Titus 2As if our apostle had said, whatever the forementioned judaizing doctors preach, though they doat upon dreams, and feed their hearers with fables and fancies, to poison and corrupt their souls, and turn them from the truth; be sure that thou carriest thyself as becomes a sound preacher of the gospel, and speak only the things that become sound doctrine the body may as soon be nourished with carrion, as the soul with rotten and unsound doctrine. Christian doctrine is sound doctrine. And the ministers of Christ, who feed his people as may contribute greatly to their spiritual health and soundness. Speak thou the things that become sound doctrine.
By aged men, we may understand all ancient men in general, and church-officers in particular, in whom our apostle requires and calls for gravity and sobriety in behaviour, temperance in all things, that they be sound in faith, sincere in charity, and constant in patience.
Where note, That our apostle exempted none from the instructions, admonitions, and exhortations of the ministers of God. God's school is as well for the aged as the young, not only for initiating youth, but also for the edifying the aged, and building them up in their most holy faith: the aged have but a little time to be in the world, their nature declines, their days are almost ended, they must therefore labour to recompense a decay of nature with increase of grace, the weakness of body with the strength of faith: Let the aged men be sound in faith.
Note farther, that sobriety, gravity, temperance, soundness in the faith, eminent charity, and exemplary patience, are the great ornaments of persons in their old age.
Instructions are here given for the aged women, as before for the aged men, that is, for all in general: and such aged women in particular as were deaconnesses, or servants to the church, that they, being placed in the rank of church-officers, should act and walk as becometh holy persons, employed about holy things: particularly, that their deportment and behaviour be such, both in habit and gesture, as becometh holiness; that they be not false accusers; devils, the original signifies, because false-accusing is the devil's work: they that do his work shall bear his name.
Not given to much wine; excess in drinking is bad in men, worse in women, worst of all in old women, who ought to be patterns of piety and prudence, of sobriety and temperance, to the younger women; for St. Paul here directs them to teach the younger; that is, by their private admonitions and prudent examples instruct them to be wise and sober, not light and airy; and to love their husbands and children in a fit and becoming manner, and to show it in their behaviour; discreet and chaste in all their actions, keeping at home, and minding the affairs of the family; to be kind and obedient to their husbands, lest the miscarriages of young women should bring reproach upon religion, and the gospel be thought by the men of the world to infuse any thing into them contrary to moral virtue.
Learn hence, that the wholesome doctrine of the gospel must be preached and practically applied to women as well as to men, and they cannot, without the danger of damnation, despise or neglect the ministry of the word.
Note here, 1. That the ministers of God must apply themselves and their doctrine to the several sexes, ages, and conditions of their people; that every person, man and woman, young and old, superior and inferior, may know not only what is lawful, but what is expedient, most beseeming their quality, and best-becoming their age.
Here our apostle directs Titus to exhort first the aged men, next the aged women, now the younger men, that they be sober-minded, settled in the truth, guided by sound judgment, not governed by passion, not led by sense and appetite, not puffed up with proud conceit:
where it is observable, that St. Paul's warnings here given in this chapter to the aged men, the aged women, and the younger men, do intimate to us what vices they are that all sorts of persons are subject to, and most endangered by; and this is the wise improvement that all should make of it, to watch against the sins of their age and condition, their complexion and constitution, their calling and vocation, every sin that doth so easily beset them, and obstructs and hinders them in their Christian course.
St. Paul having directed Titus what doctrine to preach, comes now to instruct him what example to lead, in all things show thyself a pattern of good works; as if he had said, In all the good which thou exhortest thy hearers to, be an eminent pattern of it thyself; that they may see that visibly in thy life, which thou pressest upon them by thy preaching. By piety and good works second thy doctrine; there must be a sweet harmony between a minister's doctrine and his conversation; otherwise he pulls down faster than he builds up: an heterodox conversation will carry an orthodox preacher to hell.
He closes this admonition to Titus concerning preaching, with this solemn charge, namely, that his doctrine be sound and profitable, sincere without mixture, grave without levity, sound words that can never be confuted by gainsayers, which must be expected; but happy will you be if they can have nothing justly to charge your doctrine or conversation with.
Learn hence, that the ministers of God have ever had, and must always expect, some that will withstand, oppose, and gainsay them, as long as there is a devil in the world: and so long as the ministers of God endeavour to batter down the walls of his kingdom, he will raise up storms about their ears.
Learn, 2. That it is the duty, and must be the care and endeavour, of all the ministers of God, to oblige themselves to such an exemplary piety of conversation, as may stop the mouth of slander. That the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil to say against them.
Although Titus, according to some, was a bishop, yea, an archbishop, yet St. Paul exhorts him to look upon the instruction of servants as one part of his charge. Exhort servants; the souls of the poorest slaves and servants, for whom the Son of God died, must be of precious account with, and be particularly concerned for, by the highest ambassador of Christ; as all souls had an equal price, so must they have an equal care.
Observe, 1. The general duty which servants are exhorted to, and that is, obedience to their own masters, in all honest and lawful things, whether their masters were pagans or Christians: if pagans, not thinking that their Christianity freed them from their just commands; is Christian masters, not thinking that they had therefore a greater liberty to be saucy with them, or less obedient to them.
Observe, 2. The particular duties here pressed upon servants,
1. Not answering again, not crossing or contradicting what they are commanded, not saucily replying when they are reproved.
2. Not purloining, that is, not stealing the least thing, nor taking any thing that is their master's, which is not allowed by their consent, but showing all conscionable trustiness, and that great fidelity and honesty may be found with them.
Observe, 3. The argument or motive to stir up servants to this conscionable care, and conscientious discharge of their duty: that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; that is, that they may put honour upon Christ and his holy religion, by beautifying their Christian profession by a suitable and becoming conversation.
Learn hence, That it is in the power of the poorest and meanest servant to do much good or much hurt to the Christian religion; some might be ready to say, Alas! what good or hurt, what credit or discredit, can a poor servant do to religion? Much every way: He may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by his Christian behaviour as a servant; and the name of God and his doctrine may be blasphemed by him, if he be negligent in his duty.
None are so little and so inconsiderable, ends of religion, capable of serving the great ends of religion, capable of doing good service for God on earth, and of being eternally rewarded by God in heaven.
As if the apostle had said, Let all sorts of men, servants and masters, children and parents, old and young, discharge their duties faithfully to God and one another; for the grace of God, discovered in the gospel, has appeared to all men, teaching them to deny all doctrines and practices which are ungodly, and all wordly lusts of sensuality, and that we should live soberly, with respect to ourselves, righteously and charitably towards our neighbour, and holily towards God, in this present world.
Note here, 1. A choice and excellent description of the gospel; it is the grace of God, that is, the doctrine of God's free grace and gratuitous favour declared in Christ to poor sinners.
Note, 2. The joyful message which the gospel brings, and that is, salvation: the gospel makes a gracious tender of salvation, and that universally, to lost and undone sinners.
Note, 3. The clear light and evidence that it doth hold forth this message in and by; it has appeared or shined forth like the day-star, or the rising sun.
Note, 4. The extent of its glorious beams, how far they reach, to all indefinitely, The grace of God bringing salvation has appeared unto all men; that is, it is tendered to all without restriction or limitation.
1. As to nations, Jew or Gentile; 2. As to persons, rich or poor, bond or free; 3. Without restriction, as to the number and greatness of their sins; 4. Without restriction in reference to the degree of their graces.
Note, 5. The great lesson which the gospel teaches, negative and positive;
1. Negative, To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; where,
by ungodliness, understand all sins committed against the first table;
by worldly lusts, all sins committed against the second table; called worldly lusts, because the object of them is worldly things, and because they are the lusts of worldly men.
2. Positive, to live,
1. Soberly: he begins with our duty to ourselves, then to our neighbour, and last of all to God, and so proceeds from the easier to the harder duties: and observe the connection, soberly, and righteously, and godlily, not disjunctively; as if to live soberly, righteously, or in pretence godlily, were sufficient. A sobriety in speech, in behaviour, in apparel, in eating and drinking, in recreations, and in the enjoyment of lawful satisfactions.
2. Righteously, exercising justice and charity towards our neighbour: he that is uncharitable, is unjust and unrighteous, and the unrighteous shall no more enter into the kingdom of God, than the unholy: and all a person's pretences to godliness are but hypocrisy, without righteousness toward our neighbour.
3. Godlily; godliness as an internal and external part; the internal and inward part of godliness consists in a right knowledge of him, in a fervent love unto him, in an entire trust and confidence in him, in an holy fear to offend him, in subjecting our wills entirely to him, in holy longings for the fruition and enjoyment of him. The external and outward part of godliness consists in adoration and bodily worship; this is due to God from us; he was the Creator of the body as well as of the soul, the Redeemer of the body as well as of the soul, and will glorify the body as well as the soul; therefore we are to glorify God with our bodies, and with our spirits, which are the Lord's.
Note, 6. The time when, and the place where, this lesson is to be learnt, in this present world. Here is the place, and now is the time when this duty of living soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present world, is to be performed by us.
Learn, That a sober, righteous, and godly life, in this present world, is absolutely necessary in order to our obtaining the happiness and glory of the world to come.
Inference: if so, what a cheat doth that man put upon his soul, who trusts to a death-bed repentence? Be it never so sincere, how can it be said to be a living soberly, righteously, and godlily, in this world, when just stepping into eternity?
Observe here, 1. The character given of that reward which the gospel promises to them that live soberly, righteously, and godlily, in this present world; this is described,
1. By its futurity, it is hope, something expected, and to come; 2. By its transcendency, it is a blessed hope.
Learn, That the Christian's hope (for the good things hoped for) is laid up, not in this, but in the other world; because this world, and this present state, is not capable of that happiness which the Christian hopes for. It is too great, it is too good, for earth, it is laid up in heaven.
Observe, 2. The time and season when this glorious reward and blessed hope shall be dispensed reward and blessed hope shall be dispensed and given forth unto the godly, and that is, at the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Where note, A threefold description of Christ,
1. By the immensity of his deity, he is the great God. 2. By the graciousness of his office, our Saviour. 3. By the glory of his advent, or appearance, looking for the glorious appearance of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Observe, 3. The Christian's duty, with reference and relation to this reward, and to the appearance of Christ, when it shall be dispensed and given forth, namely, to look for that joyful hour.
Learn, That the great duty incumbent on all the people of God, is to be continually looking and longing for, hoping and expecting of, the coming and appearance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Looking for the blessed hope, &c.
Observe here, 1. The way and manner how Christ came to be our Saviour, he gave himself for us.
Note, 1. The giver, Christ, he gave. 2. The gift, himself. 3. The persons for whom he gave himself, for us.
Learn, 1. That all that Jesus Christ suffered he did sustain and undergo freely and voluntarily. 2. That that which Christ gave for our redemption was himself. 3. That it was especially for his church, that he gave himself, who gave himself for us.
Observe, 2. The great ends for which Christ gave himself for his church, and they are two: 1. To redeem them from all iniquity. 2. To purify them a peculiar people to himself.
1. To redeem them from iniquity: redemption supposes a thraldom and bondage; redemption from iniquity supposes a thraldom and bondage to sin and iniquity: our Redeemer therefore is Jesus Christ, and by dying for us, he did, and only could, redeem us. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.
2. Another end of Christ's redeeming us, is to purify us to himself a peculiar people;
Here note, That as redemption did presuppose a bondage, so purification supposes an uncleanness, that is, sin.
Note, 2. That Christ's redeemed people are a purified people, and a peculiar people, possessed by the Spirit of Christ with a zeal for good works.
Note, 3. That it was not only for us that Christ redeemed and purified us a peculiar people to himself, but ultimately for himself, and for his own and his Father's glory and complacency; that he might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
As if he had said, Let these necessary practical truths be the subject-matter of thy preaching, and according to the authority of thy office rebuke gainsayers, and let thy doctrine and behaviour in wisdom and gravity be such, as may keep and preserve thee from all contempt. The ministers of Christ are to take special care that they neither expose their persons nor their office, by any indecencies, to contempt: Let no man despise thee.
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