. Timothy and Titus were appointed. And history informs us that immediately after the apostles’ times the Christian Church in all parts of the world was governed by bishops, who claimed to be successors of the apostles, and who alone bad the power to ordain, with priests and deacons under them. Why the bishops did not retain for themselves the name of apostles we know not; but probably they thought themselves unworthy to share that title with such eminent saints as those who had been called by Christ to be His original apostles, and therefore they adopted a designation which had less august associations attached to it, having formerly been borne by clergy of the second order. For more than 1,500 years no other form of Church government was known in any part of Christendom. Turn where we will, north or south, east or west, or take any period of history previous to the Reformation, and we can discover no portion of the Church which was not governed by bishops, or where there were not these three orders of ministers. By the good providence of God, in the great crisis of the sixteenth century, we were permitted to retain the ancient organisation of the Christian Church. The Reformation in these islands was the act of the Church itself, which, while it rejected the usurped supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, and returned in other respects to the purer faith of primitive times, carefully maintained unimpaired the three Orders of the Ministry. There was no severing of the link which bound us to the men to whom the Great Head of the Church said, “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” What abundant reason have we, clergy and people alike, to be thankful to God for this! We clergy can go about our work with no misgivings as to whether we are indeed ambassadors for Christ or no. We know that in all our ministerial acts He is with us, that He indeed is acting through us, and that our feeble, unworthy efforts to advance His kingdom and glory are backed and supported by an infinite Power which can turn our weakness into strength. And the people, too, should bless and thank God that, through His great goodness towards them, the sixteenth century proved in these islands a true Reformation in religion--not a Revolution, as it did elsewhere; that you belong to the very Church founded by the apostles, and that Church, too, released from medieval corruption, and saved from those debasing modern superstitions into which Roman Christianity has fallen; that you have free access to the means of grace which Christ appointed for His people; that the Sacraments which are generally necessary to salvation are here duly ministered according to God’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite for the same; that you have a ministry which can speak to you in Christ’s name, and hear to you His message of reconciliation; for they have been set apart to their office by Himself--by Him to whom alone all power has been committed in heaven and in earth; that you are “fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” On a valid ministry depends the very existence of a Church. On a faithful ministry depends the well-being of a Church. And how largely does the character of the ministry depends upon the people? How largely is it in the power of the people to assist the bishop in making a choice of fit persons for Holy Orders? I am not now alluding to the direct power the people possess to prevent the ordination of an unworthy man. It is for this express purpose that the Si quis, as it is called, of the candidate is appointed to be read in the parish church previous to the ordination. The name of the candidate is published, and the people are invited to object if they can allege any impediment. And another opportunity of the same kind is given at the ordination itself. I am now alluding specially to your prayers. “Brethren, pray for us,” was the earnest request of St. Paul to the Christians of his day, and surely the successors of the apostles now need no less the prayers and sympathy of their people. (J. G. Carleton, B. D.)

Directions regarding the appointment of elders

1. It is Titus himself who is to appoint these elders throughout the cities in which congregations exist. It is not the congregations that are to elect the overseers, subject to the approval of the apostle’s delegate; still less that he is to ordain any one whom they may elect. The full responsibility of each appointment rests with him. Anything like popular election of the ministers is not only not suggested, it is by implication entirely excluded.

2. In making each appointment Titus is to consider the congregation. He is to look carefully to the reputation which the man of his choice bears among his fellow Christians. A man in whom the congregation have no confidence, because of the bad repute which attaches to himself or his family, is not to be appointed. In this way the congregation have an indirect veto; for the man to whom they cannot give a good character may not be taken to be set over them.

3. The appointment of Church officers is regarded as imperative: it is on no account to be omitted. And it is not merely an arrangement that is as a rule desirable: it is to be universal. Titus is to go through the congregations “city by city,” and take care that each has its elders or body of elders.

4. As the name itself indicates, these elders are to be taken from the older men among the believers. As a rule they are to be heads of families, who have had experience of life in its manifold relations, and especially who have had experience of ruling a Christian household. That will be some guarantee for their capacity for ruling a Christian congregation.

5. It must be remembered that they are not merely delegates, either of Titus, or of the congregation. The essence of their authority is not that they are the representatives of the body of Christian men and women over whom they are placed. It has a far higher origin. They are “God’s stewards.” It is His household that they direct and administer, and it is from Him that their powers are derived. As God’s agents they have a work to do among their fellow men, through themselves, for Him. As God’s ambassadors they have a message to deliver, good tidings to proclaim, ever the same, and yet ever new. As “God’s stewards” they have treasures to guard with reverent care, treasures to augment by diligent cultivation, treasures to distribute with prudent liberality. (A. Plummer, D. D.)


Verses 5-7

Verse 6

Titus 1:6

If any be blameless

Lessons

I.
Character, the primary qualification for office is the church.

II. Domestic and social relationships, conducive, rather than hindrances, to christian service.

III. Good family government, a guarantee for church government. (F. Wagstaff.)

A man of scandalous life is unfit to be a minister

1. Our apostle here first insisteth upon the life of him that is to be chosen, and afterwards requireth his fitness for doctrine: and so in his charge to Timothy that he should lay hand on no man rashly, addeth, that some men’s sins go beforehand, and some men’s sins follow after judgment: as though he had said more largely, Use all the circumspection thou canst, yet some hypocrites will creep into the ministry. Some are inwardly profane, and such close sinners thou canst not discern, till afterward they manifest themselves. Others are open sinners, of which thou mayest judge aright; these latter thou art to hinder, the former reclaim, or seasonably remove, and so salve up the sore again: for how requisite is it that such a sweet and favourite doctrine should be matched with a sweet and savoury Christian conversation!

2. That such an high calling is to be graced with an unreprovable life was typified in the law sundry ways, as after we shall more clearly see in the positive virtues required, especially in that prohibition that none of Aaron’s sons, or seed, that had any blemish in him, might once press to offer before the Lord, neither come near the vail, nor stand by the altar.

3. A scandalous and obnoxious person shall never do good in his calling. For although the things of Christ, as the Word, sacraments, and doctrine, depend not upon the person of the minister, but on the ordinance of Christ, neither in themselves are the worse in bad men’s hands, no more than a true man’s piece of gold in the hands of a thief; yet by our weakness, in such a man’s hand, they are weaker to us: and although no man can answer or warrant the refusing of pure doctrine (which is not to be had in respect of persons) for the spotted life of the minister, who, while he sitteth in Moses’s chair (be he Pharisee, be he hypocrite) must be heard, yet can it not be but that the wickedness of Eli’s sons will make the people abhor the offerings of the Lord, which what a grievous sin it was before the Lord (see 1 Samuel 2:17). Again, how can he benefit his people whose hands are bound, whose mouth is shut, and cannot utter the truth without continual galling and sentencing of himself? and when every scoffer shall be ready to say to him, “Art thou become weak like one of us?” and the word shall be still returned upon himself, how can it be expected that he should do good amongst them?

4. It is a most dangerous condition to himself to be a good teacher of a bad life, for such a one is in the snare of the devil, that is, when he seeth his life still more and more exprobrated, and himself more despised every day than other (for it is just with God that with the wicked should be reproach), then he begins to grow so bold and impudent, as that he casts off all shame and care, and as one desperate and hardened in sin, prostituteth himself remorselessly unto all lewdness and ungodly conversation. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Rules to keep a man unreprovable

1. Labour with thy heart to see itself still in the presence of God, and this wilt be a means to keep it in order; whores otherwise an unruly heart will break out one time or other.

2. Have a care of a good name, as well as a good conscience; not so much for thy own as for God’s glory: neither because thyself, but ethers stand much upon it.

3. Avoid occasions of sins, appearances of evil, seeing thy motes become beams.

4. Study to do thy own duty diligently, meddle not with other men’s matters.

5. Curb and cover thine own infirmities, buffet thy body, and bring it in subjection (1 Corinthians 9:1-27).

6. Daily pray for thyself, with a desire of the prayer and admonition of others. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Importance of good ministerial character

Personal character is of the utmost moment in the work of admonition. We must not try to remove motes from the eyes of others while we have beams in our own. Quarles reminds us that “He who cleanses a blot with blurred fingers, makes a greater blot. Even the candle snuffers of the sanctuary were of pure gold” (Exodus 37:23). We may not urge others to activity, and lie still like logs ourselves. A quaint old preacher of the sixteenth century has put this truth into homely, pungent words: “Beloved in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, it is a very monstrous thing that any man should have more tongues than hands. For God hath given us two hands and but one tongue, that we might do much and say but little. Yet many say so much and do so little, as though they had two tongues and but one hand; nay, three tongues and never a hand. Such as these (which do either worse than they teach, or else less than they teach, teaching others to do well and to do much, but doing no whir themselves) may be resembled to divers things. To a whetstone, which being blunt itself, makes a knife sharp. To a painter, which being deformed himself, makes a fair picture. To a sign, which being weather beaten, and hanging without itself, directs passengers into the inn. To a bell, which being deaf and hearing not itself, calls the people into the church to hear. To a goldsmith, which being beggarly, and having not one piece of plate to use himself, hath stores for others which he shows and sells in his shop. Lastly, to a ridiculous actor in the city of Smyrna, who pronouncing ‘O coelum,’ O heaven, pointed with his finger toward the ground. Such are all they which talk one thing and do another; which teach well and do ill.” (C.H. Spurgeon.)

The secret of a blameless life

Archbishop Beusou, speaking after Earl Granville had unveiled the memorial to his predecessor, adorned the occasion by a reference to the secret of the beautiful life of the late Archbishop Tate. “I have heard,” he said, “and I believe it is true, that on the first day of his wedded life he and his bride pledged themselves to each other that they would never quarrel with any one, and I believe that, with God’s blessing and help, that pledge was kept to the end.” Husband of one wife:--In the corrupt facility of divorce allowed both by Greek and Roman law, it was very common for man and wife to separate, and marry other parties during the life of each other. Thus, a man might have three or four living wives, or women who had successively been his wives. An example of this may be found in the English colony of Mauritius, where the French revolutionary law of divorce had been left unrepealed by the English Government; and it is not uncommon to meet in society three or four women who have all been wives of one man, and three or four men who have all been husbands of one woman. Thus, successive rather than simultaneous polygamy is perhaps forbidden here, (Conybeare and Howson.)

The husband of one wife

The family arrangements in the Isle of Crete were the result of heathenism, and, of course, polygamy had prevailed. Many believers had several wives, as is often the case in heathenism at the present time, and one of the most difficult questions of modern missions is how to treat such cases. When a man and his two wives, for example, all at the same time become Christians, and demand baptism and the Lord’s supper, what am I to do? There is no passage that I know of in the Word of God to guide me in the matter; and I am left to the general rules of Scripture, to the dictates of wisdom and prudence, and to the leadings of Divine Providence. If, however, such a man wished to become an elder, I would say, No, for a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, and not of two wives, according to the decision of the apostle Paul (W. Graham, D. D.)


Verses 7-9

Titus 1:7-9

Yet a bishop must be blameless

An ideal bishop

I will try in five words to set before you the ideal of a bishop: humility, self-sacrifice, simplicity of heart, undaunted courage, moral faithfulness.
Of holiness and of diligence I need hardly speak--no bishop could ever imagine himself to be a true bishop without these; but glance for a moment at the others, for they go to the very root of the matter.

1. First, utter humility--“not lording it over God’s heritage,” etc., Pride is a sin foolish and hateful enough in any man, but it seems doubly so in a bishop. How instructive is that story of Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury. When he summoned the other bishops to meet him, they asked a holy hermit of Bangor how they might know whether Augustine was or was not a man of God, and he answered that they might follow him if they found him to be of a meek and humble heart, for that was the yoke of Christ; but if he bore himself haughtily they should not regard him, for then he was certainly not of God. They took his advice, and hastened to the place of meeting, and when Augustine neither rose to meet them nor received them in any brotherly sort, but sat all the while pontifical in the chair, they would not acknowledge him or denote that they owed him any obedience but that of love. One of the noblest men the Church has ever seen--St. Thomas Aquinas--was also one of the most truly humble. Once a celebrated cardinal was seen passing to the high altar of his cathedral in scarlet robes and jewelled pectoral, in the midst of magnificent ecclesiastics; but one who knelt behind him, seeing a little stream of blood trickling where he knelt, observed that under the sweeping silken robes the great cardinal had been walking with bare feet over the flinty path, that his heart might be mortified amid the splendour of his state. Deep humility within--a violet which scarcely ever grows except at the foot of the cross--should be the mark of a true bishop.

2. Nor is utter self-sacrifice less necessary. If pride is detestable in a bishop, greed is no less so. The bishop who uses the revenues of his church to enrich his family, is false to one of the first duties of his post. The brother of the Bishop of Lincoln, in the twelfth century, complained that he was still left a ploughman. “Brother,” said the great bishop, “if your cow dies, I will give you another, and if your plough wants mending I will have it mended; but a ploughman I found you, and a ploughman I mean to leave you.” The income of the see should be spent upon the see. Poverty is never so honourable as in men who might be rich. When Archbishop Warren, Cranmer’s predecessor, was told on his deathbed that he had only thirty pounds in the world, he answered with a smile, “Enough to pay my journey to heaven.”

3. Simplicity of heart. None but small and unworthy men would lose by it. Neither pomp, nor wealth, nor office--prizes of accident as oft as merit--ever made any small man great. Once I was staying as a boy in a bishop’s house, and there was dug up the brass plate from the tomb of one of his predecessors, and I have never forgotten the inscription on it: “Stay, passer by! See and smile at the palace of a bishop. The grave is the palace they must all dwell in soon!”

4. Unbounded courage. Scorn of mere passing popularity should be among his first qualities. When that persecuting emperor, Valens, sent his prefect to threaten St. Basil, and was met by a flat refusal of his demands, the prefect started from his seat and exclaimed, “Do you not fear my power?” “Why should I?” answered Basil. “What can happen to me?” “Confiscation,” replied the prefect, “punishment, torture, death.” “Is that all?” said Basil. “He who has nothing beyond my few books and these threadbare robes is not liable to confiscation. Punishment! How can I be punished when God is everywhere? Torture!--torture can only harm me for a moment; and death--death is a benefactor, for it will send me the sooner to Him whom I love and serve.” “No one has ever addressed me so,” said the prefect. “Perhaps,” answered Basil, “you never met a true bishop before.” You may think that bishops in these days have no need for such courage. They will not have to face kings and rulers, I dare say; but I wish all had the bolder and rarer courage to face the false world; to tell the truth to lying partisans, religious and other; to confront the wild and brutal ignorance of public opinion; to despise the soft flatteries of an easy popularity; to know by experience that Christ meant something when He said, “Blessed are ye when all men revile you for My name’s sake.”

5. Again, I ask, are bishops never called upon by their duty to exceptional moral faithfulness--to be, as it were, the embodied conscience of the Christian Church before the world? That was the splendid example set by St. Ambrose. Theodosius was a great, and in many respects a good, emperor; but in a fierce outburst of passion he had led his soldiers into the amphitheatre of Thessalonica, and had slain some five or six thousand human beings, the innocent no less than the guilty, in indiscriminate massacre. Courtiers said nothing; the world said nothing; civil rulers said nothing; then it was that St. Ambrose stood forth like the incarnate conscience of mankind. For eight months he excluded the emperor from the cathedral, and when he came at Christmastide to the Communion, he met him at the door, and, in spite of purple and diadem and praetorian guards, forbad him to enter till he had laid aside the insignia of a guilty royalty, and, prostrate with tears, upon the pavement, had performed a penance as public as his crime. (Archdeacon Farrar.)

Qualifications for the eldership

St. Paul had never shown himself indifferent to the local organisation of each little community which he founded. On his very earliest missionary tour, he and Barnabas had ordained presbyters over the Gentile Churches at Derbe, at Lystra, at Iconium, and at Pisidian Antioch. It seems likely that, as he grew older and realised how soon both he and the other temporary chiefs of the new society must be withdrawn, he only came to feel more strongly than at first the importance of providing for its permanent administration through stationary office bearers who could be continually replaced. Such a case as this which had come to his knowledge in Crete must have sharpened that conviction. As error spread, and especially such error as led to lax morals, the office of ruler in the young community grew to be of the higher consequence, and it became more important to secure that those who were admitted to office possessed the requisite qualifications. It throws a good deal of light on this point to observe where the stress is laid in Paul’s catalogue of these qualifications. Ability on the elder’s part to argue with Jew and heathen, or even to edify disciples, is not put in the foreground. On the contrary, the qualification insisted upon with most detail is one of character. Among the little companies to be found in the towns of Crete few men would probably be found competent to discuss points of theology, or to hold their own on subtle questions of Mosaic law with glib talkers of “the circumcision.” Certainly there could not as yet exist a class of professional divines, expert in controversy or specially educated to instruct their brethren. What was to be had was just a few men of some years’ Christian standing and of grave and approved Christian character, who, knowing from experience that the true faith of the Lord Jesus was a faith “according to godliness,” could bring new-fangled doctrines to this plain test: Did they contribute to promote wholesome manners, or did they betray an evil origin by their noxious influence upon practice? In effect, it was by their pure example, by the weight of their character, by the sober and balanced judgment which Christian experience forms, and, above all, by that instinct with which a mature Christian mind, however untrained in theology, recoils from morbid views of duty, dangerous errors of mischievous speculation: it was by the possession of gifts like these that the elders were fitted to form a salutary force within the Church; and the best service they could render it at that conjuncture would be to keep the flock in old safe paths, guarding its faith from poisonous admixture, that, amid the restlessness of a fermenting period, men’s minds might be settled in quietness upon the simple teaching of the gospel. It cannot surprise us therefore to find, when we come to look at the qualifications Paul desires in the Cretan elder, that the condition first insisted on is, not simply character, but reputed character. He must be a man against whom public rumour lays no scandalous charge, either within or without the Christian society. There may have been something in the condition of the Cretan Church which rendered it specially desirable that its representatives should stand well in the esteem of their neighbours. But it is plain that upon this qualification must always depend in every Church the real value and influence of the eldership. It matters comparatively little how active or zealous or even devout a church ruler be, if men cannot respect him because they either see, or imagine that they see, such flaws as seriously detract from the total impression his character ought to make upon them. However useful in other ways a man of blemished estimation may prove, he is not likely to lend dignity to sacred office or attract to it the confidence and reverence of the people. The general conception of “blamelessness” St. Paul breaks up into eleven particulars; of which five describe what the elder must not be, and six what he ought to be. Of the negative requirements, the first and the last need not surprise us. Many a good man exhibits an unconciliatory and unpliant temper; but such a disposition is a peculiarly unfortunate one in the official who has to act along with others in the management of a large body of brethren, and to preserve that peace which is the bond or girdle of perfection. The stubborn man who insists on having his own way at too heavy a cost makes a bad elder. So of the fifth negative. The instance of the false teachers at Crete showed how readily in that age a greedy man might take unworthy advantage of the confidence of the Church, not to say by downright peculation, but at all events by making a good thing out of his position. Such a temptation lay near to a trader in one of the Greek seaports, as many among these new-made presbyters would be. But the spirit of covetousness is hard to exorcise from the ministry at all times; the harder now, because the ministry has come to be a “profession.” Let us hope that the modern ecclesiastic stands in less danger of the group of things forbidden which lies between these two: “not soon angry; not given to wine” (or in the R.V., “no brawler”; literally it means one who is not rude over his cups), “no striker.” All three expressions picture for us a type of character with which Paul and the Church at Crete were possibly too familiar; a hot-tempered man, apt to get excited, if not a little tipsy, on jovial occasions; and, when heated with wine, only too loud in his talk and too prompt with his fists. The seaboard of these Greek islands must have offered plenty of specimens of this sort of fellow; but we should scarcely have supposed it needful to warn a Christian congregation against making an “elder” of him. Although the temptation to drink drags too often even presbyters from their seats, we should not elevate to that position a quarrelsome tippler if we knew it. I suspect that the surprise we feel when we meet such items in a list of disqualifications for office, serves in some degree to measure the progress in social manners which, thanks to the gospel, we have made since these words were written. Our holy religion itself has so raised the standard of reputable behaviour, at least among professors of the faith, that we revolt from indulgences as unworthy even of a Christian which Cretan converts needed to be told were unworthy of a presbyter. When we turn to the positive virtues which Paul desired to see in candidates for sacred office, we are again reminded of our altered circumstances. No modern writer would think of placing hospitality at the top of the list. But in times when travelling was difficult, and the inns few or bad, those Christians, whom either private business or the interests of the gospel compelled to visit foreign cities, were exceedingly dependent on the kindly offices of the few who in each chief centre owned and loved the same Lord. At heathen hands they could count on little friendship; the public usages of society were saturated with the associations of idolatry. The scattered members of the Christian body were therefore compelled to form a little secret guild all over the Mediterranean lands, of which the branches maintained communication with each other, furnishing their members with letters of introduction whenever they had occasion to pass from one port to another. To receive such stranger disciples into one’s house, furnish them with travelling requisites, further their private affairs, and bid them God speed on their journey, came to be everywhere esteemed as duties of primary obligation, especially on the official leaders and wealthier members in each little band of brethren. Hospitality like this would be a part of the elder’s public duty; it was to be wished that it should spring out of a liberal and friendly disposition. Hence to the word “hospitable” the apostle adds, “a lover of good men,” or of all noble and generous acts. The main emphasis, however, in Paul’s sketch of the good “bishop” rests on the word our Authorised Version renders, not very happily, “sober.” This favourite word of the apostle throughout the Pastoral Epistles describes, according to Bishop Ellicott, “the well-balanced state of mind resulting from habitual self-restraint.” As he grew older St. Paul appears to have got very tired of intemperate extravagance both in thought and action, even among people who called themselves Christians. He saw that mischief was threatened to the Christian cause by wild fantastic speculation in theology, by the restless love of novelty in matters of opinion, by morbid one-sided tendencies in ethics, and generally by a high-flying style of religiousness which could minister neither to rational instruction nor to growth in holiness. Sick of all this, he never wearies in these later letters of insisting that a man should above all things be sane--morally and intellectually; preserving, amid the bewilderment and “sensationalism” of his time, a sober mind and a healthy moral sense. If the new elders to be ordained in Crete did not possess this quality, they were likely to effect extremely little good. The unruly Jewish deceivers, with their “endless genealogies,” legal casuistry, and “old wives’ fables,” would go on “subverting entire households” just as before. It certainly pertains to this balanced or sober condition of the Christian mind that it rests firmly and squarely on the essential truths of the gospel, holding for true the primitive faith of Christ, and not lending a ready ear to every new-fangled doctrine. This is the requirement in the presbyter which at the close of his instructions St. Paul insists on with some fulness (Titus 1:9). The mature and judicious believer who is fit for office must adhere to that faithful (or credible?) doctrine which conforms to the original teaching of the apostles and first witnesses of our holy religion. Otherwise, how can he discharge his twofold function of “exhorting” the members of the Church in sound Christian instruction, and of “confuting” the opponents? (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

As the steward of God

Ministerial stewardship

I. First, the word implieth thus much, that God is a great Householder (Matthew 21:33); that his house is his church, where He as a great personage keepeth His residence, more stately and honourable than the court or standing house of any earthly king in the world, in that herein He pleaseth to manifest His presence by His Spirit working in the Word and ministry; and as it is with other great houses, so the Spirit of God speaketh of this as committed not to one but many stewards, who take the charge of it to order and govern it according to the mind of the Master and unto His greatest honour and advantage. And these stewards are the ministers, so called

1. Because as the steward in a house is to dispense all necessaries unto the whole family according to the allowance and liking of his lord, even so the minister receiveth from God power to administer according to the necessities of the Church all the things of God, as Word, sacraments, prayer, admonition, etc.

2. As the steward receiveth the keys of the house to open and shut, to lock and unlock, to admit or exclude out of the house, for so is it said of Eliakim (Isaiah 22:22), even so every minister receiveth the keys of the kingdom of heaven to open and shut heaven, to bind and loose, to remit and retain sins, as Matthew 16:19.

3. As the steward sitteth not in his own as an owner or freeholder, but is to be countable and to give up his hills monthly or quarterly when the master shall call for them, so every minister is to be countable of his talents received, and of his expenses, and how he hath dispensed his Master’s goods (Hebrews 13:17). “They watch for their souls as they which must give account.”

II. The second thing in this similitude to be considered is the force of the argument, which is this: that because every minister is called to a place so near the lord as to be his steward, therefore he must be unblameable. Where we have the ground of another instruction. Every man as he is nearer unto God in place must be so much the more careful of his carriage: that he may both resemble Him in his virtues, dignify his place, and walk more worthy of Him that hath drawn him so near Himself. Besides that, every master looketh to be graced by his servant; and much more will the Lord be glorified either of or in all those that come near Him (Leviticus 10:1-20). For as the master quickly turneth out of his doors such disgraceful persons as become reproachful to the family, even so the Lord, knowing that the infamous courses of the servant reacheth itself even to the master, turneth such out of His service which are the just subjects of reproach. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Stewards of God

It is worthy of remembrance that Archbishop Tillotson and Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, considered their large revenues as trusts committed to their care. Accordingly they set aside what remained after their maintenance in a plain way for bettering the condition of the poor clergy and repairs in churches, besides using hospitality to the poor. It is said of Burner that when his secretary informed him he had in hand about £500, he remarked, “What a shame for a Christian to have so much money unemployed!” and ordered its immediate distribution for useful purposes.

A faithful steward

The other day I received a communication from a lawyer, who says that a very large owner has discovered that a very small piece of property belongs to him and not to the small proprietor in whose possession it has for a very long time remained. The matter seemed a trifling one. We had a conference, and there came the steward with the lawyers, and he was furnished with maps, and, putting on his spectacles, examined them with great care. Why? It was a small matter to him, but because he was a steward he was expected to be faithful. And when he found that this small piece of ground belonged to his lord he was determined to have it. So let me say--as stewards of the gospel of God--never give up one verse, one doctrine, one word of the truth of God. Let us be faithful to that committed to us, it is not ours to alter. We have but to declare that which we have received. (S. Cook, D. D.)

Not self-willed

Frowardness most dangerous in a minister

1. It is the mother of error in life and doctrine, yea, of strange opinions, schisms, and heresies themselves; and it cannot be otherwise, seeing the ear of a self-conceited person is shut against all counsel, without which “thoughts come to nought, as where many counsellors are is steadfastness.” And as everywhere almost the wicked man is termed a froward man, and a wicked and ungodly heart a froward heart, so is it generally true which the wise man observed, that such a froward heart can never find good, but evil and woe cleaveth unto it: and therefore David, when he would shut the door of his soul against much evil, said, “A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know,” that is, affect and act, “evil.”

2. Whereas men think it a note of learning and wisdom not to yield an inch in any opinion they take up, the Spirit of God brandeth it with a note of folly: and it is no other than the way of the fool which seemeth good in his own eyes. Indeed, neither minister nor ordinary Christian may be as shaking reeds, tossed hither and thither with every blast of wind; but yet is it a wise man’s part to hear and try and not stick to his own counsel as a man wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can give a reason: for there is greater hope of a fool than of such a one.

3. There are many necessitudes and occasions between the minister and people: he must admonish the inordinate, raise with comforts the afflicted, restore those that are fallen, and set their bones again tenderly by the spirit of meekness, and privately encourage those that do well. Again, they must consult with him, ask him sometimes of his doctrine, lay open unto him their grief as to their physician under Christ, and seek for particular direction in special cases from him: in all which and many more mutual duties they may not by this inordinate humour be deterred and hindered, but rather with all meekness and lenity be allured, lovingly entertained, and contentedly dismissed from him.

Use

1. The minister must learn to be docile and affable: the former fitteth him to learn of others, the latter to teach others; for none can be apt to teach others who is not apt to learn of others; and in the minister especially a tractable and teachable disposition is a singular inviting of others by his example more easily to admit his teaching, whether by reprehension, admonition, or howsoever.

2. So hearers (seeing frowardness is such an impediment to instruction) must learn to cast it from them, which in many (otherwise well affected) is a disposition hard to please: in some making them seldom contented with the pains, matter, or manner of their ministry; but having a bed in their brain of their own size, whatsoever is longer they cut off, whatsoever is shorter they stretch and rack it: for their own opinions may not yield, not knowing to give place to better. Others are secure, and therein grown froward against the Word. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Not soon angry

Hastiness to anger a great blot in a minister

For

1. Whereas a minister ought to be a man of judgment, knowledge, and understanding (for these are most essential unto his calling), yea, a man of such wisdom as whereby all his actions, ministerial and common, should be ordered; this flashing anger overturneth for the present, yea, and drowneth all his judgment, for what other is it than a little fury and a short madness?

2. The pestilent effects and fruits of anger, and the natural daughters resembling the mother are such, as in a minister of all men are intolerable: as, swelling of the mind so high, and so full as there is no room for good motions and meditations (which should wholly take up the minister’s heart) to dwell by it: the often arising of God’s enemies, and harming and wounding of His friends, for anger is cruel and wrath is raging: it cares not for any, nor spares any that come in the way of it; for who can stand before envy? And from this indignation of heart proceed usually impiety against God, for all prayers and parts of His worship are interrupted; contumely against men, for the bond of love is broken; clamour of speech, violence of hands, temerity of actions, late repentance, and many more such symptoms of this desperate disease: for he hath lost all the bridle and moderation of himself. Now what government is he worthy of, especially in the Church of God, that ordinarily loseth all the government of himself?

3. The minister standing in the room and stead of God ought to be a mortified man, for till he have put off this filthy fruit of the flesh can he never lively express the virtues of God, who is a God of patience, meekness, much in compassion, slow to wrath; and much less can he fitly stamp and imprint that part of His image on others, yea, or teach them to withstand such hot and hasty affections which so suddenly surprise and inflame himself.

4. As the minister is to be a means of reconciling God unto man, so likewise of man unto man; which commendable duty a hasty man can never to purpose perform: nay, rather he stirreth up strife and marreth all: whereas Solomon observeth that only he “that is slow to wrath appeaseth strife,” for this unruly passion will disable a man to hear the truth of both parties indifferently, nor abideth to hear the debate, but it will be thundering threats before time serve to take knowledge of tim matter.

5. This vice prejudiceth all his ministerial actions.

Means to repress rash anger

The means to bridle and stay this rash and unadvised anger stand partly in meditations, partly in practices.

1. For the former

2. And for the practices

(a) Avoid occasions, as chiding, contentions, multiplying of words, which, though they be wind, yet do they mightily blow up this fire.

(b) Depart from the company of the Contentious, as Jacob from Esau, and Jonathan avoided the fury of his father by rising up and going his way.

(c) Drive away with an angry countenance whisperers, tale bearers, flatterers, who are Satan’s seedsmen, by whom he soweth his tares everywhere, and his bellows by whom he bloweth up these hellish sparkles, desirous to bring all things into combustion and confusion.

Not given to wine

Drunkenness

has been the ruin of multitudes of the most learned and gifted ministers of the Church of God. It has slain its thousands and tens of thousands in all ages, to the scandal and ruin of the Church of God. If there was a danger in the wine country of Crete, what must be the danger in the spirit countries of the north? But a man may be πάροινος (Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:3)--viz., by wine, sitting long by his wine--without being a drunkard; and this, also, is condemned by the apostle. A man once said to me, “I drink wine regularly; I like it, and require a bottle or two daily, but I never drink to excess; I am no drunkard, and in all my life I have never been rendered incapable of doing my duties by wine.” Very likely, but yet you are πάροινος. You like your wine, and sit long by it, and therefore you are condemned by the apostle. Generally speaking, the more simply and abstemiously we live the better; and bishops especially should in this, as in all others, be examples to the flock. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Why a minister should not be addicted to wine

1. To be addicted to the wine or strong drink “taketh away the heart” (Hosea 4:11), that is, troubleth the understanding, confoundeth the senses, and equalleth a man to the brute beast without understanding: and thus disableth the man of God in all the practice of his calling. As the wise man therefore saith (Proverbs 31:4), so much less is it for the minister and pastor set over God’s people, lest he forget God’s decrees and change His judgments as Aaron’s sons did.

2. This sitting at wine calleth him from the duties and means of his fitness unto his calling; he cannot attend to reading, exhortation, doctrine, which is straightly enjoined (1 Timothy 4:13).

3. Such a man is so far from performance of any faithful duty, that he cannot but become rather an enemy to those that do. Thus the love of wine makes them fail in vision: and the sitting at wine lutleth them asleep, “even on the top of the mast” (as Solomon speaketh of the drunkard), that in times and places of most present and desperate dangers, they see none nor fear any.

4. It disableth all the duties that such a one in his most sobriety can perform (suppose them never so commendable), seeing he hath made himself and calling so contemptible: for what authority can an oracle have out of s drunken man’s mouth, which is so accustomed to speak lewd things? and one who hath shaken hands with the most base and wicked companions in a country, which is another inseparable companion of this sin (Hosea 7:5). (T. Taylor, D. D.)

No striker

“No striker”

It is said of Bishop Bonner, of infamous memory, that, when examining the poor Protestants whom he termed heretics, when worsted by them in argument he was used to smite them with his fists, and some times scourge and whip them. But though he was a most ignorant and consummate savage, yet from such a Scripture as this he might have seen the necessity of surrendering his mitre. (Adam Clarke.)

Not given to filthy lucre

Rules for the subduing of covetous desires

1. Meditate

2. Practise these rules following

(a) By daily seeking the assurance of the pardon of sin.

(b) By daily prayer against this sin especially.

(c) By daily reading the Scriptures, which are the sword of the Spirit to cut off such lusts, wisely observing and applying such places as most cross it.

(d) By being ready to do good, and distribute, and exercising liberality upon all good motions and occasions. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A lover of hospitality

The true hospitality

By this is not meant what is called keeping a good open table, of which we have, and have ever had, many examples in England, and much money, time, and health have been spent at these luxurious and hospitable banquets. The apostle does not mean the great dinners of friendship, such as we have now, when luxuries are drawn together from the ends of the earth, to renew the sated appetite, and anticipate not only the real but the imaginary wants of the guests; he refers not to the sparkling of the wine, or the brilliancy of wit when the spirit is high, or those postprandial exhibitions which have been called the feast of reason and the flow of soul. No; this is not his meaning: but the bishop must be a lover of hospitality in a higher and far nobler sense of the word; his house and his heart ever open to the poor and needy (Luke 14:13); if he has two coats, the first naked man whom he meets gets one of them; if the Lord has given him wealth, he actually realises the 25th of Matthew, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those that are in prison. He loves to see the learned and the good, the advanced Christian and the weak believer, assembled round his table, in free and full and unrestrained conversation; it is his noble privilege to meet with all classes, mix with all classes, and still be a blessing to them all; he can fare with a peasant or feast with a prince, and be equally satisfied with either. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Hospitality in ministers

I. The occasion of this precept was the distressed estate and condition of the church, which by reason of many tyrants and persecutors was driven into many straits, partly perceived in present and partly foreseen by the prophetical spirit of the apostle, not only in the ten persecutions then imminent, but also in the several afflictions of the world, in which they were to find tribulation even to the end of it. For as it is in this aspectable world, which is subject to so many changes and mutations, because it standeth in the vicissitudes of years, months, days, and nights, so much more is it in the spiritual world of the Church, which in the earth is acquainted with her winter as well as summer, her nights as well as days: sometimes the Sun of Righteousness most comfortably shining and imparting His heat and light by His near approach unto her; yea, and sometimes there be two suns in this firmament, for together with the sun of the Church, the sun of the world affordeth warm and comfortable days for the full beauty, liberty, and glory of the Church. But sometimes, again, this sun departeth in displeasure and carrieth the sun of the world with him, then is a black winter of the Church, nothing but storms and tempests, persecutions and trials, one in the neck of another, and scarce one fair gleam between. Now in such times the poor Church is driven to travel for rest, and the innocent dove of Christ cannot find in her own land any rest for the sole of her foot; well may she fly abroad to seek her security. In all which times every Christian is bound by this and such like precepts to give her harbour and safe conduct till the dash and storm be over. Besides, suppose the Church in general at her best estate, yet the particular members of the Church are for most part poor and needy, and even then subject to many troubles for keeping the faith and good consciences, by means whereof they are often driven from house and home, and sometimes are in banishment and exile, sometimes in prison and bonds; all whom the Lord commendeth to the charitable and Christian devotion of Christian men, and bindeth them to the cheerful receiving and relieving of them in such necessity; let them be strangers yet, if they be of the household of faith, they have right to harbour and relieve, and in the practice of this duty the apostle requireth that the minister be the foreman.

II. It will be inquired whether every minister must be harbourous and hospitable, and if he must, what shall become of them whose livings are scarce able to harbour themselves; and much more of the swarms of our ten-pound men, and very many scarce half that to maintain their family? it seemeth that every minister ought to be a rich man. I answer, that the poorest minister may not exempt himself from this duty, neither is altogether disabled from it; a poor man may be merciful and comfortable to the distressed some way or other, as if with Peter and John he have not money or meat to give, yet such as he hath he can give--counsel, prayers, and his best affections.

III. The reasons enforcing this precept upon the minister especially.

1. In regard of strangers he must take up this duty whether they be strangers from the faith, that hereby he might win them to the love of true religion which they see to be so merciful and liberal, or else if they be converted much more that he may comfort and confirm such as are banished, or otherwise evil entreated for the confession and profession of the truth, for if every Christian, much more must the minister be affected to those that are in bonds, as though himself were bound with them, and consequently look what kindness he would receive if he were in their condition, the same to his power he is to bestow upon them.

2. In regard of his own people, upon whom by this means he sealeth his doctrine sundry ways; but especially if he keep open house for the poor Christians in want he bindeth the souls of such receivers to obey the Word, and encourageth them by his entertainment in their entertainment of the gospel.

IV. The use.

1. It teacheth that it were to be wished that the maintenance of every minister were competent, certain, and proper unto himself, that he might have wherewith to perform this so necessary a duty.

2. In regard of poor strangers, to stir up ministers and people to a liberal heart towards them all, but especially if they be such as, the land of whose own possessions being unclean, come over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord’s tabernacle dwelleth. How few children hath Abraham, the father of our faith, among us, who sit in the door of their tent to watch for and enforce strangers to receive their best entertainment! Few be our Lots, who will undergo any loss, any indignity, before strangers shall sustain any harm at all; he will offer his own daughters to their violence, he will use reasons, they had known no man, and that which would have persuaded any but the Sodomites he used last, that they were strangers and were come under his roof. Few Jobs, who will not suffer the stranger to lodge in the street, but open their doors to him that passeth by the way. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A lover of good men

The lover of the good

1. A good man is always deeply sensible of the opposite of goodness--of moral evil--in himself and in the world around him. The inner cry of his heart often is, “O wretched man that I am,” “When I would do good, evil is present with me!” It is present, but not allowed; hated rather, mourned over, repented of, put away in purpose. The goodness of the man is shown in this internal preference--a preference of which, in the first instance, only the man himself is conscious, but which is certain to become apparent to others. For, be sure of this, that what we most deeply regard in our own hearts cannot be permanently hidden from others. Exactly so it is with regard to evil in the world around him, that is, the evil that is in other men. A good man cannot look upon evil with favour or allowance; the instinct that is within him will put him in a moment in moral opposition to the evil that is in the world. Conscience says, with Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me, God!” The world’s way is a way of universal conciliation and compliance and apology.

2. A good man, while standing in direct moral opposition to evil will, at the same time, be pitiful and compassionate towards the subjects of it. He will be like God in this. God hates evil. God pities those who are caught in its toils, and who suffer its penalties and are loaded with its curse. He pities them and comes to save them.

3. A good man is humble, modest, moderate in his own esteem. He has the sense of his frailty, of his sin, and all the limitations of his nature, and the sorrows and troubles of this earthly life to keep him humble. A proud man is foolish, in the deepest sense, and ignorant.

4. A good man is one who does good. As the righteous man is one who doeth righteousness; as the merciful man is one who “sheweth mercy,” and the generous man one who gives at some self-sacrifice; so in a larger sense the good man is one who does good, as he has opportunity, at his own cost, with some intelligent purpose for the benefit of his fellow men; who does good from a grateful sense of the great goodness of God to him; does good from a real love of the action, and a love of the people to whom he does it;--who, in one word, is like God Himself, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not--“who sends His rain on the lust and on the unjust.” A good man is one, in short, who has the active and passive virtues more or less in exercise. They are not in perfect exercise: some of them may be scarcely in sight at all, but he is inclined to all the virtue and set, in the temper of his mind, against all evil.

5. There is on the whole not much difficulty in distinguishing such a man from a man who is not good--who is not true, who is not faithful; who is not generous, nor humble, nor helpful; who has no likeness to Christ, who is not morally a child of God. The difficulty is greater when we come to compare this real Christian goodness with some of the more promising types of natural amiability. Some men are made to be loved. They are so kind, so bright, so helpful, so full of sympathy, and they carry all this somehow so much in their temper, and in the whole habit of their life, and even often on their very countenances, that they make their way at once wherever they wish to be. After all some of them may be good and true in the deepest and most essential sense; many of them may be good up to the point of their knowledge--“He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” He that doeth good is good; and without any fear we may be “lovers of” such good men.

6. If we love good men, we shall observe them thoughtfully, we shall look at their spirit and character, their aims and their purposes in life. Love will soon die, love of any kind, unless it be fed by thought and kindled anew by remembrance. “Therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan.” “When I remember these things”--the privileges and joys of bygone days--“I pour out my soul in me”; in distress and apprehension lest they should never be renewed, and yet in fervent hope that they may; that I shall again ascend the hill of Zion, and sing at her feasts among the bands of the faithful and the good.

7. If we love good men we shall associate with them. They will be our hearts’ aristocracy, the very uppermost circle of life to us, “our joy and crown.” By such association we shall get social and spiritual advantages that could not otherwise come to us. (A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Good companionship

This is no doubt intended to rebuke the tendency in many most hospitable men to surround their tables not with the good but the bad; not with the sober, the wise, and the saintly, but the vilest, because they may be brilliant, and the most immoral, because they may be attractive and refined. The Christian bishop should be a lover of good men: his house should be a magnet to attract the just, the generous, and the holy from all quarters; not a scene of luxurious revelry to attract the riotous and the profane. Except in the pulpit the apostolical bishop has nowhere so great an influence as in his own house and at his own table; and his example in privacy being noble and Christian is even more attractive and influential than in his public ministrations. His guests have generally an open ear, and the faithful bishop has a word in season for them all. A godly bishop (if he had the means), in the neighbourhood of a university might influence in this way the minds of hundreds of young men who are to be the future lights and guides of the nation. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Just, holy, temperate

Good ministerial qualities

1. Just refers to the principles of equity in our conduct with one another. In the entire management and government of his Church, but especially in discipline, the bishop or elder requires this qualification. He must look upon the poor and the rich, the ignorant and the learned, in this respect with an equal eye.

2. Holy, on the other hand, expresses more especially our relations towards God, who is so often called in Scripture “the Holy One of Israel.” He is a saint, and rejoices to be numbered with the company of those that are sanctified. His external conduct, which is altogether just, is not superficial but real, and flows from holiness of heart; and all his noble actions in the sight of man are based on the new heart, the new nature, and the new hope within him. He is holy: his presence rebukes the ungodly, and the tongue of the wicked is silent before him; the atmosphere around him is pure, salubrious, and serene; his words when he speaks are like ointment poured forth; his holy exhortations and heavenly prayers are full of the blessing of the Lord; and his whole walk in the midst of the people is like the sun, brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. This twofold relation of man to his neighbour and to God was known to the heathen, for Polybius says (23:10, 8), “Just in respect to our fellow man, and holy in things pertaining to God.” Both of these meet in the Christian bishop and form the greatest perfection of his character. He is distinguished by justice among his fellow creatures on earth, and his holiness connects him with his Lord and Head in heaven.

3. He is also temperate, ἐκρατῆς, (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 9:25)
--powerful, master of himself, having self-control, and hence continent, which is undoubtedly the meaning of it here. He has renounced the world, the devil, and the flesh, and he will not be drawn away from his high calling by sensual pleasure. (
W. Graham, D. D.)

Holding fast the faithful Word

The characteristics of a successful preacher

I. Personal conviction of the truth.

II. Aptness to teach others.

III. Power of persuasion and conviction. (F. Wagstaff.)

The faithful Word

I. The word of god is a faithful word, and infallible.

1. The author is holy and true (Revelation 3:7; Revelation 3:14).

2. The instruments were led by the immediate direction of the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).

3. The matter of this Word is an everlasting truth; the law an eternal rule of righteousness as ancient as God Himself; the gospel an everlasting gospel, containing promises of eternal truth, etc.

4. The form of it, which is the conformity of it with God Himself, maketh it appear that if God be faithful this His Word must needs also be so; in that it resembleth Him in His omnipotency, for this power and arm of God never returneth in vain but doth all the work of it. In His wisdom giving most perfect and sure directions, resolving all doubtful eases, and making wise unto salvation. In His purity and perfection being an undefiled and perfect law. In His omniscience it searcheth the heart, discovereth the thoughts, divideth between the marrow and bone (Hebrews 4:12). In His judgment acquitting believers, to whom it is a sweet savour of life to life; condemning infidels both here and much more at the last day (John 12:48). In His truth and verity as here, and Colossians 1:5, it is called the word of truth.

5. The ends shew the certainty and faithfulness of it, it being the only means of regeneration (1 Peter 1:21), of begetting faith, (Romans 10:1-21), and, consequently, both of freeing men from hell and of assuring them of that freedom; the only word that can supply sound and firm consolation, yea settled and assured comfort unto distressed consciences, none of which ends could it ever attain if itself were unsound and uncertain.

II. Now as it carrieth with it all these grounds, so are there a number without it more whereby we may confirm the same truth, as

1. It is the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20), against which if hell gates could ever prevail the Church were utterly sunk.

2. Hereunto hath the Lord tied His Church, as to an infallible direction, to the law, and to the testimony, without which there is nothing but error and wandering; ye err not knowing the Scriptures.

3. This truth hath been above all other oppugned by Satan, heretics, tyrants, yet never a whir of it was ever diminished; Solomon’s books may be lost, but not these of the true Solomon, Jesus Christ.

4. This Word hath been so certainly sealed in the hearts of the elect of all ages that where it once was harboured in truth it could never be shaken out by any kind of most exquisite torture and torment. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

The faithful Word to be improved

Unto hearers this doctrine affordeth special use of instruction.

1. If it be so faithful a Word every man must attend unto it (2 Peter 1:19); we have a surer word, to which ye do well that ye attend.

2. To lay up this Word surely, as being the sure evidence of thy salvation, and of thy heavenly inheritance among the saints. Men lock up their evidences or conveyances of land in sure and safe places, delight often to read them, suffer no man to cousen them of them, whatsoever casualty come these are by all means possible safeguarded, and shall any man carelessly neglect such an evidence as this is, without which he hath no assurance of salvation, nor the tenure (out of his idle conceit) of one foot in heaven; a lame man, if he hold not his staff, falleth; and whosoever loseth his part in the Word loseth his part in heaven.

3. Here is a ground of thankfulness, in that the Lord hath not only vouchsafed us life and glory and immortality when we were dead, and when nothing could be added to our misery; but hath also given us such a constant guide and direction thereunto. Now what can we do less than in way of thankfulness

The Bible inflexible in its requirements

When I was a boy I was engaged in the building trade. I didn’t know much about it, and I was set to do any odd jobs, any work in a dark corner that could not be much seen. I worked by the side of a man who on one occasion made a sarcastic remark that I shall never forget. It made me so angry, nearly as angry as you are when you are hit hard from the pulpit. He said, “Tom, when I go home I will call at the saddler’s and order a leather plumb rod for you.” He meant that my work was so crooked that I wanted a bending and not a straight plumb rod. Builders use a wooden plumb that will not bend at all. The Bible is not a leather plumb rod to be accommodated to us, but is like a wooden one, inflexible in its requirements, and to which we must accommodate ourselves. (T. Champness.)

That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince

Sound doctrine and faithful exhortation

1. In that the Word is called doctrine, and no doctrine is without a teacher; it behoveth every man to repair to the teachers of it.

2. As this doctrine implieth teachers, so doth it also learners and scholars. Teaching us that we must all of us become learners of this Word and doctrine, for so long as there is doctrine and teaching on God’s part so must there be an hearkening and learning on ours, and the rather, both because that which is said of all knowledge, that it is infinite, is much more true of this, for God’s commandments are exceeding large, as also seeing in this school we are to become not only more learned but better men.

3. In that the apostle calleth that here wholesome doctrine, which in the words before he called a faithful Word, and fitted for doctrine. Note that the men of God, when they fell into speech of the Word of God, they spoke not slightly of it and away, but were hardly drawn from it without leaving behind them some notable eulogy or other upon it (Romans 1:16): the gospel the power of God to salvation (John 6:68). Peter saith not, Master, Thou hast the word of God, but Thou hast the words of eternal life; and what a number of glorious things are ascribed unto it (Hebrews 4:12). Hence according to their several occasions are all those excellent epithets ascribed unto it through the Scriptures, some of the penmen looking at the author, some at the matter, some to the qualities, some to the effects, and accordingly invest it with titles well beseeming it.

4. Whereas the apostle is not contented that the minister should teach but exhort also; it teacheth ministers to labour for this gift whereby an edge is set upon their doctrine, and wherewith as with a goad they prick on the affections of those that are under the yoke of Christ. A difficult thing it is, for teaching is an easy task in comparison of it, and yet so necessary as that all the ministerial work is called by this name (Acts 13:15).

5. Whereas the apostle addeth that exhortation must go with wholesome doctrine, we note that then is exhortation powerful and profitable, when it is firmly grounded upon sound and wholesome doctrine. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Victory through preaching sound doctrine

Seldom has a better answer been rendered to the enemies of Christ than that given by Pastor Rolland in a Catholic canton, where the gospel has but recently gained a footing. The incident is thus described: Absolutely discarding controversy he preached the simple, clear gospel. The Capucine monks came to preach a mission against the “heretical invasion,” the “Vaudois venom” permeating the canton; and, in no measured language, thundered their calumnies and anathemas. People came to the pastor: “You surely will not let this drop, but roundly answer them?” “Only you come next Sunday,” replied he, “and you will hear how I will serve them out!” The church was filled, and the pastor preached on the love of God through Christ Jesus, and on the love He sheds abroad in our hearts towards all men--not an allusion throughout to the bitter words which had been spoken. The contrast was immensely felt. The writer goes on to say that the people who had crowded the church were profoundly touched, and a grander victory was won than by any amount of hard words. The simple story of the love of God in Christ moved and melted the hardest hearts. The incident is worth noticing as an example which might well find followers.


Verse 10-11

Titus 1:10-11

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers--The conjunction “for” showeth that the words following contain a reason of the matter preceding, viz.
, why the minister should be a man so qualified with able parts, both to maintain the truth and censure the falsehood. The reason is drawn from the description

1. Of teachers, in these two verses; and

2. Of hearers, in the twelfth.

The teachers are described by three arguments.

1. From their indefinite number, there are many, not two or three, who are easily set down, but many.

2. By their adjuncts, which are two.

1. They are disobedient or refractory, such as will not submit themselves to the true doctrine and discipline of the Church.

2. They are vain talkers; that is, such as being given to ostentation and vanity, contemn the study and delivery of sound and profitable doctrine, and search out words and matters of wit and applause, both of them of more sweetness unto the flesh than soundness unto the soul and spirit.

3. By their most dangerous effects, and these also are two.

1. Their deceiving of minds; for which ungodly practice he especially brandeth them of the circumcision; that is, either by metonymy, the Jews themselves circumcised, or else Gentiles Judaising, embracing Jewish opinions, mixing the law and gospel, Moses and Christ, circumcision and baptism together, making indeed an hotchpotch of religion by confounding things that can never stand together. The second effect of them is their subversion of whole houses; that is, they poison and infect whole houses, yea, and where the grounds and foundation of religion hath been laid they overturn and overthrow all. This last effect is declared by two arguments.

1. From the instrumental cause of it, and that is by their false doctrine, teaching things which they ought not.

2. From the final cause of it, that is, covetousness, for filthy lucre sake. Now these teachers being so many, so dangerous and hurtful, their mouths must needs be stopped. Which is a common conclusion set between the two verses, as having reference unto them both, as a common remedy against all the mischief which anyway may be let in by them, and therefore those that are to be admitted into the ministry must be of ability to stop their mouths. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Hindrances to religion

I. The chief hindrances to religion are often in the church itself. The persons alluded to were members and professed teachers.

1. Words without sincerity are “vain.”

2. Great attention may be paid to the letter of the law, while its spirit is violated--“they of the circumcision.”

3. The distinction between good and bad preachers--the former live to preach, while the latter preach to live.

II. Hindrances in the church must be removed. “Whose mouths must be stopped.”

1. Discipline must be exercised in love.

2. The prosperity of the Church of God must be considered before that of individuals.

3. Every age has its own obstructions to the truth--intemperance, covetousness, selfishness, the chief hindrances of the present.

III. Communities are affected by the conduct of individuals. The characters of men are transferred to their country; here the Cretians became a byword. So, drunken Englishmen abroad, compromise the character of their fellow countrymen. Four vices

1. Untruthfulness.

2. Passion--“evil beasts.”

3. Sensuality.

4. Slothfulness. (F. Wagstaff.)

The characteristics of false teachers

1. In that the first thing taxed in these false teachers by the apostle is disobedience, we learn that disobedience commonly is the ground of false doctrine. For

1. It is just with God to give up those to errors and delusion that receive not the truth in the love of it, for wheresoever it is received in love obedience cannot but be yielded unto it.

2. The nature of sin is ever to be excusing itself, and is loath to be crossed, although never so justly, but studieth how to defend itself as long as it can, even by wresting the Scriptures, and by taking up one error for the maintenance of another.

3. The tenor of Scripture joineth these two together (2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 2:12; Acts 13:8; Acts 13:10; 3 John 1:9).

II. Preachers who themselves are disobedient unto the word, for most part become in their ministry no better than vain talkers.

1. In regard of themselves, being vain glorious persons, affect applause rather than godly edifying, which is a most vain thing.

2. In respect of their labour, which is all in vain, never attaining the end and right scope of the preaching of the gospel unto salvation; for he that soweth vanity what else can he look to reap?

3. In regard of the hearers, who also spend their pains in vain: they hear a great noise and pomp of words, and a glorious show of human wisdom, which may wrap the simple into admiration, but they are left without reformation; their ear is perhaps a little tickled, but their hearts remain untouched; neither are their souls soundly instructed nor fed with knowledge, but they go away as wise as they came.

These Paul calleth vain talkers and vain janglers (1 Timothy 1:6), and again, profane and vain babblers, and that justly.

1. Because their puffed discourses proceed from the profanity of their hearts.

2. They are as strange fire from the Lord’s altar, opposed to that which the Lord hath sanctified to the salvation of His people.

3. They are so far from the edifying of the Church that they cause men to increase unto more ungodliness and profaneness.

III. How did these false teachers deceive men’s minds?

1. By suppressing the truth; for by their vain jangling and speaking, liker poets, philosophers, historians, than prophets, apostles, or any successors of theirs, they made a cleanly conveyance of the light from the people, and, withholding the truth and light, they led them from Christ, from the right knowledge of the Scriptures, from sound godliness and religion in judgment and practice, and so they remained as dark in their understanding, as erroneous in their judgments, as froward in their affections, and as wicked in their lives as ever before.

2. By flattery; for they would not deal directly against the sins of the age, as godly ministers do, but deceitfully, that they might not displease; herein imitating Satan himself, who was wont of old to answer in riddles, as he answered Cresus, that if he would transport himself over the river Halys he should overthrow a most mighty kingdom, namely, his own. But Micaiah will not deceive nor flatter with Ahab, although it stand upon his life.

3. By letting men see their estate in false glasses, so as they never see the truth of it, for people taught by fables and novelties think, and are borne in hand, that they are in heaven’s highway; their souls are brought on sleep, and coming from such frothy discourses, they sit down and please themselves in that they have done their task required, especially if they can bring home a jest or some witty sentence, when perhaps they scarce heard a word of Christ, of their justification, of their mortification, or of their glory.

4. By placing religion in bodily exercises, not in matters of spirit and truth (Colossians 2:20); thus did the Pharisees in their times, the Papists in these, and whosoever urge the decrees of men more than the commandments of God.

IV. But whose minds are deceived.

1. First their own and then others, for they are blind leaders of the blind, deceiving, and being deceived, and although our apostle expresseth not here who they be that are deceived, yet elsewhere he doth, as Romans 16:18, “they deceive the hearts of the simple,” and 2 Timothy 3:6, “they lead captive simple women,” and 2 Peter 2:14, “they beguile unstable souls,” whence we see that ignorant, inconstant, and unsettled souls, which hand over head receive any doctrine without examination or trial, whose simplicity disableth them to judge between truth and falsehood, and whose levity makes them like shaken reeds, these are the carouses on which such vultures do seize. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Danger from false teachers

Herodotus tells of a Scythian river having marvellous sweetness till a little bitter mingles with it, and gives it ever after an uncommon bitterness. So evil counsel, in some emergencies of the soul, will poison the whole current of its existence. You may poison a well from which a neighbourhood drinks, and yet be less guilty than to contaminate the flow of eternal thought. There are times when the greatest trust which one human being can repose in another is the confidence of wise direction. Confiding in the integrity of others, men sometimes commit their credit, their wives and children, to their keeping, and are guided by them through fiery coursers over the land, or by steam vessels over the seas; but when a man goes with his soul, and trusts that to what a fellow being may direct, the trust is as momentous as eternity itself. Yet this is done, for as by man came death, so by man comes life. Oh, ye who watch for souls, as every Christian should, see to it that you ask of God that which is profitable to direct, before you point out the way for a deathless mind to travel in. Example is said to speak louder than words. Whose mouths must be stopped

Faithful teachers must oppose seducers

The duty of every faithful minister is, when occasion is offered, timely to oppose himself against seducers, and stop the mouths of false teachers, wherein also the Church ought to back and strengthen him. For

1. The example of Christ must be our precedent, who most bodily and freely vindicated the law from the corrupt glosses and expositions of the Pharisees, and that in His first sermon.

2. In regard of the particular members of the Church, that they may be preserved in soundness from starting away and forsaking of the truth. And this is made one end of the precept; the madness of the false apostles must be made manifest, that they may prevail no longer.

3. In regard of the false teachers themselves; fools, saith Solomon, must be answered, lest they be wise in their own conceit; neither shall the labour be wholly lost upon them, for it shall be a means either to convert them and bring them to the knowledge of the truth, or else so to convince them as they shall be made excuseless. And further, the Church must strengthen every minister’s hands in this contending for the faith, and so manifest herself to be the ground and pillar of truth, which is committed to her trust and safe keeping, against all gainsayers. This ministerial duty requireth a great measure of knowledge, and a man furnished with gifts of variety of reading and soundness of judgment.

The silencing of evil talkers

Whose mouths must be stopped, does not mean that you are to throw them into an inquisition and gag their mouths, as was, and is, the practice of the Papacy. The heathen persecutors adopted the same method of dealing with the faithful martyrs of the Lord; for, in order to prevent them speaking of His grace, they cut out their tongues. The Moslems have the same bloody principle from their Koran; so that the Pope, the heathen, the grand Turk, are, on principle, persecutors. This is neither taught in our text, nor in any other part of the New Testament. On the contrary, the saints are persecuted, but they never persecute; they are to follow their Lord and Master to the cross, not the example of those who crucified Him. But their mouths must be stopped in a quite different manner from gagging; they must be opposed by reason, faithfulness, and love; their influence must be destroyed by the faithful preaching of the gospel; and if they be members of the Church, they must be silenced by discipline, and if still refractory, cast out of the communion of the faithful. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Stopping foolish speech

The heights and recesses of Mount Taurus are said to be much infested with eagles, who are never better pleased than when they pick the bones of a crane. Cranes are prone to cackle and make a noise (Isaiah 38:14), and particularly so while they are flying. The sound of their voices arouses the eagles, who spring up at the signal and often make the talkative travellers pay dearly for their impudent chattering. The older and more experienced cranes, sensible of their besetting foible and the peril to which it exposes them, take care before venturing on the wing to pick up a stone large enough to fill the cavity of their mouths, and consequently to impose unavoidable silence on their tongues, and thus they escape the danger. Persons troubled with unruly tongues may learn a lesson from the elder cranes. All Christians ought to bridle their tongues by watchfulness and prayer. The Psalmist formed a noble resolution: “I said, I will take heed to my way, that I sin not with my tongue.”


Verse 12-13

Titus 1:12-13

The Cretians are always liars

A classical quotation

It is not often that St.
Paul quoted from the treasuries of classic literature, and when he did so he did not draw upon the most celebrated of the Greek poets. The Hymn of Cleanthes gave him a text in his speech on Mars’ Hill; the treatise of Epimenides “concerning oracles” furnished him with another. Epimenides was a Cretian poet of religious character and prophetic claims, who visited Athens 599 b.c., and who shortly afterwards died, at the advanced age of a hundred and fifty. He appears to have uttered a terse drastic proverb, a bitter epigrammatic characterisation of his fellow countrymen, a portion of which, “The Cretians are always liars,” was quoted by Callimachus in his hymn to Zeus. Theodoret attributes the whole quotation to Callimachus. Jerome, Chrysostom, and Epiphanius, agree to refer this severe indictment against the Cretians to Epimenides, the semi-mythical and prophetic minstrel and priest. The severity of the condemnation did not interfere with the tradition preserved by Diogenes Laertius, that the Cretians did sacrificial honour to him as a god. According to Diogenes, stories manifestly fabulous are told of Epimenides, and he is credited with having written numerous treatises and poems. (
H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

The character of the Cretians

The charge of falsehood is repeated undoubtedly by Callimachus, and this characteristic must have been deserved, if we are to trust the host of testimonies to the same effect from other sources. The very word “Cretize” was invented, meaning, “to play the part of a Cretian,” and was identical with “to deceive, or to utter and circulate a lie.” “Evil beasts” is a phrase expressive of untamed ferocity, truculent selfishness, and greed; while “idle bellies,” or “do nothing gluttons,” completes a picture of most revolting national character. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Falsehood

I. Falsehood and deceit in word and deed is condemned, not only by the light of the Scriptures, but by the light of nature itself. Which appeareth expressly not only by the testimony of this Pagan poet, but by other lights in nature; for the natural conscience of man accuseth and checketh for it; yea, in children themselves, it maketh them blush at the report of a lie. Besides, the most graceless of men account it the highest disgrace to have the lie given them, the infamy of which vice is such as none will take to it, none will confess it. And on the contrary, the heathen so extolled truth, in word, in practice, as of all other virtues it was said to be the only daughter of Jupiter, as whom most nearly it resembled.

II. How should we who would be reputed god’s children abhor that practice, which even the sons of men are ashamed of? Shall the sparkles of natural light make the natural conscience of a heathen, and graceless man accuse him of this sin; and shall not the clear light of grace force the conscience of professed Christians to reprove them? Is it justly reputed a disgrace to common men, to be taken with a lie, how disgraceful should it be to Christian men? Shall the heathen profess truth to resemble God so expressly, as that it is His dear and only daughter, and shall Christians who find in the Scriptures the whole image of God, styled by the title, and comprehended under the name of truth, in their practice scarce express it as a part of that image?

1. Every lie is hurtful whether in jest or earnest, for evil or for good, because it is an enemy to truth, and against the ninth commandment.

2. For jesting or sporting lies, the threatening is general (Psalms 5:6), untruths may not be spoken although they be not thought. And many of the heathen themselves saw the silliness and folly of this shift; we read of the Lacedemonians, that they would not suffer their laws to be gainsaid in jest, and yet the law of the Lord may be controlled, and gainsaid in jest of Christians. When Thespis, the first stage player, was asked if he were not ashamed to utter so many lies in such a worthy audience, he answered, he did it in sport. But wise Solon replied, If we approve and commend this sport we shall find it in earnest in our contracts and affairs; and even so by God’s just judgment it befalls Christians, who, using to lie in sport, got an habit of lying in earnest, and by his jesting lies, raiseth a suspicion of his words, that he cannot be believed, be he never in such earnest.

3. For officious lies, so called, there can be no such, because in every lie some office or duty is violated. But they hurt no man; yes, if they hurt not another, they hurt a man’s self many ways; again, if they hurt not the parties for whom, yet they hurt the parties to whom they are told, who are abused, and urged to believe a lie, and were not this, yet they hurt and prejudice the truth which ought to prevail. But the end of them is good, Yea, but that which is evil in the nature and constitution may never be admitted, let the end be never so good which is pretended. The least evil may not be committed for the greatest good; to help man we may not hurt God. Nay, we may not tell the least lie for God’s greatest glory, and much less for man’s good (Job 13:9-10). But they be not against charity. Yes, for charity rejoiceth in truth, and if they were not, yet are they directly against piety, which two loving friends may admit no divorce.

III. And to help ourselves in this duty meditate on these reasons.

1. All falsehood and lies are directly against God Himself, who is truth itself; so as by them a man becometh most unlike unto God, and most like to the devil, who is the father and first founder of them.

2. That therefore the liar casteth himself into the gulf of God’s displeasure, seeing as He hateth all the works of the devil, so hath He testified special hatred against this. A lying tongue is one of the six things which the Lord hateth, and is abomination unto Him (Proverbs 12:22), and therefore doth with them as we do with the things we abhor; either removeth them out of sight by barring them out of heaven, or destroyeth them (Psalms 5:6).

3. That although that be the greatest plague to have the face of God set against them here, and to be cast from out of His face and blessed presence of joy hereafter, yet there are other inferior evils not to be contemned which wait at the heels of this sin.

The punishment of liars

When Aristotle, a Grecian philosopher and tutor of Alexander the Great, was asked what a man could gain by uttering falsehoods, he replied, “Not to be credited when he shall tell the truth.” On the contrary, it is related that when Petrarch, an Italian poet, a man of strict integrity, was summoned as a witness, and offered in the usual manner to take an oath before a court of justice, the judge closed the book, saying, “As to you, Petrarch, your word is sufficient.” From the story of Petrarch we may learn how great respect is paid to those whose character for truth is established; and from the reply of Aristotle the folly as well as the wickedness of lying. In the country of Siam, a kingdom of Asia, he who tells a lie is punished, according to law, by having his mouth sewed up. This may appear dreadful; but no severity is too great against one who commits so great a sin. We read likewise that God Almighty struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for not speaking the truth.

The gospel offered to the worst

This is indeed a fearful character, which the apostle says is perfectly true. The island must have been in a fearful condition, for the apostle is always in the habit of speaking mildly even of those who are blameworthy. If their guilt had not been enormous, he would never have rebuked them so severely, nor given such stringent commands to Titus to rebuke them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith; And here we should remark how wonderful the love of God is, which reaches down to the lowest of the species, and elevates such brutish natures into the likeness of the Son of God, and lifts them up to the throne of His glory! In the midst of that pandemonian isle is the Church of God planted, like an oasis in the desert waste, like a lighthouse in the raging seas, to give rest and direction to all who will listen to the calls of Divine mercy. Oh, how admirable, how glorious, is that God, who, like the father of the lost son, opens His house and His bosom to a vile, wretched, prodigal world! Art thou a Cretian? art thou a liar, a glutton, and a brute? then the message of the love of God is to you--even to you; and if you receive it you shall shine among the saints in light forever! The world says perhaps of you, as the proverb did of old, “The three worst C’s in the world are Cappadocia, Crete, and Cilicia”; yet unto these habitations of iniquity and dens of devils the grace of God penetrated, and multitudes were drawn to the Lord. The gospel is for thee, brother, in all thy vileness and guilt; and Jesus, who loved thee, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Come to Him, and be saved. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Evil beasts

Bestiality in men

1. In becoming without understanding, and in all the things of God by nature as ignorant as the brute beasts (Psalms 73:22; Jeremiah 10:14; Proverbs 20:24).

2. By giving up themselves to be led with sensuality as brute beasts (2 Peter 2:12). This naturally arises out of the former; for when men are deprived of understanding, judgment, reason, as every natural man is in the things of God, they must needs be led by other guides, of lusts, appetite, sense, and sight, even as the beasts are.

3. By the practice of many beastly and brutish properties. For what properties have unregenerate men, which are not more beseeming evil and hurtful beasts than men?

Like a beast

We have a common saying when we see ourselves overseen or overtaken in any temporal and outward thing, Oh, what a beast was I! but well were it if we would seriously thus accuse ourselves when we have failed in our godly course, and to say, Oh, what a beast was I to leave the direction of the Word; and suffer myself to be led by my appetite, or by the lust of my heart, or the sight of mine eyes to this or that sin? Alas, that I to whom God hath given reason, judgment, election, deliberation, yea, His Word and Spirit, should live all this while as one destitute of all these. I understand not what the good and acceptable will of God is, but am yet like the horse and mule without understanding. I have stepped my ears st the Word like the deaf adder, and have refused the things of my peace; I have barked against God and godliness; I have wallowed in my uncleanness like a swine in his own filth; I have been unmerciful and cruel as any lion or wolf; I have spared no prey, and as subtle as any fox to deceive my brethren. I have spit Out my venom both to the face and behind the backs of my neighbours, and especially against the household of faith, the professors of religion. Oh, what a beast was I in all this! But now seeing my understanding is restored unto me again, I will never hereafter carry myself but like a man, not making my lusts my law any longer, but reason shall be my guide; nay, nor that only, but, like a Christian man, I will by God’s grace suffer myself to be guided henceforth by renewed reason, yea, by the Word and Spirit of God. If I must needs in anything resemble the beasts it shall be the ox and ass, in knowing my Lord and Master; the stork, and crane, and swallow, in acknowledging the seasonable time of my repentance, the serpent in Christian wisdom, the lamb and dove in Christian meekness and innocence, and thus resembling them, I neither shall be nor accounted a beast, nor yet be condemned by any of them. But if any, loath to leave his brutish properties, will be a beast still and follow his lust, it is fit he should see the end of his way in one of his predecessors (Proverbs 7:22). (T. Taylor, D. D.)

This testimony is true

Ministers must not be discouraged from their duty, though they have to deal with a brutish and wretched people

This testimony being true, Titus might have been discouraged, and occasioned hereby to meditate his departure from them as a hopeless people, or to repine that the apostle should place him among such a company of beasts rather than men. But yet Titus muse and does with courage go on in his work among them, and plough up to the Lord even this stiff ground. It is the lot of many gracious ministers to be called and planted among rude, barbarous, and beastly people, such as these Cretians were, yea, among viperous broods who will reward their faithful pains and travail in begetting them to God with extremity of wrong and violence (Jeremiah 26:8). And little comfort find they, unless the Lord give them a breathing time by the means of some Ahikam or other (verse 24) Now what must the minister do in this case? Surely, as he came not of his own head, so now is he not at his own hand to remove himself at his pleasure. And if he should depart upon this ground, he should perhaps meet with less comfort in leaving an uncomfortable people than in staying amongst them. If God bid Jonah arise and go to Nineveh, but he will betake himself to a ministry of more credit and less labour, the Lord will teach him, before he get to Tarshish, that he is not his own man, and that no creature shall shelter him from trouble whilst he flieth it as fast as he can. If Moses be called to speak to Pharaoh, he must not excuse the matter, saying, “But they will not believe me.” The Lord is said to hold the ministers in His hand, and Christ the “seven stars in His right hand” (Revelation 1:1-20). First, in regard of His disposition of them here and there at His pleasure. Secondly, of His protection of them in their labours. And some He sendeth, and all the heartening they have of Him beforehand is, “But they will not receive thee,” as Moses and some of the prophets; and that is not all, but they must prepare brows of brass, their shoulders to bear reproaches and wrongs, their backs for stripes, their feet for fetters and stocks, yea, their necks for the very block itself. In like manner Christ, sending out His disciples, forbids them to possess gold and silver, and wisheth them to possess patience, for they should stand more in need of that than the other; and telleth them, that if Himself, the green tree, could not be spared, much less should they the dry branches; and that if the master be called Beelzebub, the servant must not look to escape scot free. And therefore ministers called to such an uncomfortable condition must imitate Paul who, although he knew that bonds and imprisonment did abide him in every city, yet forward he must, and provoketh his own readiness and cheerfulness not only to be bound, but to suffer also the pains of death, for the testimony he beareth: considering well

1. That the disciples themselves, sent from the side of Christ, must make account to be hated of all men for His name’s sake.

2. That although they see no great comfort or fruit of their works with men, yet their work is with the Lord.

3. That the Lord Jesus, foretelling His death at Jerusalem, yet went forward, and would not pity Himself for all Peter’s friendly counsel, but pitied His flock, His body, His Church, more than Himself: a worthy example for the practice of all His ministers. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Rebuke them sharply

Sharply

Here we have another adoption of the phraseology of health or “soundness” in relation to the faith. Probably it was suggested to the apostle by the previous adoption of phrases indicative of disease, and of severe remedies. A sharp knife, instruments of cautery, firm handling, free incisions, are needed for some poisonous and putrefying sores; and as in former days Titus had to show the Corinthians how to purge out the old leaven, to deliver wicked persons to Satan, to rebuke pretentious sciolism and proclaim “no quarter” to certain kinds of vice, so once more he had to lift up his voice like a trumpet, and out of sheer kindness was commanded not to spare them. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Different modes of dealing with different sins

According to the nature of sins and sinners we must set an edge upon our reproofs and sharpen them; for all sins are not of one size, nor all sinners of one strain; but some sins are more enormous than others, and some sinners are more obstinate than others. Some sins are of ignorance, some of malice; some secret, some open; some sinners are as wax to work on; some are stony and stiff-necked; some have here and there their freckles and frailties on them: others are spotted all over like leopards, or, like the Ethiopian, they never change their hue; no washing doeth them good. Now, we must wisely put a difference between both. Compassion must be showed upon some; and others, whom love cannot allure, fear must force. Some must be saved by love, and some be pulled out of the fire. Some sores need but a gentle lenitive, some a sharper drawer; some require but the prick of a needle to open them, others a more painful lancing and cutting; and some a cutting off. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Christian reproof

I. Christian reproof should always be based on a certain convicting. Mere hearsay insufficient; general rumour unreliable. Inquisitorial curiosity different from faithful watchfulness.

II. Christian reproof should be thorough and effective. A cutting rebuke need not be unkind. Sarcasm, satire, scorn--these are unbecoming a Christian teacher. Soft words break hard hearts; warmth melts, while coldness freezes.

III. Christian reproof should be for the sinner’s good--“That they may be sound in the faith.” Wrong motives:

1. To save appearances.

2. To maintain dignity.

3. To gratify revenge.

Right motives:

1. To save the purity of the Church.

2. To prevent the spread of contagion.

3. To restore to spiritual life and privilege. (F. Wagstaff.)

The object of rebukes

The sharpest rebukes in the Church ought to aim at this end, the recovery of diseased Christians to soundness in religion both in judgment and practice; which appeareth in that the greatest ordinary censure in the Church is not mortal but medicinal. For as a surgeon cuts off arms and legs that the body and heart may be saved, so in this body, parts and members are cut off that themselves may be saved as well as their whole body. Paul excommunicateth the incestuous person that his spirit might be saved. Hymineus and Philetus were cast out to Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme. Those whom Jude wisheth to be pulled out of the fire by violence, must be saved thereby. If any object against this that in 1 Corinthians 16:21, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be had in execration to the death.” And therefore edification and salvation is not the end of this censure. I answer, “It is one thing for the Church to excommunicate, another to curse and execrate; the one is an ordinary censure, the other very extraordinary and rare; the one against those who may be friends of the Church, the other only against desperate enemies, and open and obstinate apostates, even such as Julian, whom the Church judgeth to have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, and therefore execrateth and accurseth.” (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Sharp rebukes sometimes needed

The words is a metaphor taken from surgeons, who cut out dead flesh to the quick, but it is in order to healing. Cutting words have done great cures: many a diseased, festered soul has been made sound, both in faith and manners, by severe reprehension. Learn hence, that although, generally speaking, we ought to temper our reproofs with much gentleness and meekness, yet there is a time when we must reprove sharply, that men may be “sound in the faith.” We may, we must speak cutting words when kind words will not do. (W. R. Burkitt, M. A.)

A sharp rebuke

A young clergyman came to the house of his sister, and found quite a company round the table--among them a talkative military gentle man, who rather freely flavoured his wit with perverted Bible quotations and anti-Christian innuendos. A bantering remark about God that amounted to no less than a parade of his atheism aroused the hostess at last. “You seem to forget that my brother here is a minister of the gospel,” she said. “Oh!” quoth the unabashed officer, “my clerical friend and I understand each other”; and turning to the young man, with patronising impudence he asked, “Is it not so, sir? Your office requires you to tell the old story, which for the ignorant may do very well to believe, but as a man of culture you yourself cannot put faith in these worn-out doctrines.” The clergyman eyed his questioner a minute, and then said, “Sir, before answering your question, I must ask you three. You are an atheist. Such people have always been in the world. One class of these are thinkers who have speculated and groped till they have fallen into despair, and said, ‘There is no God.’ Do you belong to that class?” “No,” laughed the officer; “thinking is not to my taste. I am no philosopher.” “Another class are those who speak frivolously of God merely because they learned to do it where such talk was the fashion. Are you one of them? No, sir,” said the officer, slightly reddening; “I am not a blind follower of others.” “There is but one more class of atheists,” quietly continued the minister--“those who have wallowed in sin till they must either expect the horrors of remorse or kill their conscience; and, as the shortest way to get rid of it, they declare that there is no God.” This time the clergyman did not utter his question; but the eyes of the whole company, turned on the confused scoffer, made both question and answer needless.

Fidelity in administering reproof

The Rev. Joseph Alleine was very faithful and impartial in administering reproof. Once, when employed in a work of this kind, he said to a Christian friend, “I am now going about that which is likely to make a very dear and obliging friend become an enemy. But, however, it cannot be omitted; it is better to lose man’s favour than God’s.” But, so far from becoming his enemy for his conscientious faithfulness to him, he rather loved him the more after, as long as he lived.

The reproof of a good man

The reproof of a good man resembles fuller’s earth; it not only removes the spots from our character, but it rubs off when it is dry.


Verse 12-13

Titus 1:12-13

The Cretians are always liars

A classical quotation

It is not often that St.
Paul quoted from the treasuries of classic literature, and when he did so he did not draw upon the most celebrated of the Greek poets. The Hymn of Cleanthes gave him a text in his speech on Mars’ Hill; the treatise of Epimenides “concerning oracles” furnished him with another. Epimenides was a Cretian poet of religious character and prophetic claims, who visited Athens 599 b.c., and who shortly afterwards died, at the advanced age of a hundred and fifty. He appears to have uttered a terse drastic proverb, a bitter epigrammatic characterisation of his fellow countrymen, a portion of which, “The Cretians are always liars,” was quoted by Callimachus in his hymn to Zeus. Theodoret attributes the whole quotation to Callimachus. Jerome, Chrysostom, and Epiphanius, agree to refer this severe indictment against the Cretians to Epimenides, the semi-mythical and prophetic minstrel and priest. The severity of the condemnation did not interfere with the tradition preserved by Diogenes Laertius, that the Cretians did sacrificial honour to him as a god. According to Diogenes, stories manifestly fabulous are told of Epimenides, and he is credited with having written numerous treatises and poems. (
H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

The character of the Cretians

The charge of falsehood is repeated undoubtedly by Callimachus, and this characteristic must have been deserved, if we are to trust the host of testimonies to the same effect from other sources. The very word “Cretize” was invented, meaning, “to play the part of a Cretian,” and was identical with “to deceive, or to utter and circulate a lie.” “Evil beasts” is a phrase expressive of untamed ferocity, truculent selfishness, and greed; while “idle bellies,” or “do nothing gluttons,” completes a picture of most revolting national character. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Falsehood

I. Falsehood and deceit in word and deed is condemned, not only by the light of the Scriptures, but by the light of nature itself. Which appeareth expressly not only by the testimony of this Pagan poet, but by other lights in nature; for the natural conscience of man accuseth and checketh for it; yea, in children themselves, it maketh them blush at the report of a lie. Besides, the most graceless of men account it the highest disgrace to have the lie given them, the infamy of which vice is such as none will take to it, none will confess it. And on the contrary, the heathen so extolled truth, in word, in practice, as of all other virtues it was said to be the only daughter of Jupiter, as whom most nearly it resembled.

II. How should we who would be reputed god’s children abhor that practice, which even the sons of men are ashamed of? Shall the sparkles of natural light make the natural conscience of a heathen, and graceless man accuse him of this sin; and shall not the clear light of grace force the conscience of professed Christians to reprove them? Is it justly reputed a disgrace to common men, to be taken with a lie, how disgraceful should it be to Christian men? Shall the heathen profess truth to resemble God so expressly, as that it is His dear and only daughter, and shall Christians who find in the Scriptures the whole image of God, styled by the title, and comprehended under the name of truth, in their practice scarce express it as a part of that image?

1. Every lie is hurtful whether in jest or earnest, for evil or for good, because it is an enemy to truth, and against the ninth commandment.

2. For jesting or sporting lies, the threatening is general (Psalms 5:6), untruths may not be spoken although they be not thought. And many of the heathen themselves saw the silliness and folly of this shift; we read of the Lacedemonians, that they would not suffer their laws to be gainsaid in jest, and yet the law of the Lord may be controlled, and gainsaid in jest of Christians. When Thespis, the first stage player, was asked if he were not ashamed to utter so many lies in such a worthy audience, he answered, he did it in sport. But wise Solon replied, If we approve and commend this sport we shall find it in earnest in our contracts and affairs; and even so by God’s just judgment it befalls Christians, who, using to lie in sport, got an habit of lying in earnest, and by his jesting lies, raiseth a suspicion of his words, that he cannot be believed, be he never in such earnest.

3. For officious lies, so called, there can be no such, because in every lie some office or duty is violated. But they hurt no man; yes, if they hurt not another, they hurt a man’s self many ways; again, if they hurt not the parties for whom, yet they hurt the parties to whom they are told, who are abused, and urged to believe a lie, and were not this, yet they hurt and prejudice the truth which ought to prevail. But the end of them is good, Yea, but that which is evil in the nature and constitution may never be admitted, let the end be never so good which is pretended. The least evil may not be committed for the greatest good; to help man we may not hurt God. Nay, we may not tell the least lie for God’s greatest glory, and much less for man’s good (Job 13:9-10). But they be not against charity. Yes, for charity rejoiceth in truth, and if they were not, yet are they directly against piety, which two loving friends may admit no divorce.

III. And to help ourselves in this duty meditate on these reasons.

1. All falsehood and lies are directly against God Himself, who is truth itself; so as by them a man becometh most unlike unto God, and most like to the devil, who is the father and first founder of them.

2. That therefore the liar casteth himself into the gulf of God’s displeasure, seeing as He hateth all the works of the devil, so hath He testified special hatred against this. A lying tongue is one of the six things which the Lord hateth, and is abomination unto Him (Proverbs 12:22), and therefore doth with them as we do with the things we abhor; either removeth them out of sight by barring them out of heaven, or destroyeth them (Psalms 5:6).

3. That although that be the greatest plague to have the face of God set against them here, and to be cast from out of His face and blessed presence of joy hereafter, yet there are other inferior evils not to be contemned which wait at the heels of this sin.

The punishment of liars

When Aristotle, a Grecian philosopher and tutor of Alexander the Great, was asked what a man could gain by uttering falsehoods, he replied, “Not to be credited when he shall tell the truth.” On the contrary, it is related that when Petrarch, an Italian poet, a man of strict integrity, was summoned as a witness, and offered in the usual manner to take an oath before a court of justice, the judge closed the book, saying, “As to you, Petrarch, your word is sufficient.” From the story of Petrarch we may learn how great respect is paid to those whose character for truth is established; and from the reply of Aristotle the folly as well as the wickedness of lying. In the country of Siam, a kingdom of Asia, he who tells a lie is punished, according to law, by having his mouth sewed up. This may appear dreadful; but no severity is too great against one who commits so great a sin. We read likewise that God Almighty struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for not speaking the truth.

The gospel offered to the worst

This is indeed a fearful character, which the apostle says is perfectly true. The island must have been in a fearful condition, for the apostle is always in the habit of speaking mildly even of those who are blameworthy. If their guilt had not been enormous, he would never have rebuked them so severely, nor given such stringent commands to Titus to rebuke them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith; And here we should remark how wonderful the love of God is, which reaches down to the lowest of the species, and elevates such brutish natures into the likeness of the Son of God, and lifts them up to the throne of His glory! In the midst of that pandemonian isle is the Church of God planted, like an oasis in the desert waste, like a lighthouse in the raging seas, to give rest and direction to all who will listen to the calls of Divine mercy. Oh, how admirable, how glorious, is that God, who, like the father of the lost son, opens His house and His bosom to a vile, wretched, prodigal world! Art thou a Cretian? art thou a liar, a glutton, and a brute? then the message of the love of God is to you--even to you; and if you receive it you shall shine among the saints in light forever! The world says perhaps of you, as the proverb did of old, “The three worst C’s in the world are Cappadocia, Crete, and Cilicia”; yet unto these habitations of iniquity and dens of devils the grace of God penetrated, and multitudes were drawn to the Lord. The gospel is for thee, brother, in all thy vileness and guilt; and Jesus, who loved thee, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Come to Him, and be saved. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Evil beasts

Bestiality in men

1. In becoming without understanding, and in all the things of God by nature as ignorant as the brute beasts (Psalms 73:22; Jeremiah 10:14; Proverbs 20:24).

2. By giving up themselves to be led with sensuality as brute beasts (2 Peter 2:12). This naturally arises out of the former; for when men are deprived of understanding, judgment, reason, as every natural man is in the things of God, they must needs be led by other guides, of lusts, appetite, sense, and sight, even as the beasts are.

3. By the practice of many beastly and brutish properties. For what properties have unregenerate men, which are not more beseeming evil and hurtful beasts than men?

Like a beast

We have a common saying when we see ourselves overseen or overtaken in any temporal and outward thing, Oh, what a beast was I! but well were it if we would seriously thus accuse ourselves when we have failed in our godly course, and to say, Oh, what a beast was I to leave the direction of the Word; and suffer myself to be led by my appetite, or by the lust of my heart, or the sight of mine eyes to this or that sin? Alas, that I to whom God hath given reason, judgment, election, deliberation, yea, His Word and Spirit, should live all this while as one destitute of all these. I understand not what the good and acceptable will of God is, but am yet like the horse and mule without understanding. I have stepped my ears st the Word like the deaf adder, and have refused the things of my peace; I have barked against God and godliness; I have wallowed in my uncleanness like a swine in his own filth; I have been unmerciful and cruel as any lion or wolf; I have spared no prey, and as subtle as any fox to deceive my brethren. I have spit Out my venom both to the face and behind the backs of my neighbours, and especially against the household of faith, the professors of religion. Oh, what a beast was I in all this! But now seeing my understanding is restored unto me again, I will never hereafter carry myself but like a man, not making my lusts my law any longer, but reason shall be my guide; nay, nor that only, but, like a Christian man, I will by God’s grace suffer myself to be guided henceforth by renewed reason, yea, by the Word and Spirit of God. If I must needs in anything resemble the beasts it shall be the ox and ass, in knowing my Lord and Master; the stork, and crane, and swallow, in acknowledging the seasonable time of my repentance, the serpent in Christian wisdom, the lamb and dove in Christian meekness and innocence, and thus resembling them, I neither shall be nor accounted a beast, nor yet be condemned by any of them. But if any, loath to leave his brutish properties, will be a beast still and follow his lust, it is fit he should see the end of his way in one of his predecessors (Proverbs 7:22). (T. Taylor, D. D.)

This testimony is true

Ministers must not be discouraged from their duty, though they have to deal with a brutish and wretched people

This testimony being true, Titus might have been discouraged, and occasioned hereby to meditate his departure from them as a hopeless people, or to repine that the apostle should place him among such a company of beasts rather than men. But yet Titus muse and does with courage go on in his work among them, and plough up to the Lord even this stiff ground. It is the lot of many gracious ministers to be called and planted among rude, barbarous, and beastly people, such as these Cretians were, yea, among viperous broods who will reward their faithful pains and travail in begetting them to God with extremity of wrong and violence (Jeremiah 26:8). And little comfort find they, unless the Lord give them a breathing time by the means of some Ahikam or other (verse 24) Now what must the minister do in this case? Surely, as he came not of his own head, so now is he not at his own hand to remove himself at his pleasure. And if he should depart upon this ground, he should perhaps meet with less comfort in leaving an uncomfortable people than in staying amongst them. If God bid Jonah arise and go to Nineveh, but he will betake himself to a ministry of more credit and less labour, the Lord will teach him, before he get to Tarshish, that he is not his own man, and that no creature shall shelter him from trouble whilst he flieth it as fast as he can. If Moses be called to speak to Pharaoh, he must not excuse the matter, saying, “But they will not believe me.” The Lord is said to hold the ministers in His hand, and Christ the “seven stars in His right hand” (Revelation 1:1-20). First, in regard of His disposition of them here and there at His pleasure. Secondly, of His protection of them in their labours. And some He sendeth, and all the heartening they have of Him beforehand is, “But they will not receive thee,” as Moses and some of the prophets; and that is not all, but they must prepare brows of brass, their shoulders to bear reproaches and wrongs, their backs for stripes, their feet for fetters and stocks, yea, their necks for the very block itself. In like manner Christ, sending out His disciples, forbids them to possess gold and silver, and wisheth them to possess patience, for they should stand more in need of that than the other; and telleth them, that if Himself, the green tree, could not be spared, much less should they the dry branches; and that if the master be called Beelzebub, the servant must not look to escape scot free. And therefore ministers called to such an uncomfortable condition must imitate Paul who, although he knew that bonds and imprisonment did abide him in every city, yet forward he must, and provoketh his own readiness and cheerfulness not only to be bound, but to suffer also the pains of death, for the testimony he beareth: considering well

1. That the disciples themselves, sent from the side of Christ, must make account to be hated of all men for His name’s sake.

2. That although they see no great comfort or fruit of their works with men, yet their work is with the Lord.

3. That the Lord Jesus, foretelling His death at Jerusalem, yet went forward, and would not pity Himself for all Peter’s friendly counsel, but pitied His flock, His body, His Church, more than Himself: a worthy example for the practice of all His ministers. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Rebuke them sharply

Sharply

Here we have another adoption of the phraseology of health or “soundness” in relation to the faith. Probably it was suggested to the apostle by the previous adoption of phrases indicative of disease, and of severe remedies. A sharp knife, instruments of cautery, firm handling, free incisions, are needed for some poisonous and putrefying sores; and as in former days Titus had to show the Corinthians how to purge out the old leaven, to deliver wicked persons to Satan, to rebuke pretentious sciolism and proclaim “no quarter” to certain kinds of vice, so once more he had to lift up his voice like a trumpet, and out of sheer kindness was commanded not to spare them. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Different modes of dealing with different sins

According to the nature of sins and sinners we must set an edge upon our reproofs and sharpen them; for all sins are not of one size, nor all sinners of one strain; but some sins are more enormous than others, and some sinners are more obstinate than others. Some sins are of ignorance, some of malice; some secret, some open; some sinners are as wax to work on; some are stony and stiff-necked; some have here and there their freckles and frailties on them: others are spotted all over like leopards, or, like the Ethiopian, they never change their hue; no washing doeth them good. Now, we must wisely put a difference between both. Compassion must be showed upon some; and others, whom love cannot allure, fear must force. Some must be saved by love, and some be pulled out of the fire. Some sores need but a gentle lenitive, some a sharper drawer; some require but the prick of a needle to open them, others a more painful lancing and cutting; and some a cutting off. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Christian reproof

I. Christian reproof should always be based on a certain convicting. Mere hearsay insufficient; general rumour unreliable. Inquisitorial curiosity different from faithful watchfulness.

II. Christian reproof should be thorough and effective. A cutting rebuke need not be unkind. Sarcasm, satire, scorn--these are unbecoming a Christian teacher. Soft words break hard hearts; warmth melts, while coldness freezes.

III. Christian reproof should be for the sinner’s good--“That they may be sound in the faith.” Wrong motives:

1. To save appearances.

2. To maintain dignity.

3. To gratify revenge.

Right motives:

1. To save the purity of the Church.

2. To prevent the spread of contagion.

3. To restore to spiritual life and privilege. (F. Wagstaff.)

The object of rebukes

The sharpest rebukes in the Church ought to aim at this end, the recovery of diseased Christians to soundness in religion both in judgment and practice; which appeareth in that the greatest ordinary censure in the Church is not mortal but medicinal. For as a surgeon cuts off arms and legs that the body and heart may be saved, so in this body, parts and members are cut off that themselves may be saved as well as their whole body. Paul excommunicateth the incestuous person that his spirit might be saved. Hymineus and Philetus were cast out to Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme. Those whom Jude wisheth to be pulled out of the fire by violence, must be saved thereby. If any object against this that in 1 Corinthians 16:21, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be had in execration to the death.” And therefore edification and salvation is not the end of this censure. I answer, “It is one thing for the Church to excommunicate, another to curse and execrate; the one is an ordinary censure, the other very extraordinary and rare; the one against those who may be friends of the Church, the other only against desperate enemies, and open and obstinate apostates, even such as Julian, whom the Church judgeth to have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, and therefore execrateth and accurseth.” (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Sharp rebukes sometimes needed

The words is a metaphor taken from surgeons, who cut out dead flesh to the quick, but it is in order to healing. Cutting words have done great cures: many a diseased, festered soul has been made sound, both in faith and manners, by severe reprehension. Learn hence, that although, generally speaking, we ought to temper our reproofs with much gentleness and meekness, yet there is a time when we must reprove sharply, that men may be “sound in the faith.” We may, we must speak cutting words when kind words will not do. (W. R. Burkitt, M. A.)

A sharp rebuke

A young clergyman came to the house of his sister, and found quite a company round the table--among them a talkative military gentle man, who rather freely flavoured his wit with perverted Bible quotations and anti-Christian innuendos. A bantering remark about God that amounted to no less than a parade of his atheism aroused the hostess at last. “You seem to forget that my brother here is a minister of the gospel,” she said. “Oh!” quoth the unabashed officer, “my clerical friend and I understand each other”; and turning to the young man, with patronising impudence he asked, “Is it not so, sir? Your office requires you to tell the old story, which for the ignorant may do very well to believe, but as a man of culture you yourself cannot put faith in these worn-out doctrines.” The clergyman eyed his questioner a minute, and then said, “Sir, before answering your question, I must ask you three. You are an atheist. Such people have always been in the world. One class of these are thinkers who have speculated and groped till they have fallen into despair, and said, ‘There is no God.’ Do you belong to that class?” “No,” laughed the officer; “thinking is not to my taste. I am no philosopher.” “Another class are those who speak frivolously of God merely because they learned to do it where such talk was the fashion. Are you one of them? No, sir,” said the officer, slightly reddening; “I am not a blind follower of others.” “There is but one more class of atheists,” quietly continued the minister--“those who have wallowed in sin till they must either expect the horrors of remorse or kill their conscience; and, as the shortest way to get rid of it, they declare that there is no God.” This time the clergyman did not utter his question; but the eyes of the whole company, turned on the confused scoffer, made both question and answer needless.

Fidelity in administering reproof

The Rev. Joseph Alleine was very faithful and impartial in administering reproof. Once, when employed in a work of this kind, he said to a Christian friend, “I am now going about that which is likely to make a very dear and obliging friend become an enemy. But, however, it cannot be omitted; it is better to lose man’s favour than God’s.” But, so far from becoming his enemy for his conscientious faithfulness to him, he rather loved him the more after, as long as he lived.

The reproof of a good man

The reproof of a good man resembles fuller’s earth; it not only removes the spots from our character, but it rubs off when it is dry.


Verse 14

Titus 1:14

Not giving heed to Jewish fables

The perverting power of trivialities

Trivialities, and mere human conceptions, exert a perverting power

Truth, in its essence, always of more importance than the form in which it is clothed. The “spirit” is greater than the “letter.” (F. Wagstaff.)

Jewish fables to be rejected

I. Although all fables in matter of religion are to be rejected, yet especially he mentioneth these of the jews, because they were most dangerous of all.

1. Because they directly opposed themselves as the overthrowers of the whole doctrine of the gospel and the merit of Christ.

2. They were persuaded under most strong pretences, for they came as from God’s own mouth, and from His own people, from such as were born under the law, so as they were urged as things of surest ground and strongest authority from God Himself and His greatest prophet Moses.

II. But what were these fables?

1. Under this head may be comprehended all the false glosses and false interpretations of the law of Moses, urging the external and literal, but not the internal and spiritual meaning of the law; for which corruption Christ challengeth the Jewish teachers (Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29).

2. All their fabulous invention in their Talmud, such as that concerning the coming of the Messiah, and the great feast at His coming; and of the fruitfulness of the earth, which at that time shall bring forth instead of ears of corn, loaves of bread; and a number such, of which St. Paul saith, they are for number infinite, and for use unprofitable.

3. But the context in the verse following pointeth us to expound them of some other than these, namely, of all those doctrines of the Jews which conceived the legal and ceremonial observation of days, meats, drinks, garments, washings, persons and peoples: for the Jews taught that the same difference remained to be obtained still, as Moses from the Lord commanded it; so as yet some meats were common and some clean; some days were more holy than others; so garments and persons much more lay open to legal pollution by issues, touchings, etc., whereas the appearing of Christ procured final freedom from all such impurity, so as, according to Peter’s vision (Acts 10:1-48), no man, no thing is to be called polluted or unclean.

III. But why doth the apostle call such doctrines fables seeing

1. They were from God.

2. Necessarily imposed upon God’s own people in pain of death and cutting off from His people in case of contempt, yea or omission.

3. They included in them that evangelical truth whereby both they and we are saved.

Yet for all this he termeth them so.

1. Because even these legal constitutions of God Himself, when they were at the best, were but actual apologies, or shadows of things to come, carrying a show or figure of truth, but not the body, nor the truth itself: to the same effect, saith Paul (Galatians 4:24), that they were allegories; that is, being the things that they were, signified the things that they were not.

2. Because those constitutions, although they had their times and seasons, yet now were they dated: and now to teach or urge them was as vain, as void of ground out of Scripture, as void of profit, as void of truth, as if they had taught the most vain, fictious, and unprofitable falsehoods that men could possibly devise. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

That turn from the truth

Rules to preserve us from being turned from the truth

1. Entertain it not for outward respects; neither for the laws of the land, nor the encouragement it hath, etc., as very many do, but for the love of itself: for that we affect, we easily turn not from it, no, nor are driven from it; and if we love it for outward respects, as those outward respects change, so will our affections. For example, if we love it for the prosperity of it, times of persecution will make us fall off, with Demas. If we hold it because we would hold our temporalities, the loss of it will be light in comparison of loss of goods, dignities, country, world, liberty and life, the least of these will the heart fasten upon, although with the loss of the truth, and with it of salvation also.

2. Practise so much of it as thou knowest, and the more thou practise, the more thou knowest, and the more thou knowest thus, the more thou lovest, and the surer dost thou bind it upon thyself; and this is the surest hold (John 7:17), when as in religion, faith and good conscience are joined together, for such as thy conscience is, such shalt thou be found in religion; without which, hear every hour a sermon, read over the Bible as often as he did, who gloried that he had read the text and gloss also fourteen times over, all this knowledge will not lift thee up to heaven.

3. Call no ground of this Divine truth into question, suspect not that which thou canst not reach, but accuse thine own weakness and ignorance: our first parents yielding at the first onset of Satan to call into question the truth of God, were turned away from all that image of God which stood in truth and holiness.

4. Beware of indifference in God’s matters; many think it good wisdom and policy to be on the yielding hand, and as wax fit to take all forms and the print of any religion; but the truth is, that such persons as are not rooted and stablished in the truth, when winds and storms arise, or the evil day approach, they shall not be able to stand; but as they have been long tottering, so their fall shall be great. (T. Taylor, D. D.)


Verse 15

Titus 1:15

Unto the pure all things are pure

The supreme importance of moral character

1.
There is an essential difference in the moral characters of men.

2. The outward world is to men according to this difference.

I. The morally pure in relation to all things.

1. In relation to appearance. A good man is neither given to suspicion nor censoriousness; he sees some good in all men.

2. In relation to influence. A good man, like the bee, can extract honey from the bitterest plant; or, like the AEolian harp, can turn the shrieking wind into music.

3. In relation to appropriation. A corrupt soul appropriates, even from the most strengthening and refreshing means of spiritual improvement, that which weakens and destroys.

II. The morally defiled in relation to all things.

1. The sphere of the defilement.

2. The cause of the defilement.

3. The hideousness of the defilement. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Purity

For the evils of this world there are two classes of remedies--one is the world’s, the other is God’s. The world proposes to remedy evil by adjusting the circumstances of this life to man’s desires. The world says, give us a perfect set of circumstances, and then we shall have a set of perfect men. This principle lies at the root of the system called socialism. Socialism proceeds on the principle that all moral and even physical evil arises from unjust laws. If the cause be remedied, the effect will be good. But Christianity throws aside all that as merely chimerical. It proves that the fault is not in outward circumstances, but in ourselves. Like the wise physician, who, instead of busying himself with transcendental theories to improve the climate, and the outward circumstances of man, endeavours to relieve and get rid of the tendencies of disease which are from within, Christianity, leaving all outward circumstances to ameliorate themselves, fastens its attention on the spirit which has to deal with them.

I. The principle that St. Paul has here laid down is, that each man is the creator of his own world; he walks in a universe of his own creation. As the free air is to one out of health the cause of cold and diseased lungs, so to the healthy man it is a source of greater vigour. The rotten fruit is sweet to the worm, but nauseous to the palate of man. It is the same air and the same fruit acting differently upon different beings. To different men a different world--to one all pollution--to another all purity. To the noble all things are noble, to the mean all things are contemptible. In its strictest sense, the creation of a new man is the creation of a new universe. Conceive an eye so constructed as that the planets and all within them should be minutely seen, and all that is near should be dim and invisible like things seen through a telescope, or as we see through a magnifying glass the plumage of the butterfly, and the bloom upon the peach; then it is manifestly clear that we have called into existence actually a new creation, and not new objects. The mind’s eye creates a world for itself. Again, the visible world presents a different aspect to each individual man. One man sees in that noble river an emblem of eternity; he closes his lips and feels that God is there. Another sees nothing in it but a very convenient road for transporting his spices, silks, and merchandise. To one this world appears useful, to another beautiful. Whence comes the difference? From the soul within us. It can make of this world a vast chaos--“a mighty maze without a plan”; or a mere machine--a collection of lifeless forces; or it can make it the living vesture of God, the tissue through which He can become visible to us. In the spirit in which we look on it the world is an arena for mere self-advancement, or a place for noble deeds, in which self is forgotten, and God is all. Observe, this effect is traceable even in that produced by our different and changeful moods. We make and unmake a world more than once in the space of a single day. In trifling moods all seems trivial. In serious moods all seems solemn.

II. There are two ways in which this principle is true.

1. To the pure, all things and all persons are pure, because their purity makes all seem pure. There are some who go through life complaining of this world; they say they have found nothing but treachery and deceit; the poor are ungrateful, and the rich are selfish, yet we do not find such the best men. Experience tells us that each man most keenly and unerringly detects in others the vice with which he is most familiar himself. Persons seem to each man what he is himself. One who suspects hypocrisy in the world is rarely transparent; the man constantly on the watch for cheating is generally dishonest; he who suspects impurity is prurient. This is the principle to which Christ alludes when He says, “Give alms of such things as ye have; and behold all things are clean unto you.” Once more, to the pure all things are pure, as well as all persons. That which is natural lies not in things, but in the minds of men. There is a difference between prudery and modesty. Prudery detects wrong where no wrong is; the wrong lies in the thoughts, and not in the objects. There is something of over-sensitiveness and over-delicacy which shows not innocence, but an inflammable imagination. And men of the world cannot understand that those subjects and thoughts which to them are full of torture, can be harmless, suggesting nothing evil to the pure in heart. Here, however, beware! No sentence of Scripture is more frequently in the lips of persons who permit themselves much license, than the text, “To the pure, all things are pure.” Yes, all things natural, but not artificial--scenes which pamper the tastes, which excite the senses. Innocence feels healthily. To it all nature is pure. But, just as the dove trembles at the approach of the hawk, and the young calf shudders at the lion never seen before, so innocence shrinks instinctively from what is wrong by the same Divine instinct. If that which is wrong seems pure, then the heart is not pure but vitiated. To the right minded all that is right in the course of this world seems pure.

2. Again, to the pure, all things not only seem pure, but are really so because they are made such.

Purity

I. Who are meant by pure persons. The persons here called pure are such as by faith are set into Christ, by whose blood they are justified, and by whose Spirit, through the means of the Word, that immortal seed of regeneration, they are sanctified and reserved unto life everlasting. And hence to both these is the purifying and cleansing of sinners ascribed in the Scriptures.

1. Because by faith every member of the Church layeth hold upon Christ’s most absolute purity.

2. The spirit of regeneration hath washed every part, although in part only, nor so clean as it shall be, yet so as that perfect purity is sealed and assured to the soul by it.

3. The Lord doth account every such believer pure even for the present, and imputeth never a spot unto them, but reputeth in His Christ all fair.

4. Hath promised them that for time to come they shall become so absolutely clean as though they had never been defiled.

II. How all things are pure or impure.

1. Seeing all things were pure in their creation, we may herein, as in a glass, behold the purity of God in all His creatures, admiring that goodness of His which bewrayed itself even in the meanest of them; yea, provoking ourselves to love, reverence and fear before Him, the image of whose goodness shineth out not only in angels and men, but even in the silly worm and fly, yea in the lifeless creatures themselves. And further, hence we may gather our own duty towards the creatures, namely

2. Consider our misery, and the woeful fruit of our sin, which hath debarred us from all comfort in heaven and earth, from God or any of His creatures. The sweetest sins would carry a bitter taste, if we would but remember what sweet comfort of the creatures we have forfeited for them.

3. The restitution of us to our former right is only from our Lord Jesus Christ, and our first right is recovered to us in this manner. First, as we were at odds with the Creator, and consequently with the creature, even so first we are reconciled unto God through Christ, and then to the creatures; for when Christ (who is our peace) hath wrought our peace with God, He bringeth back our peace, both the inward peace of our own consciences, which before could do nothing but accuse and terrify, as also peace with others, friends and enemies, yea even with the beast of the field, and stone in the wall, and everything striketh a covenant of peace with him who hath entered into league with the Creator of it. II any man, then, would have any right in any creature he useth, he must not hold it by the broken title in the first Adam, but by a recovered and new purchase in the second Adam, who is the Lord of glory, blessed forever.

III. How all things are pure to the pure. That we may rightly and properly conceive the apostle’s meaning, we must know

1. That the universal particle “all things” admitteth restraint, and may not be extended beyond the apostle’s intendment, who speaketh only of such things as are not forbidden by the law of God, or nature; or rather only of things of an indifferent nature, which in themselves are neither commanded nor forbidden, and neither good nor evil in their substance and nature, but are to be used or not used according to the circumstances and occasions of them; such things as these are meat, drink, apparel, recreation, sleep, marriage, single life, riches, poverty, bondage, freedom, etc. And it may not seem strange thus to restrain this general proposition, seeing we have it thus limited in sundry other places (1 Corinthians 6:4). “All things are lawful, but not profitable” (1 Corinthians 10:23). “All things are lawful for me, but not expedient” (Romans 14:20). “All things indeed ere pure, but destroy not for meats,” etc.

2. By pure is meant nothing else but that all such things are free now to be used in good conscience, without scruple, by means of our Christian liberty.

3. In that he addeth “to the pure,” he showeth how we come to have title in this liberty, even by becoming believers and getting our hearts purified by faith. In one word, all indifferent things are pure, and free to be used of the pure and believing person, with this one condition; so they be purely and rightly used. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Purity of mind indispensable

I. The import of the terms. By “the pure” is not meant sinless. Evangelical purity is connected with faith (1 Peter 1:22; Acts 15:9). The mind and conscience are governing powers; if they be polluted, all the man is so.

II. Illustrate the sentiment.

1. On a believing mind the doctrines of Christ will have a sanctifying effect, and the contrary on an unbelieving mind.

2. On a believing mind precepts and even threatenings produce a salutary effect.

3. Mercies and judgments humble, melt, and soften some, but harden others.

4. The evils which occur amongst men, differently influence different characters.

5. The treatment received from men brings out the state of the heart. (A. Fuller.)

Purity

A pure lake is beautiful as it reflects the loveliness of the heavens, but a pure heart is more beautiful as it reflects the loveliness of God. (W. M. Statham, M. A.)

Even their mind and conscience is defiled

The faithlessness of conscience

That the conscience is so perverted in our present condition, that no confidence can be placed in its decision, is evident.

I. From the fact that these decisions can be correct in no other cases but those in which Divine truth is fully understood.

II. That the decisions of conscience are not always in accordance with the truth is evident from the fact that sinners are pot always convinced of sin.

III. This position is also sustained by the fact that the agency of the Holy Spirit is requisite to convince the world of sin.

IV. The faithlessness of conscience is apparent in the fact that hypocrites have not always an appalling sense of their hypocrisy.

V. This view of the subject is strengthened by the fact that even Christians do not always detect their own sins.

VI. This doctrine is evident from the fact that there is no command in the Scriptures to follow the dictates of conscience.

VII. And while there is no direction to follow the dictates of conscience, it is true that the Scriptures designate different consciences, and perhaps different states of the same conscience, by different and directly opposite terms.

VIII. This view of the subject is confirmed by the fact that the way to ruin seems to be the way of peace and eternal life. This is a very common and perhaps a general trait of the human family. The light that is in them by nature is darkness. They discern not the way in which they should go.

Lessons:--From this subject I infer

I. That God has placed no rule of duty within ourselves. Our reason was never designed to be our guide in spiritual things. Its only office is to understand the things which God has revealed in His Word, and in all cases reverently to bow to His authority. So long as its eyes are not opened by the power of the Holy Spirit, the understanding is in deplorable darkness. And even if it were capable of discerning all the principles of duty, its office is to gather them from the Word of God.

II. The subject teaches us that to live conscientiously is not in all cases to live godly. Conscience in its decisions has respect to some principles of life. These principles may be the fruit of our own reason. In this case, the decision will approach no nearer to truth than the principles are according to which the decision is made. Or it may decide according to the maxims of duty which it has learned from others. In this instance, as in the former, its decisions can claim no higher authority or greater correctness than the maxims according to which they are made. Or, if even the Scriptures be the rule according to which the decisions are made, then it will follow that the decisions themselves must be affected by the blindness of the understanding and by the weakness of conscience itself. And hence, to live conscientiously may vary widely from living accordingly to the commands of God.

III. The subject teaches what estimate to set on professions of acting conscientiously.

IV. The subject suggests the importance of praying for the purification of our conscience.

V. The subject suggests that our condition is very deplorable. We are exceedingly inclined to rely on our understandings to discover the way of life, and on the testimony of our consciences that we are walking in it. But not only are our natural understandings too blind to discover it, but our consciences are exceedingly apt falsely to decide that we are walking in it, even while we are wandering in darkness. Thus we are liable to think we are something when we are nothing. The way which we take may seem right unto us, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (J. Foot, D. D.)

Pollution of mind and conscience

By the mind is meant the whole understanding part of the soul, which, being the eye of the soul, carrieth with it reason, judgment, and election. The pollution of which, is, to be taken up with darkness and blindness (1 Corinthians 2:14); to be filled with vanity (Ephesians 4:17); with fleshliness (Colossians 2:18); in so much as all the natural wisdom of man is fleshly and devilish. By conscience is meant that faculty of the soul which, by applying particular things judged of and done, doth determine them either with or against them; which, depending upon the former, must necessarily be led into the errors of it, no otherwise than one blind man is led by another into a ditch. The pollution of it is when it is either idle or ill occupied; the former, when it is sleepy, senseless, or seared, doing nothing at all, neither accusing, nor excusing; the latter, when it doth both these, but neither of them as it ought, but accuseth where it should excuse, and excuse where it ought to accuse.

I. We have here a good argument of the divinity of scripture, in that it can, and doth (as God Himself) enter upon, and judge the thoughts of men; and of men themselves (not as men) from things without, but from things within, even according to their cleanness or uncleanness before God. From this argument the apostle proverb the same thing (Hebrews 4:12).

II. We learn further, what is the estate of a man unregenerate, whom the apostle setteth out thus.

1. He is one that is unclean.

2. An unbeliever.

3. One to whom nothing is pure.

4. His mind.

5. His conscience is polluted.

In all which respects he is a most odious person, in whom is nothing but filthiness of flesh and spirit, the which the pure eyes of the Lord cannot abide.

III. Before this natural uncleanness be purged everything is unclean unto a man; the unbeliever tainteth everything that he toucheth; nothing within him, nothing without him, which is not polluted, although not in his own nature, yet unto him and in his use. Let a natural man turn him to any action, word, or thought, all of them, not excepting the best, are against God, because they proceed from unclean minds and consciences.

1. His actions spiritual, even his best services, as praying, hearing, reading, receiving the sacraments, alms, all these being the sacrifices of the wicked, are abomination unto the Lord, who first looketh to the person, and then to the gift, who if he turn his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is abominable; if he choose his own ways, let him kill a bullock for sacrifice, it is all one as if he slew a man; if he be a polluted person that toucheth any of these holy things, shall they not be unclean? Yes, surely, the most Divine ordinances are turned to him to sin; for the Lord first requireth pure parts, and then pure actions (Ezekiel 36:26).

2. His civil actions, his honest dealing in the world, his buying, selling, giving, lending, his labour, care, yea, all the duties of his calling, are in and to him no better than sins.

3. His natural actions, as eating, drinking, sleeping, recreation, physic, all are unclean unto him.

4. All God’s creatures and human ordinances, as meat, drink, clothes, goods, lands, buildings, marriage, single estate; in a word, “the whole way of the wicked is abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 15:9). All these are witnesses of his sin and filthiness, all of them are enlargers of his woe and damnation, because he wanteth faith to lay hold on the Lord Jesus, whereby the just do live, have their heart purified, and so are made lords over the creatures. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Defilement of mind and conscience

The “mind” is more than the mere intellective faculty, and includes the activity of the will; and “conscience” is the moral self-consciousness which brings self, and the fact, and the entire behaviour of the soul and spirit, into judgment. This conscience may be “good” in the sense of being approving, or in the sense of being active; it may be “evil” in that it is torpid, seared or dead, and also in respect of its being accusing or condemnatory. Defilement of “mind” must mean that thoughts, ideas, desires, purposes, activities, are all corrupted and debased. Defilement of “conscience” would mean that the sentinel sent to watch was bribed to hold his peace, or that the guide to loftier standard was eagerly applying some base-born, man-made perilous rule as all-sufficient. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

A pure conscience cast aside

In the majority of cases conscience is an elastic and very flexible article, which will bear a deal of stretching, and adapt itself to a great variety of circumstances. Some people by prudent management, and leaving it off piece by piece, like a flannel waistcoat in warm weather, even contrive in time to dispense with it altogether; but there be others who can assume the garment and throw it off at pleasure; and this, being the greatest and most convenient improvement, is the one most in vogue. (Old Curiosity Shop.)


Verse 16

Titus 1:16

They profess that they know God

Conventional Christians

I.
Conventional Christians are professional atheists.

II. Conventional Christians are practical atheists.

1. They deny God’s authority in everyday life; ignore the claims He has upon their existence, powers, possessions.

2. They deny His teaching, He teaches that spiritual interests are supreme. They declare in their daily life that temporal interest are paramount. He teaches that no man should live to himself, but should be inspired by that benevolence that will promote the common weal. But they practically declare that self-interests are supreme, that every man should work for himself, regardless of the common good. He teaches to honour all men on account of what they are. They declare that those only are to be honoured who are endowed with wealth, and move in the pageantry of worldly pomp and power. (Homilist.)

The judgment of hypocrisy

I. Hypocrisy the occasion of atheism. False and inconsistent professors cause more scepticism than the active propagandism of infidels.

II. Hypocrisy is offensive even to the ungodly.

III. Hypocrisy is practical disobedience. The law is first for the spirit, then the letter: for the life through the heart.

IV. Hypocrisy universally condemned. Though in appearance full of “good works,” the hypocrite is condemned as destitute of any. (F. Wagstaff.)

Hypocrites in the Church

I. There will always be hypocrites in the church. Although the Lord could easily and at once purge His floor of them, yet in great wisdom He suffereth them.

1. In regard of His own glory, that His holiness might appear in the daily discovering of them and purging His Church; for he cannot abide that hypocrites should go in the tale and account of His children. But one time or other, one way or other, will be sanctified in all them that come near Him; at which time His glory also shineth out unto others in their just judgment.

2. In regard of the wicked, that they should the more stumble at the truth by reason of some hypocrites among professors.

3. In regard of the godly, that they should partly be exercised by this means, and partly driven to examine what truth is in them.

4. In respect of the truth itself, which getteth some testimony hence, as Christ on the cross by the very title of His enemies, affirming that He was the King of the Jews.

II. The character of the hypocrite.

1. The hypocrite is a great professor of religion, and hence cometh to be answerable to his name, in seeming to be, and sustaining the person that he is not. As a clown or knave on a stage playeth the part of a noble, or king, but is well known to be the next remove from a rogue, so these fellows whom the apostle noteth have often in their mouths the name of God and of Christ, the title of the Church, and pretend great knowledge of God and cunning in the Scriptures, and other ecclesiastical writings; yea further, make a great show of faith and pity, and if bare profession would lead to heaven, these could not be the least or last there. And to make this a little more plain, an hypocrite can carry himself so level and even in his course, as no man shall be able outwardly to accuse him, or impute anything unto him, no more than the disciples could accuse Judas, when every man said, “Master, is it I?” but none of them said, Master, is it Judas?

2. The second note is in these words, But indeed they deny him. That is, all the religion of an hypocrite is only in outward profession, separated from the inward sincerity of the heart. All that we have spoken of him is but a lifeless form of godliness, in which the power of it is denied (2 Timothy 3:5). Men may be said to deny a thing three ways.

1. With the tongue.

2. With the heart; thus the atheist denieth God (Psalms 24:1).

3. With the life or actions, which is here properly meant.

For ask the tongues and words of these men concerning their courses, all will appear to be fish whole, but ask their lives, and you shall hear their works (which are far more evident witnesses with or against a man, than his words) speak otherwise. Or, grant they do many glorious works to the eye, yet even herein after a sort God is denied, in that they are lame, and, indeed, carcases of good actions, without any soul to quicken them; all is external, and in such works they may be very busy, but spiritually they perform nothing.

3. The third note or character, is in a further degree of the sin, in that they are said, rebellious to God’s commandment, and disobedient to the doctrine of God. The Word giveth us to discover two vices in these titular Christians.

True it is they make a great show of faith, but the apostle distinguisheth of faith; one kind is feigned, another is unfeigned: the former may be joined with much knowledge, much talk of piety, but never with a pure heart and good conscience, as the latter. Now this unfeigned faith, being the mother and mistress of unfained obedience, and the only root whence this fruit can bud and blossom, whosoever are destitute of the former cannot but be barren of the latter. What are the fruits of unbelief, see Acts 17:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Hebrews 3:12.

4. The fourth note is yet in a further degree of the sin, and goeth near the detection of him; when after long custom in sin, and cracking his conscience checking him, he becomes as a crazy pitcher which is unfit to hold water; so is he reprobate to every good duty; now can he do nothing but rush into sin thick and threefold, and dowse himself over head and ears in impiety.

III. The miserable condition of the hypocrite. They are abominable to God, which appeareth both

1. In their persons.

2. Their actions.

3. Their punishment.

For their persons, they are but half Christians, neither hot nor cold, and therefore the Lord cannot digest them, compared to cakes but half baked (Hosea 7:10), and not turned on the other side. Seeing, therefore, they are such as withdraw their best part from God, the soul of God can take no pleasure in them. Their actions, although never so good in themselves, never so specious unto others, yet are abominable unto God. Yea, in their most devout services, they do nothing but (as Ephraim) compass the Lord with lies, and deceit (Hosea 11:12). Their punishment showeth them to be every way abhorred of God; for as men deal with things they hate, so the Lord

1. Casteth them out of His sight (Job 13:16). The hypocrite shall not come before Him, the workers of lies shall not enter within the walls of that holy city. Yea, sometimes they are cast out of His presence, as Cain was, even out of the visible Church, as they are ever out of the invisible, to show that they shall never be endured hereafter.

2. Destroyeth them; for their destruction from the Lord sleepeth not, but shall surprise them; perhaps while they are in the body, as Ananias and Sapphira, but certainly hereafter. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Professing God, but denying Him

Here learn

1. That hypocrites are generally great professors: they profess great knowledge of God, and great zeal for Him.

2. That to deny God is a very heinous sin, and an abominable wickedness: there is a twofold denial of God; first in words, expressly and openly; secondly, in practice, closely and consequentially; “They profess that they know God; but in words they deny Him.” There may be at once a professing of God, and a denial of Him; many a man’s practice speaks loud, that there is no God, when he makes a fair confession and profession of Him with his mouth and tongue.

3. That no sorts of persons are so odious to God, and abominable in His sight as those who make a profession of His holy name and truth, but walk contrary in their lives to that profession. (W. Burkitt, M. A.)

A tarnished Christian

“I laid aside a coin one day but did not remember just where I had put it, till one day I found it in a comer, encrusted with rust. At first, I thought it was copper, but careful examination proved it to be silver. It had lain there so long that it was tarnished and unrecognisable. Just as many Christians, alas I are so covered with the grime and filth of this world that it is no wonder that the unconverted and Christians look upon them as copper instead of being good silver.”

Inconsistencies of Christians

In true kindness of heart, sweetness of temper, open-handed generosity, the common charities of life, many mere men of the world lose nothing by comparison with such professors; and how are you to keep the world from saying, “Ah! your man of religion is no better than others; nay, he is sometimes worse!” With what frightful prominence does this stand out in the answer--never-to-be-forgotten answer--of an Indian chief to the missionary who urged him to become a Christian. The plumed and painted savage drew himself up in the consciousness of superior rectitude; and with indignation quivering on his lip and flashing in his eagle eye, he replied, “Christian lie! Christian cheat! Christian steal!--drink!--murder! Christian has robbed me of my lands, and slain my tribe!” adding, as he turned haughtily away, “The devil, Christian! I will be no Christian.” Many such reflections teach us to be careful how we make a religious profession! And having made the profession, cost what it may, by the grace of God let us live up to it; and act it out. It is better not to vow, than, having vowed, not to pay. (T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Religion not to be rejected because of hypocrites

Many people are offended with the profession of religion, because all are not religious who make a profession. A little consideration will correct this error. Does the sheep despise its fleece because the wolf has worn it? Who blames a crystal river because some melancholy men have drowned themselves in its streams? The best drugs have their adulterants. And will you refuse an opiate, because some have wantonly poisoned themselves with it? Though you have been cozened with false colours, yet you should not dis-esteem that which is dyed in grain. He is a bad economist who, having a spot in his garment, cuts off the cloth, instead of rubbing off the dirt. God rejects all religion but His own. (T. Seeker.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Titus 1:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/titus-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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