1 Timothy 4

CHAPTER IV.

Apostasy from the true faith predicted, and in what that

apostasy should consist, 1-5.

Exhortations to Timothy to teach the truth, 6.

To avoid old wives' fables; to exercise himself to godliness,

7, 8.

To labour, command, and teach, 9, 10, 11.

To act so that none might despise his youth, 12.

To give attendance to reading and preaching, 13, 14.

To give up himself wholly to the Divine work, 15.

And so doing he should both save himself and them that heard

him, 16.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV.

Verse 1. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly] ρητως.

Manifestly, openly. It is very likely that the apostle refers

here to a prophecy then furnished by the Holy Ghost, and probably

immediately after he had written the words in the preceding

verses; and as this prophecy contains things nowhere else spoken

of in the sacred writings, and of the utmost moment to the

Christian Church, we cannot hear or read them with too much

reverence or respect.

In the latter times] This does not necessarily imply the last

ages of the world, but any times consequent to those in which the

Church then lived.

Depart from the faith] αποστησονταιτηςπιστεως. They will

apostatize from the faith, i.e. from Christianity; renouncing

the whole system in effect, by bringing in doctrines which render

its essential truths null and void, or denying and renouncing

such doctrines as are essential to Christianity as a system of

salvation. A man may hold all the truths of Christianity, and yet

render them of none effect by holding other doctrines which

counteract their influence; or he may apostatize by denying some

essential doctrine, though he bring in nothing heterodox.

Giving heed to seducing spirits] πνευμασιπλανις. Many MSS.

and the chief of the fathers have πνευμασιπλανης. spirits of

deceit; which is much more emphatic than the common reading.

Deception has her spirits, emissaries of every kind, which she

employs to darken the hearts and destroy the souls of men.

Pretenders to inspiration, and false teachers of every kind,

belong to this class.

And doctrines of devils] δαιμονιων. Demons; either meaning

fallen spirits, or dead men, spectres, &c., or doctrines inspired

by Satan relative to these, by which he secures his own interest,

and provides for his own worship.

Verse 2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy] Persons pretending, not

only to Divine inspiration, but also to extraordinary degrees of

holiness, self-denial, mortification, &c., in order to accredit

the lies and false doctrines which they taught. Multitudes of

lies were framed concerning miracles wrought by the relics of

departed saints, as they were termed. For, even in this country,

Thomas a Becket was, deemed a saint, his relics wrought numerous

miracles; and his tomb was frequented by multitudes of pilgrims!

However, as he works none now, we may rest assured that he never

did work any. In 1305, King Edward I. was prevailed on by his

clergy to write to Pope Clement V. to canonize Thomas de

Cantelupo, bishop of Hereford, because a multitude of miracles

had been wrought by his influence; In tantum, says the king, quod

ipsius meritis et intercessionibus gloriosis, lumen caecis,

surdis auditus, verbum mutis, et gressus claudis, et alia

pleraque beneficia ipsius patrocinium implorantibus, caelesti

dextra conferuntur. "Insomuch that, by his glorious merits and

intercessions, the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, the

dumb speak, and the lame walk; and many other benefits are

conferred by the right hand of the Divine Being on those who

implore his patronage." And therefore he prays that this dead

bishop may be added to the calendar, "that he and his kingdom may

enjoy his suffrages and merit his patronage in heaven, who had

the benefit of his conversation on earth." Nos attendentes, per

Dei gratiam, fideles in Christo, nosque praecipue, et populum

regni nostri, ejus posse suffragiis adjuvari, ut, quem familiarem

habuimus in terris, mereamur habere patronum in caelis. Foedera,

vol. i., p. 976. Edit. 1816.

Having their conscience seared with a hot iron] They bear the

marks of their hypocrisy as evidently and as indelibly in their

conscience in the sight of God, as those who have been cauterized

for their crimes do in their bodies in the sight of men. It was

customary in ancient times to mark those with a hot iron who had

been guilty of great crimes, such as sacrilege, &c. And the

heathens supposed that even in the other world they bear such

marks; and by these the infernal judges knew the quantum of their

vices, and appointed the degrees of their punishment. There is a

saying much like that of the apostle in the invective of Claudian

against Rufinus, whom he supposes to be thus addressed by

Rhadamanthus, one of the infernal judges:-

Quid demens manifesta negas? En pectus INUSTAE

Deformant MACULAE! vitiisque inolevit imago,

Nec sese commissa tegunt.

"Thou fool, why dost thou deny what is so manifest?

Behold the deep-burnt marks deform thy conscience;

the appearance of them has grown up with thy vices;

neither can the crimes which thou hast committed

hide themselves."

Verse 3. Forbidding to marry] These hypocritical priests

pretending that a single life was much more favourable to

devotion, and to the perfection of the Christian life. This

sentiment was held by the Essenes, a religious sect among the

Jews; and we know that it is a favourite opinion among the

Romanists, who oblige all their clergy to live a single life by a

vow of continency.

To abstain from meats] Both among the heathens, Jews, and

Romanists, certain meats were prohibited; Some always, others at

particular times. This the apostle informs us was directly

contrary to the original design of God; and says that those who

know the truth, know this.

Verse 4. For every creature of God is good] That is: Every

creature which God has made for man's nourishment is good for

that purpose, and to be thankfully received whenever necessary

for the support of human life; and nothing of that sort is at any

time to be refused, ουδεναποβλητον, rejected or despised. We

find a saying very similar to this in Lucian's Timon: ουτοι

αποβληταεισιδωραταπαραδιος. The gifts which are from Jove

ought not to be DESPISED. This appears to have been a proverbial

saying among the heathens.

Verse 5. For it is sanctified by the word of God] διαλογου

θεου. By the command of God; probably referring to Ge 1:29:

And God said, I have given you every herb-and every tree-to you it

shall be for meat; and Ge 9:3:

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the

green herb have I given you all things; i.e. I have given you

every animal that is proper for food, as I have given you every

herb and fruit proper for nourishment. Therefore, all this was

sanctified, set apart, and appropriated to this use by this

command. And when man is about to use it, he is to sanctify or

set it apart to that use by prayer to God, 1. That it may "answer

the end to us for which it was designed; 2. That we may use it

with gratitude and moderation; 3. That all the strength derived

from it may be devoted to God, in filling up the duties of those

situations in which his providence has placed us. Those who thank

not God for their food, and pray not for his blessing in the use

of it, are unworthy even of a morsel of bread, and of the breath

they breathe. Bishop Newton's opinion of this prophecy I have

reserved to the end of this chapter.

Verse 6. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these

things] Show the Church that, even now, there is danger of this

apostasy; put them on their guard against it; for the forewarned

are half armed. Schoettgen supposes from this verse that what is

spoken above refers to the Jews alone; and that there is no

reference here to a Church which in after ages might apostatize

from, or corrupt, the true doctrine of our Lord and Saviour.

Bishop Newton and others are of a different opinion. See at the

end of this chapter.

Nourished up in the words of faith] By acting as I command

thee, thou wilt show that thou art a good minister of Jesus

Christ, and that thou hast been nourished from thy youth upon the

doctrines of faith. The apostle seems to allude here to

Timothy's Christian education. See the preface to this epistle.

Whereunto thou hast attained.] ηπαρηκολουθηκας Which thou

hast thoroughly understood. For the meaning of this word,

See Clarke on Lu 1:3.

Verse 7. But refuse profane and old wives' fables] This seems

to refer particularly to the Jews, whose Talmudical writings are

stuffed with the most ridiculous and profane fables that ever

disgraced the human intellect. It may with equal propriety be

applied to the legends of the Romish Church. Let any man read

the Aurea Legenda, and he will find of profane and old wives'

fables what may stand, with considerable propriety, column for

column with the Talmud. See Joseline's Life of St. Patrick for

miracles, without rhyme or reason, abundantly more numerous and

more stupendous than all the necessary ones wrought by Jesus

Christ and his apostles. This is enough to persuade a man that

the Spirit of God had these very corruptions and this corrupt

Church particularly in view.

Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.] To understand this

expression it is necessary to know that the apostle alludes here

to the gymnastic exercises among the Greeks, which were intended

as a preparation for, their contests at the public games. They

did this in order to obtain a corruptible or fading crown, i. e,

a chaplet of leaves, which was the reward of those who conquered

in those games; Timothy was to exercise himself unto godliness,

that he might be prepared for the kingdom of heaven, and there

receive a crown that fadeth not away.

See Clarke on 1Co 9:24, &c.

Verse 8. For bodily exercise profiteth little] προςολιγον

εστινωφελιμος. Those gymnastic exercises, so highly esteemed

among the Greeks, are but little worth; they are but of short

duration; they refer only to this life, and to the applause of

men: but godliness has the promise of this life, and the life to

come; it is profitable for all things; and for both time and

eternity.

But godliness is profitable unto all things] By godliness we

are to understand every thing that the Christian religion either

promises or prescribes: the life of God in the soul of man; and

the glory of God as the object and end of that life. To

receive the first, a man must renounce his sins, deny himself,

take up his cross, and follow his Lord through evil and through

good report. To obtain the latter, a man must labour to enter

into that rest which remains for the people of God.

Having promise, of the life that now is] The man that fears,

loves, and serves God, has God's blessing all through life. His

religion saves him from all those excesses, both in action and

passion, which sap the foundations of life, and render existence

itself often a burden. The peace and love of God in the heart

produces a serenity and calm which cause the lamp of life to burn

clear, strong, and permanent. Evil and disorderly passions

obscure and stifle the vital spark. Every truly religious man

extracts the uttermost good out of life itself, and through the

Divine blessing gets the uttermost good that is in life; and,

what is better than all, acquires a full preparation here below

for an eternal life of glory above. Thus godliness has the

promise of, and secures the blessings of, both worlds.

Verse 9. This is a faithful saying] The truth of this

doctrine none need doubt; and every man has it in his power to

put this to the proof. See Clarke on 1Ti 1:15.

Verse 10. For therefore we both labour] This verse was

necessary to explain what he had before said; and here he shows

that his meaning was not that the followers of God should enjoy

worldly prosperity and exemption from natural evils; for, said

he, it is because we exercise ourselves to godliness that we have

both labour and reproach, and we have these because we trust In

the living God: but still we have mental happiness, and all that

is necessary for our passage through life; for in the midst of

persecutions and afflictions we have the peace of God that

passeth knowledge, and have all our crosses and sufferings so

sanctified to us that we consider them in the number of our

blessings.

Who is the Saviour of all men] Who has provided salvation for

the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in his

word and by his Spirit.

Specially of those that believe.] What God intends for ALL, he

actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the

sins of the world, and tasted death for every man. As all have

been purchased by his blood so all may believe; and consequently

all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own

fault.

Verse 11. These things command and teach.] Let it be the sum

and substance of thy preaching, that true religion is profitable

for both worlds; that vice destroys both body and soul; that

Christ tasted death for every man; and that he saves to the

uttermost all them that believe in his name.

Verse 12. Let no man despise thy youth] Act with all the

gravity and decorum which become thy situation in the Church. As

thou art in the place of an elder, act as an elder. Boyish

playfulness ill becomes a minister of the Gospel, whatever his

age may be. Concerning Timothy's age see the conclusion of the

preface to this epistle.

Be thou an example of the believers] It is natural for the

flock to follow the shepherd; if he go wrong, they will go wrong

also.

"Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,

His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray."

Though, according to the just judgement of God, they who die in

their sins have their blood on their own head; yet, if they have

either gone into sin or continued in it through the watchman's

fault, their blood will God require at his hand. How many have

endeavoured to excuse their transgressions by alleging, in

vindication of their conduct, "Our minister does so, and he is

more wise and learned than we." What an awful account must such

have to give to the Head of the Church when he appears!

In word] ενλογω. In doctrine; teach nothing but the truth

of God, because nothing but that will save souls.

In conversation] εναναστροφη. In the whole of thy conduct

in every department which thou fillest in all thy domestic as well

as public relations, behave thyself well.

In charity] εναγαπη. In love to God and man; show that this

is the principle and motive of all thy conduct.

In spirit] ενπνευματι. In the manner and disposition in

which thou dost all things. How often is a holy or charitable

work done in an unholy, uncharitable, and peevish spirit! To the

doer, such work is unfruitful.

These words are wanting in ACDFG, and several others; both the

Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala,

and many of the fathers. Griesbach leaves them out of the text.

They have in all probability been added by a later hand.

In faith] ενπιστει. This word πιστις is probably taken here

for fidelity, a sense which it often bears in the New Testament.

It cannot mean doctrine, for that has been referred to before.

Be faithful to thy trust, to thy flock, to thy domestics, to

the public, to thy GOD. Fidelity consists in honestly keeping,

preserving, and delivering up when required, whatever is

intrusted to our care; as also in improving whatever is delivered

in trust for that purpose. Lose nothing that God gives, and

improve every gift that he bestows.

In purity.] εναγνεια. Chastity of body and mind; a

direction peculiarly necessary for a young minister, who has more

temptations to break its rules than perhaps any other person.

"Converse sparingly with women, and especially with young women,"

was the advice of a very holy and experienced minister of Christ.

Verse 13. Give attendance to reading] Timothy could easily

comprehend the apostle's meaning; but at present this is not so

easy. What books does the apostle mean? The books of the Old

Testament were probably what he intended; these testified of

Jesus, and by these he could either convince or confound the

Jews. But, whether was the reading of these to be public or

private? Probably both. It was customary to read the law and

the prophets in the synagogue, and doubtless in the assemblies of

the Christians; after which there was generally an exhortation

founded upon the subject of the prophecy. Hence the apostle

says: Give attendance to reading, to EXHORTATION, to DOCTRINE.

Timothy was therefore to be diligent in reading the sacred

writings at home, that he might be the better qualified to read

and expound them in the public assemblies to the Christians, and

to others who came to these public meetings.

As to other books, there were not many at that time that could

be of much use to a Christian minister. In those days the great

business of the preacher was to bring forward the grand facts of

Christianity, to prove these, and to show that all had happened

according to the prediction of the prophets; and from these to

show the work of God in the heart, and the evidence of that work

in a holy life.

At present the truth of God is not only to be proclaimed, but

defended; and many customs or manners, and forms of speech,

which are to us obsolete, must be explained from the writings of

the ancients, and particularly from the works of those who lived

about the same times, or nearest to them, and in the same or

contiguous countries. This will require the knowledge of those

languages in which those works have been composed, the chief of

which are Hebrew and Greek, the languages in which the Holy

Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments have been originally

written.

Latin is certainly of the next consequence; a language in which

some of the most early comments have been written; and it is

worth the trouble of being learned, were it only for the sake of

the works of St. Jerome, who translated and wrote a commentary on

the whole of the Scriptures; though in many respects it is both

erroneous and superficial.

Arabic and Syriac may be added with great advantage: the latter

being in effect the language in which Christ and his apostles

spoke and preached in Judea; and the former being radically the

same with the Hebrew, and preserving many of the roots of that

language, the derivatives of which often occur in the Hebrew

Bible, but the roots never.

The works of various scholars prove of how much consequence

even the writings of heathen authors, chiefly those of Greece and

Italy, are to the illustration of the sacred writings. And he

who is best acquainted with the sacred records will avail himself

of such helps, with gratitude both to God and man. Though so many

languages and so much reading are not absolutely necessary to

form a minister of the Gospel, (for there are many eminent

ministers who have not such advantages,) yet they are helps of

the first magnitude to those who have them and know how to use

them.

Verse 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee] The word

χαρισμα here must refer to the gifts and graces of the Divine

Spirit, which Timothy received when set apart to the work of an

evangelist by the imposition of St. Paul's hands, 2Ti 1:6, and

by that of the presbytery or eldership; for it most evidently

appears, from this verse and that above quoted, that he received

this double imposition, not probably at different times, but on

one and the same occasion. These very gifts and graces might be

improved; and we have reason to believe, if not improved, would

be withdrawn by the great Head of the Church.

Given thee by prophecy] It has already been conjectured (see

the preface, and see the note on Clarke "1Ti 1:18") that there

had been some remarkable prediction relative to the future destiny

and usefulness of Timothy. And probably it was in consequence of

this that he was set apart to the office of evangelist and bishop

in the Church at Ephesus. When apostles laid their hands on men,

they ordinarily received the Holy Spirit with this imposition.

This may be what the apostle calls to the remembrance of

Timothy, and tells him not to neglect what he had received, nor

the purpose for which he had received it.

Verse 15. Meditate upon these things] ταυταμελετα. Revolve

them frequently in thy mind; consider deeply their nature and

importance; get them deeply fastened in thy heart, and let all

thy conduct flow from this inward feeling and conviction. Let

the nature, reasons, and motives of thy ministry, be ever in the

view of thy heart and conscience.

Give thyself wholly to them] εντουτοιςισθι. Be thou in

these things. Horace has a similar expression: Omnis in hoc sum.

"I am absorbed in this." Occupy thyself wholly with them; make

them not only thy chief but thy sole concern. Thou art called to

save thy own soul, and the souls of them that hear thee; and God

has given thee the Divine gifts for this and no other purpose.

To this let all thy reading and study be directed; this is thy

great business, and thou must perform it as the servant and

steward of the Lord. Bengel has a good saying on this verse,

which I will quote: In his qui est, minus erit in sodalitatibus

mundanis, in studiis alienis, in colligendis libris, conchis,

nummis, quibus multi pastores notabilem aetatis partem

insistentes conterunt; "He who is wholly in these things will be

little in worldly company, in foreign studies, in collecting

books, shells, and coins, in which many ministers consume a

principal part of their life." Such persons are worthy of the

deepest reprehension, unless all these studies, collections, &c.,

be formed with the express view, of illustrating the sacred

records; and to such awful drudgery few Christian ministers are

called. Many, when they have made such collections, seem to know

nothing of their use; they only see them and show them, but can

never bring them to their assistance in the work of the ministry.

These should be prayed for and pitied.

That thy profiting may appear to all.] By being made a

universal blessing; convincing and converting sinners; and

building up the Church of God on its most holy faith.

Verse 16. Take heed unto thyself] See that the life of God

remains and the work of God prospers in thine own soul. Take

heed to thy doctrine, that the matter be pure and orthodox; that

thou teach nothing for truth but what God has revealed.

Continue in them] i.e., In taking heed to thyself and to thy

doctrine; for this must be thy continual study. Without this,

the Divine influence shall recede from thy heart, and the Divine

gift from thy intellect; and, like Samson shorn of his strength,

thou wilt soon become as another man, as any common man; thy

power will depart from thee, and thou shalt be no longer able to

persuade; the UNCTION shall depart from thee, and, destitute of

spiritual feeling thyself, thou shalt not be able to cause others

to feel. Take the apostle's advice, and thou shalt save thy own

soul, and the souls of them that hear thee.

In the course of the preceding notes I have referred to Bishop

Newton's opinion and application of the prophecy contained in the

first five verses. Not being fully persuaded in my own, mind to

what Church this, and the prophecy in the Epistle to the

Thessalonians, should be applied, I produce an accredited author,

who, for his Dissertations on the Prophecies, has a high and,

honoured name in the Church.

"I. The first thing to be considered is, the apostasy here

predicted. 'Some shall depart, or rather apostatize, from the

faith.' An apostasy from the faith may be either total or

partial; either when we renounce the whole, or when we deny some

principal and essential article of it. It is not every error, or

every heresy, that is apostasy from the faith. It is a revolt in

a principal and essential article, when we worship God by any

image or representation, or when we worship other beings besides

God, and pray unto other mediators besides the one Mediator

between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. This is the very

essence of Christian worship, to worship the one true God,

through the one true Christ; and to worship any other god, or any

other mediator, is apostasy and rebellion against God and against

Christ. Such is the nature of apostasy from the faith; and it is

implied that this apostasy shall be general, and affect great

numbers. For, though it be said only some shall apostatize, yet

by some, here, many are understood. The original word frequently

signifies a multitude and there are abundant instances in

Scripture where it is used in that sense, as the reader may

perceive from Joh 6:64-66; Ro 11:17; 1Co 10:5,6. This apostasy

may be general and extensive, and include many but not all.

"II. It is more particularly shown wherein the apostasy should

consist, in the following words: Giving heed to seducing spirits

and doctrines of devils; or rather: `Giving heed to erroneous

spirits and doctrines concerning demons.' Spirits seem to be

much the same in sense as doctrines, the latter word may be

considered as explanatory of the former; and error sometimes

signifying idolatry, erroneous doctrines may comprehend

idolatrous as well as false doctrines. But it is still farther

added, for explanation, that these doctrines should be doctrines

of devils or of demons, where the genitive case is not to be

taken actively, as if demons were the authors of these doctrines,

but passively, as if demons were the subject of these doctrines.

In Jer 10:8; Ac 13:12; Heb 6:2, the genitive case is used in

this manner; and, by the same construction, doctrines of demons

are doctrines about or concerning demons. This is, therefore, a

prophecy that the idolatrous theology of demons, professed by the

Gentiles ,should be revived among Christians. Demons, according

to the theology of the Gentiles, were middle powers between the

gods and mortal men; and were regarded as mediators and agents

between the gods and men. Of these demons there were accounted

two kinds: one kind were the souls of men deified or canonized

after death; the other kind were such as had never been the souls

of men, nor ever dwelt in mortal bodies. These latter demons may

be paralleled with angels, as the former may with canonized

saints; and as we Christians believe there are good and evil

angels, so did the Gentiles that there were good and evil demons.

It appears then as if the doctrine of demons, which prevailed so

long in the heathen world, was to be revived and established in

the Christian Church. And is not the worship of saints and

angels now, in all respects, the same that the worship of demons

was in former times? The name only is different, the thing is

essentially the same. The heathens looked upon their demons as

mediators and intercessors between God and men; and are not the

saints and angels regarded in the same light by many professed

Christians? The promoters of this worship were sensible that it

was the same, and that the one succeeded the other; and as the

worship is the same, so likewise it is performed with the same

ceremonies. Nay, the very same temples, the very same images,

the very same altars, which once were consecrated to Jupiter and

the other demons, are now reconsecrated to the Virgin Mary and

other saints. The very same titles and inscriptions are ascribed

to both; the very same prodigies and miracles are related of

these as of those. In short, the whole almost of paganism is

converted and applied to popery, the one is manifestly formed

upon the same plan and principles as the other.

"III. Such an apostasy as this-of reviving the doctrines of

demons, and worshipping the dead-was not likely to take place

immediately, it should prevail and prosper in the latter days.

The phrase of the latter times or days, or the last times or

days, signifies any time yet to come; but denotes more

particularly the times of Christianity. The times of

Christianity may properly be called the latter times or days, or

the last times or days, because it is the last of all God's

revelations to mankind. Heb 1:1,2; 1Pe 1:20.

"IV. Another remarkable peculiarity of this prophecy is, the

solemn and emphatic manner in which it is delivered: The Spirit

speaketh expressly. By the Spirit is meant the Holy Spirit of

God, which inspired the prophets and apostles. The Spirit

speaking expressly, may signify his speaking precisely and

certainly, not obscurely and involvedly, as he is wont to speak

in the prophets; or it may be said, The Spirit speaketh

expressly, when he speaks in express words in some place or other

of Divine writ; and the Spirit hath spoken the same thing in

express words before in the prophecy of Daniel. Daniel has

foretold, in express words, the worship of new demons or

demi-gods; Da 11:38.

The mauzzim of Daniel are the same as the demons of St. Paul; gods

protectors, or saints protectors, defenders and guardians of

mankind. This, therefore, is a prophecy, not merely dictated by

private suggestion and inspiration, but taken out of the written

word. It is a prophecy not only of St. Paul's, but of Daniel's

too; or rather of Daniel, confirmed and approved by St. Paul.

"V. The apostle proceeds, 1Ti 4:2, to describe by what means

and by what persons this apostasy should be propagated and

established in the world. Speaking lies in hypocrisy, &c.; or

rather, through the hypocricy of liars, having their conscience,

&c.; for the preposition rendered in, frequently signifies

through or by. Liars too, or speaking lies, cannot,

possibly be joined with the original word rendered some, and that

rendered giving heed, because they are in the nominative case, and

this is in the genitive. Neither can it well be joined in the

construction with the word rendered devils, or demons; for how

can demons, or devils, be said to speak lies in hypocrisy, and

to have their conscience seared, &c.? It is plain, then, that the

great apostasy of the latter times was to prevail, through the

hypocrisy of liars, &c. And has not the great idolatry of

Christians, and the worship of the dead particularly, been

diffused and advanced in the world by such instruments and

agents? by fabulous books, forged under the names of the apostles

and saints; by fabulous legends of their lives; by fabulous

miracles, ascribed to their relics; by fabulous dreams and

revelations; and even by fabulous saints, who never existed but

in imagination.

"VI. Verse 3. Forbidding to marry, &c.] This is a farther

character of the promoters of this apostasy. The same

hypocritical liars who should promote the worship of demons

should also prohibit lawful marriage. The monks were the first

who brought a single life into repute; they were the first also

who revived and promoted the worship of demons. One of the

primary and most essential laws and constitutions of all monks

was the profession of a single life, and it is equally clear that

the monks had the principal share in promoting the worship of the

dead. The monks then were the principal promoters of the worship

of the dead in former times. And who are the great patrons and

advocates of the same worship now? Are not their legitimate

successors and descendants, the monks and priests and bishops of

the Church of Rome? And do not they also profess and recommend a

single life, as well as the worship of saints and angels? Thus

have the worship of demons, and the prohibition of marriage,

constantly gone hand in hand together; and as they who maintain

one maintain the other, so it is no less remarkable that they who

disclaim the one, disclaim the other.

"VII. The last mark and character of these men is: Commanding

to abstain from meats, &c. The same lying hypocrites who should

promote the worship of demons, should not only prohibit lawful

marriage, but likewise impose unnecessary abstinence from meats;

and these too, as indeed it is fit they should, usually go

together as constituent parts of the same hypocrisy. It is as

much the law of monks to abstain from meats, as from marriage.

Some never eat any flesh; others only certain kinds, on certain

days. Frequent fasts are the rule and boast of their orders. So

lived the monks of the ancient Church; so live, with less

strictness perhaps, but with greater ostentation, the monks and

friars of the Church of Rome; and these have been the principal

propagators and defenders of the worship of the dead, both in

former and in latter times. The worship of the dead is indeed so

monstrously absurd as well as impious, that there was hardly any

probability of its ever prevailing in the world but by hypocrisy

and lies. But that these particular sorts of hypocrisy-celibacy,

under pretence of chastity; and abstinence, under pretence of

devotion-should be employed for this purpose, the Spirit of God

alone could foresee and foretell. There is no necessary

connection between the worship of the dead, and forbidding to

marry, and commanding to abstain from meats; and yet it is

certain that the great advocates for this worship have, by their

pretended purity and mortification, procured the greater reverence

to their persons, and the readier reception to their doctrines.

But this idle, popish, monkish abstinence is as unworthy of a

Christian as it is unnatural to a man; it is preventing the

purpose of nature, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God

hath created to be received with thanksgiving by believers, and

them who know the truth." See Bishop Newton's Dissertations on

the Prophecies; and Dr. Dodd's notes.

Which mode of interpretation is best, I shall not attempt to

say: to determine the meaning of prophecies is a difficult task;

and, in a case of this kind, I rather choose to trust to the

judgment of others than to my own. It is to be deplored that all

the preceding particulars apply but too well to the corruptions

in the Romish Church, therefore to it they appear peculiarly

applicable. But whether God had this Church alone in view, I

dare not affirm.

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