1 Timothy 6

CHAPTER VI.

Of the duty of servants, 1, 2.

Of false teachers, who suppose gain to be godliness, 3-5.

Of true godliness, and contentment, 6-8.

Of those, and their dangerous state, who determine to be rich;

and of the love of money, 9,10.

Timothy is exhorted to fight the good fight of faith, and to

keep the charge delivered to him, 11-14.

A sublime description of the majesty of God, 15, 16.

How the rich should behave themselves; and the use they should

make of their property, 17-19.

Timothy is once more exhorted to keep what was committed to his

trust; and to avoid profane babblings, through which some have

erred from the faith, 20, 21.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI.

Verse 1. Let as many servants as are under the yoke] The

word δουλοι here means slaves converted to the Christian faith;

and the ζυγον, or yoke, is the state of slavery; and by

δεσποται, masters, despots, we are to understand the heathen

masters of those Christianized slaves. Even these, in such

circumstances, and under such domination, are commanded to treat

their masters with all honour and respect, that the name of God,

by which they were called, and the doctrine of God, Christianity,

which they had professed, might not be blasphemed-might not be

evilly spoken of in consequence of their improper conduct. Civil

rights are never abolished by any communications from God's

Spirit. The civil state in which a man was before his conversion

is not altered by that conversion; nor does the grace of God

absolve him from any claims, which either the state or his

neighbour may have on him. All these outward things continue

unaltered. See Clarke on Eph 6:5, &c.; and "1Co 7:21",

&c., and especially the observations at the end of that chapter.

Verse 2. And they that have believing masters] Who have been

lately converted as well as themselves.

Let them not despise them] Supposing themselves to be their

equals, because they are their brethren in Christ; and grounding

their opinion on this, that in him there is neither male nor

female, bond nor free; for, although all are equal as to their

spiritual privileges and state, yet there still continues in the

order of God's providence a great disparity of their station: the

master must ever be in this sense superior to the servant.

But rather do them service] Obey them the more cheerfully,

because they are faithful and beloved; faithful to God's grace,

beloved by him and his true followers.

Partakers of the benefit.] τηςευεπγεσιαςαντιλαμβανομενοι.

Joint partakers of the benefit. This is generally understood as

referring to the master's participation in the services of his

slaves. Because those who are partakers of the benefit of your

services are faithful and beloved; or it may apply to the

servants who are partakers of many benefits from their Christian

masters. Others think that benefit here refers to the grace of

the Gospel, the common salvation of believing masters and slaves;

but Dr. Macknight well observes that ευεργεσια is nowhere used to

denote the Gospel. One of Uffenbach's MSS. has εργασιασ, of

the service; this reading is plainly a gloss; it is not

acknowledged by any other MS., nor by any version. FG, and the

Codex Augustanus 6, have ευσεβειας, of godliness; a term by

which the whole Gospel doctrine is expressed, 1Ti 4:7, 8, as

also in the 6th verse of this chapter. 1Ti 6:6

Verse 3. If any man teach otherwise] It appears that there

were teachers of a different kind in the Church, a sort of

religious levellers, who preached that the converted servant had

as much right to the master's service as the master had to his.

Teachers of this kind have been in vogue long since the days of

Paul and Timothy.

And consent not to wholesome words] υγιαινουσιλογοις Healing

doctrines-doctrines which give nourishment and health to the

soul, which is the true character of all the doctrines taught by

our Lord Jesus Christ; doctrines which are according to

godliness-securing as amply the honour and glory of God, as they

do the peace, happiness, and final salvation of man.

All this may refer to the general tenor of the Gospel; and not

to any thing said, or supposed to have been said, by our Lord,

relative to the condition of slaves. With political questions,

or questions relative to private rights, our Lord scarcely ever

meddled; he taught all men to love one another; to respect each

other's rights; to submit to each other; to show all fidelity; to

be obedient, humble, and meek; and to know that his kingdom was

not of this world.

Verse 4. He is proud] τετυφωται. He is blown up, or

inflated with a vain opinion of his own knowledge; whereas his

knowledge is foolishness, for he knows nothing.

Doting about questions] He is sick, distempered, about these

questions relative to the Mosaic law and the traditions of the

elders; for it is most evident that the apostle has the Judaizing

teachers in view, who were ever, in questions of theology,

straining out a gnat, and swallowing a camel.

Strifes of words] λογομαχιας. Logomachies; verbal

contentions; splitting hairs; producing Hillel against Shammai,

and Shammai against Hillel, relative to the particular mode in

which the punctilios of some rites should be performed. In this

sort of sublime nonsense the works of the Jewish rabbins abound.

Whereof cometh envy, strife, &c.] How little good have

religious disputes ever done to mankind, or to the cause of

truth! Most controversialists have succeeded in getting their

own tempers soured, and in irritating their opponents. Indeed,

truth seems rarely to be the object of their pursuit; they labour

to accredit their own party by abusing and defaming others; from

generals they often descend to particulars; and then personal

abuse is the order of the day. Is it not strange that Christians

either cannot or will not see this? Cannot any man support his

own opinions, and give his own views of the religion of Christ,

without abusing and calumniating his neighbour? I know not

whether such controversialists should not be deemed disturbers of

the public peace, and come under the notice of the civil

magistrate. Should not all Christians know that the wrath of man

worketh not the righteousness of the Lord?

Verse 5. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds]

Disputations that cannot be settled, because their partisans will

not listen to the truth; and they will not listen to the truth

because their minds are corrupt. Both under the law and under

the Gospel the true religion was: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God

with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy neighbour as

thyself. Where, therefore, the love of God and man does not

prevail, there there is no religion. Such corrupt disputers are

as destitute of the truth as they are of love to God and man.

Supposing that gain is godliness] Professing religion only for

the sake of secular profit; defending their own cause for the

emoluments it produced; and having no respect to another world.

From such withdraw thyself] Have no religions fellowship with

such people. But this clause is wanting in AD*FG, some others,

the Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic, Vulgate, and Itala, one copy

excepted. It is probably spurious.

Verse 6. But godliness with contentment is great gain.] The

word godliness, ευσεβεια, here, and in several other places of

this epistle, signifies the true religion, Christianity; and the

word contentment, αυταρκεια, signifies a competency, a

sufficiency; that measure or portion of secular things which is

necessary for the support of life, while the great work of

regeneration is carrying on in the soul. Not what this or the

other person may deem a competency, but what is necessary for the

mere purposes of life in reference to another world; food,

raiment, and lodging. See 1Ti 6:7. So, if a man have the life

of God in his soul, and just a sufficiency of food and raiment to

preserve and not burden life, he has what God calls great gain,

an abundant portion.

It requires but little of this world's goods to satisfy a man

who feels himself to be a citizen of another country, and knows

that this is not his rest.

Verse 7. We brought nothing into this world] There are some

sayings in Seneca which are almost verbatim with this of St.

Paul: Nemo nascitur dives; quisquis exit in lucem jussus est

lacte et panno esse contentus; Epist. xx, "No man is born rich;

every one that comes into the world is commanded to be content

with food and raiment." Excutit natura redeuntem, sicut

intrantem; non licet plus auferre, quam intuleris; Epist., cap.

ii. "Nature, in returning, shakes off all incumbrances as in

entering; thou canst not carry back more than thou broughtest

in." Seneca and St. Paul were contemporary; but all the Greek

and Latin poets, and especially the stoic philosophers, are full

of such sentiments. It is a self-evident truth; relative to it

there can be no controversy.

Verse 8. Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.]

αρκεσθησομεθα. Let us consider this a competency. And it is

evident that the apostle considers this a competency, and by these

words explains what he said 1Ti 6:6.

The word ακεπασματα, which we translate raiment, signifies

covering in general; and here means house or lodging, as well as

clothing.

Verse 9. But they that will be rich] οιδεβουλομενοι

πλουτειν. The words are emphatic, and refer to persons who are

determined to get riches; who make this their object and aim in

life; who live to get money; who get all they can, save all they

can, and keep all they get; and yet are apprehensive of no

danger, because they seek to be rich by honest means; for it is

likely that the apostle does not refer to those who wish to get

riches by robbery, plunder, extortion, &c.

By the term rich it is very likely that the apostle refers to

what he had said above: Having food and raiment, let us be

therewith content. He that has more than these is rich in the

sense in which the apostle uses the term.

Fall into temptation and a snare] τουδιαβολου, Of the devil,

is added by D*FG, Vulgate, Itala, and many of the fathers. It is

in consequence of the temptation of the devil that they have

determined to be rich; this temptation once received, others

quickly succeed: and when they have swallowed down the temptation

to the thing, then they drink in a thousand temptations to the

means; and all these lead them ειςπαγιδα, into an unforeseen and

concealed trap. παγις signifies a net, trap, gin, snare,

springe, or pit dug in the ground filled with sharp stakes, and

slightly covered over; so that when a man, or any animal, steps

upon it, he tumbles in, and is taken or destroyed. Such a snare

is that into which those who will be rich must necessarily fall.

But who will believe this? See Clarke on 1Ti 6:10.

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts] The whole conduct of

such a person is a tissue of folly; scraping, gathering, and

heaping up riches, and scarcely affording to take the necessaries

of life out of them for himself. These lusts or desires are not

only foolish, but they are hurtful; the mind is debased and

narrowed by them; benevolent and generous feelings become

extinct; charity perishes; and selfishness, the last and lowest

principle in mental degradation, absorbs the soul; for these

foolish and hurtful lusts drown men in destruction and

perdition-the soul is destroyed by them here, and brought through

them into a state of perdition hereafter. The apostle considers

these persons like mariners in a storm; by the concurrence of

winds, waves, and tide, they are violently driven among the

rocks, the vessel is dashed to pieces, and in a moment they are

all ingulfed in the great deep! Such is the lot and unavoidable

catastrophe of them that will be rich, even though they should

strive to accomplish their desires by means the most rigidly

honest.

In this place I beg leave to refer the reader to a sermon on

this text by the late Rev. JOHN WESLEY, in which the whole of

this subject is treated by the hand of a master; and, for

usefulness, the sermon is superior to every thing of the kind

ever published. It is entitled, The Danger of Riches; and is

found in his WORKS, Vol. 2, page 248, American edit.

Verse 10. The love of money is the root of all evil] Perhaps

it would be better to translate παντωντωνκακων, of all these

evils; i.e. the evils enumerated above; for it cannot be true

that the love of money is the root of all evil, it certainly was

not the root whence the transgression of Adam sprang, but it is

the root whence all the evils mentioned in the preceding verse

spring. This text has been often very incautiously quoted; for

how often do we hear," The Scripture says, Money is the root of

all evil!" No, the Scripture says no such thing. Money is the

root of no evil, nor is it an evil of any kind; but the love of

it is the root of all the evils mentioned here.

While some coveted after] ορεγομενοι. Insatiably desiring.

Have erred from the faith] απεπλανηθησαν. Have totally

erred-have made a most fatal and ruinous departure from the

religion of Christ.

And pierced themselves through with many sorrows.] The word

περιεπειραν signifies to be transfixed in every part; and is an

allusion to one of those snares, παγιδα, mentioned 1Ti 6:9,

where a hole is dug in the earth, and filled full of sharp stakes,

and, being slightly covered over with turf, is not perceived; and

whatever steps on it falls in, and is pierced through and through

with these sharp stakes, the οδυναιςπολλαις, the many

torments, mentioned by the apostle. See Clarke on 1Ti 6:9.

Verse 11. But thou, O man of God] Thou, who hast taken God

for thy portion, and art seeking a city that hath foundations,

whose builder is the living God, flee these things. Escape for

thy life. Even thou art not out of the reach of the love of

money. How many of the ministers of religion have been ruined by

this! And how much has religion itself suffered by their love of

money!

Follow after righteousness] Justice and uprightness in all thy

dealings with men. Godliness-a thorough conformity to the image

of God and mind of Christ. Faith in Jesus, and in all that he has

spoken; and fidelity to the talents thou hast received, and the

office with which thou art intrusted.

Love] To God and all mankind. Patience in all trials and

afflictions.

Meekness.] Bearing up with an even mind under all adversities

and contradictions.

Verse 12. Fight the good fight of faith] "Agonize the good

agony." Thou hast a contest to sustain in which thy honour, thy

life, thy soul, are at stake. Live the Gospel, and defend the

cause of God. Unmask hypocrites, expel the profligate, purge and

build up the Church, live in the spirit of thy religion, and give

thyself wholly to this work.

Lay hold on eternal life] All this is in allusion to the

exercises in the public Grecian games: Fight, conquer, and seize

upon the prize; carry off the crown of eternal life!

Whereunto thou art also called] The allusion to the public

games is still carried on: Thou hast been called into this

palaestra; thou hast been accepted as one proper to enter the

lists with any antagonists that may offer; in the presence of

many witnesses thou hast taken the necessary engagements upon

thee, and submitted to be governed by the laws of the stadium;

many eyes are upon thee, to see whether thou wilt fight manfully,

and be faithful. Timothy's faith was undoubtedly tried by severe

persecution. In Heb 13:23, it is said:

Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty. Hence it

appears that he was imprisoned for the testimony of Christ, and

perhaps it was then, more than at his ordination, that he made the

good confession here mentioned. He risked his life and conquered.

If not a martyr, he was a confessor.

Verse 13. I give thee charge] This is similar to that in

1Ti 5:21 of the preceding chapter, where see the note.

Who quickeneth all things] God, who is the fountain of life,

and who is the resurrection; and who will raise thee up at the

last day to a life of ineffable glory, if thou be faithful unto

death. And should thy life fall a sacrifice to the performance

of thy duty, all will be safe; for thy life is hid with Christ in

God, and when he who is thy life shall appear, then shalt thou

also appear with him in glory! Thy kingdom is not of this world;

remember that this good confession was made by thy Master before

Pilate. Keep disentangled from all earthly things, live to and

for God, and all will be well.

A good confession] The confession made by Christ before

Pontius Pilate is, that he was Messiah the King; but that his

kingdom was not of this world; and that hereafter he should be

seen coming in the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and dead.

See Joh 18:36, 37; and Mr 14:61, 62.

Verse 14. That thou keep this commandment without spot] Two

things are mentioned here: 1. That the commandment itself-the

whole doctrine of Christ, should be kept entire. 2. That his

life should be agreeable to that doctrine. Keep it without

spot-let there be no blot on the sacred book; add nothing to it;

take nothing from it; change nothing in it. Deliver down to thy

successors the truth as thou hast had it from God himself.

Unrebukable] Let there be nothing in thy conduct or spirit

contrary to this truth. Keep the truth, and the truth will keep

thee.

Until the appearing of our Lord] Hand it down pure, and let

thy conduct be a comment on it, that it may continue in the world

and in the Church till the coming of Christ.

Verse 15. Which in his times he shall show] Jesus will appear

in the most proper time; the time which the infinite God in his

wisdom has appointed for the second coming of his Son.

The blessed and only Potentate] δυναστης, Potentate, is

applied to secular governors; but none of these can be styled

ομακαριοςκαιμονος, the happy and only One; οβασιλευςτων

βασιλευοντων, the King of kings, or the King over all kings; and

κυριοςτωνκυριευοντων, the Lord over all lords or rulers.

These are titles which could not be given to any mortals. This is

made more specific by the verse following.

Ver. 15. ομακαριοςκαιμονοςδυναστηςοβασιλευςτων

βασιλευοντωνκαικυριοςτωνκυριευοντων.

The supreme Being is also styled the King of kings, and the

Blessed, by AESCHYLUS in his tragedy of the Supplicants:-

αναξανακτωνμακαρων

μακαρτατεκαιτελεων

τελειοτατονκρατος.

Ver 520. Ed. Porson.

"O King of kings! most Blessed of the blessed! most Perfect of

the perfect!"

Verse 16. Who only hath immortality] All beings that are not

eternal must be mutable; but there can be only one eternal Being,

that is God; and he only can have immortality.

Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto] All this

is said by the apostle in three words φωςοικωναπροσιτον,

inhabiting unapproachable light. Such is the excessive glory of

God, that neither angel nor man can approach it. It is indeed

equally unapproachable to all created beings.

Whom no man hath seen, nor can see] Moses himself could only

see the symbol of the Divine presence; but the face of God no man

could ever see. Because he is infinite and eternal, therefore he

is incomprehensible; and if incomprehensible to the mind,

consequently invisible to the eye.

To whom] As the author of being, and the dispenser of all

good, be ascribed honour and power-the sole authority of

all-pervading, all-superintending, all-preserving, and

everlasting might.

The words of St. Paul are inimitably sublime. It is a doubt

whether human language can be carried much higher, even under the

influence of inspiration, in a description of the supreme Being.

It is well known that St. Paul had read the Greek poets. He

quotes Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander; this is allowed on all

hands. But does he not quote, or refer to, AEschylus and

Sophocles too? Scarcely any person suspects this; and yet there

is such a complete similarity between the following quotations

from the above poets and the apostle's words, that we are almost

persuaded he had them in his eye. But if so, he extends the

thought infinitely higher, by language incomparably more exalted.

I shall introduce and compare with the text the passages I refer

to.

Ver. 16. ομονοςεχωναθανασιανφωςοικωναπροσιτον.

In the Antigone of SOPHOCLES there is a sublime address to

Jove, of which the following is an extract:

αγηρωςχρονωδυναστας,

κατεχειςολυμπου

μαρμαροεσσαναιγλαν.

Ver. 608. Edit. Brunk.

"But thou, an ever-during Potentate, dost inhabit the

refulgent splendour of Olympus!"

This passage is grand and noble; but how insignificant does it

appear when contrasted with the superior sublimity of the

inspired writer! The deity of Sophocles dwells in the dazzling

splendour of heaven; but the God of Paul inhabits light so

dazzling and so resplendent that it is perfectly unapproachable!

Synesius, in his third hymn, has a fine idea on the mode of

God's existence, which very probably he borrowed from St. Paul:-

κεκαλυμμενενου

ιδιαιςαυγαις.

"O intellectual Being! veiled in thine own effulgence!"

And a few lines after, he says,-

συτοκρυπτομενον

ιδιαιςαυγαις.

"Thou art He who art concealed by thy splendours."

All these are excellent, but they are stars of the twelfth

magnitude before the apostolic SUN.

See a quotation from Euripides, 2Ti 4:8.

Verse 17. Charge them that are rich] He had before, in

1Ti 6:9, 10, given them a very awful lesson concerning their

obtaining riches; and now he gives them one equally so concerning

their use of them.

That they be not high-minded] That they do not value

themselves on account of their wealth, for this adds nothing to

mind or moral worth.

Nor trust in uncertain riches] πλουτουαδηλοτητι. The

uncertainty of riches; things which are never at a stay, are ever

changing, and seldom continue long with one proprietor; therefore,

as well as on many other accounts, they are not to be trusted in:

they cannot give happiness, because they are not fixed and

permanent; neither can they meet the wishes of an immortal spirit;

but in the living God, who is the unchangeable fountain of

perfection.

Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy] Who not only has all

good, but dispenses it liberally for the supply of the wants of

all his creatures; and he does not give merely what is necessary,

but he gives what tends to render life comfortable. The comforts

of life come from God, as well as the necessaries. He not only

gives us a bare subsistence, but he gives us enjoyments. Were it

not for the oppression and rapine of wicked men, every situation

and state in life would be comparatively comfortable. God gives

liberally; man divides it badly.

Verse 18. That they do good] That they relieve the wants of

their fellow creatures, according to the abundance which God has

given them. The highest luxury a human being can enjoy on this

side of the grave.

Rich in good works] That their good works may be as abundant

as their riches.

Ready to distribute] ευμεταδοτουςειναι. That they give

nothing through partiality or favour, but be guided in their

distribution by the necessities of the objects presented to them;

and that they confine not their charity at home, but scatter it

abroad.

Willing to communicate] κοινωνικους. Bringing every poor

person into a state of fellowship with themselves.

Verse 19. Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation]

St. Paul seems to have borrowed this form of speech from Tobit.

See chap. iv. 8, 9: If thou hast abundance, give alms accordingly:

if thou hast but a little, be not afraid to give according to

that little: for thou treasurest up a good reward for thyself

against the day of necessity. θεμαραραγαθονθησαυριζειςσεαυτω

ειςημεραναναγκης. The apostle says: αποθησαυριζονταςεαυτοις

θεμελιονκαλονειςτομελλονιναεπιλαβωνταιτηςαιωνιουζωης

"Treasuring up a good foundation to them for the future, that

they may lay hold on eternal life." The sentiment is the same in

both writers; the words nearly so; and the meaning is simply

this, as it is judiciously paraphrased by Mr. J. Wesley in his

note on this passage: "Treasuring up for themselves a good

foundation, of an abundant reward by the free mercy of God, that

they may lay hold on eternal life. This cannot be done by

almsdeeds; yet, they come up for a memorial before God; Ac 10:4.

And the lack even of this may be the cause why God will withhold

grace and salvation from us." Christ has said: Blessed are the

merciful for they shall obtain mercy. They who have not been

merciful according to their power, shall not obtain mercy; they

that have, shall obtain mercy: and yet the eternal life which

they obtain they look for from the mercy of God through Jesus

Christ.

Verse 20. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy

trust] This is another repetition of the apostolic charge.

(See 1Ti 1:5, 18, 19; 4:6, 7, 14-16; 5:21; 6:13.)

Carefully preserve that doctrine which I have delivered to thee.

Nothing can be more solemn and affectionate than this charge.

Avoiding profane and vain babblings]

See Clarke on 1Ti 1:4, and "1Ti 4:7".

And oppositions of science falsely so called] καιαντιθεσεις

τηςψευδωνυμουγνωσεως. And oppositions of knowledge falsely so

named. Dr. Macknight's note here is worthy of much attention:

"In the enumeration of the different kinds of inspiration

bestowed on the first preachers of the Gospel, 1Co 12:8, we find

the word of knowledge mentioned; by which is meant that kind of

inspiration which gave to the apostles and superior Christian

prophets the knowledge of the true meaning of the Jewish

Scriptures. This inspiration the false teachers pretending to

possess, dignified their misinterpretations of the ancient

Scriptures with the name of knowledge, that is, inspired

knowledge; for so the word signifies, 1Co 14:6. And as by these

interpretations they endeavoured to establish the efficacy of the

Levitical atonements, the apostle very properly termed these

interpretations oppositions of knowledge, because they were

framed to establish doctrines opposite to, and subversive of, the

Gospel. To destroy the credit of these teachers, he affirmed

that the knowledge from which they proceeded was falsely called

inspired knowledge; for they were not inspired with the knowledge

of the meaning of the Scriptures, but only pretended to it."

Others think that the apostle has the Gnostics in view. But it is

not clear that these heretics, or whatever they were, had any

proper existence at this time. On the whole, Dr. Macknight's

interpretation seems to be the best.

Verse 21. Which some professing] Which inspired knowledge

some pretending to, have set up Levitical rites in opposition to

the great Christian sacrifice, and consequently have erred

concerning the faith-have completely mistaken the whole design of

the Gospel. See 1Ti 1:6,7.

Grace be with thee.] May the favour and influence of God be

with thee, and preserve thee from these and all other errors!

Amen.] This word, as in former cases, is wanting in the most

ancient MSS. In a majority of cases it appears to have been

added by different transcribers nearly in the same way in which

we add the word FINIS, simply to indicate the end of the work.

The subscriptions as usual are various. The following are the

most remarkable afforded by the MSS.:-

The first to Timothy is completed; the second to Timothy

begins.-DE. The First Epistle to Timothy is completed; the

second to him begins.-G. The first to Timothy, written from

Laodicea.-A. The first to Timothy, written from

Ladikia.-CLAROMONT. Written from Laodicea, which is the

metropolis of Phrygia.-The first to Timothy, written from

Laodicea, which is the metropolis of Phrygia of Pacatiana.-Common

GREEK TEXT, and several MSS. Instead of Pacatiana, some have

Pancatiana, Capatiana, and Paracatiana.

The VERSIONS are not less discordant:-

The First Epistle to Timothy, which, was written from

Laodicea.-SYR.

The VULGATE has no subscription.

The end of the epistle. It was written from Laodicea, which is

the metropolis of the cities of Phrygia.-ARAB.

To the man Timothy.-AETHIOPIC.

The First Epistle to Timothy, written from Athens.-ARABIC of

Erpenius.

Written from Athens, and sent by Titus, his disciple.-COPTIC.

Written from Macedonia.-AUCTOR SYNOPS.

The First Epistle to Timothy is ended. It was written from

Laodicea, the metropolis of Phrygia of Pacatiana.-PHILOXENIAN

SYRIAC.

There is one authority in Griesbach, Mt. c., for its being

written from NICOPOLIS. This is the opinion also of Dr. Macknight.

That the epistle was not written from Laodicea nor Athens, but

from Macedonia, has been rendered probable by the arguments

produced in the preface, to which the reader is referred for this

and the date of the epistle itself.

IN reviewing the whole of this epistle, I cannot help

considering it of the first consequence to the Church of God. In

it we see more clearly than elsewhere what the ministers of the

Gospel should be, and what is the character of the true Church.

Bishops, presbyters, and deacons are particularly described; and

their qualifications so circumstantially detailed, that it is

impossible to be ignorant on this head. What the Church should

be is also particularly stated; it is the house of the living

God; the place where he lives, works, and manifests himself. The

doctrines and discipline of the Church are not less specifically

noted. All these subjects are considered at large in the notes,

and here nothing need be added.

Should it be said, the apostle, in giving the qualifications of

a bishop, "nowhere insists on human learning," it may be answered

in general, that no ignorant person in those times could have

possibly got admittance into the Church as a teacher of

Christianity. Every person, acknowledged as a teacher, was

himself well taught in the word of God, and well taught by the

Spirit of God; and much teaching of the Divine Spirit was then

necessary, as the New Testament Scriptures were not then

completed; and, if we were to allow the earlier date of this

epistle, scarcely any part of the New Testament had then been

written. The gospels had not come as yet into general

circulation; and only a few of St. Paul's epistles, viz. those to

the Thessalonians, and that to the Galatians, and the first to the

Corinthians, had been written before the year 56. At such times

much must have been done by immediate revelations, and a frequent

communication of miraculous powers.

It is natural for men to run into extremes; and there is no

subject on which they have run into wider extremes than that of

the necessity of human learning; for in order to a proper

understanding of the sacred Scriptures, on one hand, all learning

has been cried down, and the necessity of the inspiration of the

Holy Spirit, as the sole interpreter, strongly and vehemently

argued. On the other, all inspiration has been set aside, the

possibility of it questioned, and all pretensions to it ridiculed

in a way savouring little of Christian charity or reverence for

God. That there is a middle way from which these extremes are

equally distant, every candid man who believes the Bible must

allow. That there is an inspiration of the Spirit which every

conscientious Christian may claim, and without which no man can

be a Christian, is sufficiently established by innumerable

scriptures, and by the uninterrupted and universal testimony of

the Church of God; this has been frequently proved in the

preceding notes. If any one, professing to be a preacher of the

Gospel of Jesus, denies, speaks, or writes against this, he only

gives awful proof to the Christian Church how utterly unqualified

he is for his sacred function. He is not sent by God, and

therefore he shall not profit the people at all. With such,

human learning is all in all; it is to be a substitute for the

unction of Christ, and the grace and influences of the Holy

Spirit.

But while we flee from such sentiments, as from the influence

of a pestilential vapour, shall we join with those who decry

learning and science, absolutely denying them to be of any

service in the work of the ministry, and often going so far as to

assert that they are dangerous and subversive of the truly

Christian temper and spirit, engendering little besides pride,

self-sufficiency, and intolerance?

That there have been pretenders to learning, proud and

intolerant, we have too many proofs of the fact to doubt it; and

that there have been pretenders to Divine inspiration, not less

so, we have also many facts to prove. But such are only

pretenders; for a truly learned man is ever humble and

complacent, and one who is under the influence of the Divine

Spirit is ever meek, gentle, and easy to be entreated. The proud

and the insolent are neither Christians nor scholars. Both

religion and learning disclaim them, as being a disgrace to both.

But what is that learning which may be a useful handmaid to

religion in the ministry of the Gospel? Perhaps we may find an

answer to this important question in one of the qualifications

which the apostle requires in a Christian minister, 1Ti 3:2: He

should be apt to teach-capable of teaching others. See the note.

Now, if he be capable of teaching others, he must be well

instructed himself; and in order to this he will need all the

learning that, in the course of the Divine providence, he is able

to acquire. But it is not the ability merely to interpret a few

Greek and Latin authors that can constitute a man a scholar, or

qualify him to teach the Gospel. Thousands have this knowledge

who are neither wise unto salvation themselves, nor capable of

leading those who are astray into the path of life. Learning is

a word of extensive import; it signifies knowledge and

experience; the knowledge of God and of nature in general, and of

man in particular; of man in all his relations and connections;

his history in all the periods of his being, and in all the

places of his existence; the means used by Divine providence for

his support; the manner in which he has been led to employ the

powers and faculties assigned to him by his Maker; and the

various dispensations of grace and mercy by which he has been

favoured. To acquire this knowledge, an acquaintance with some

languages, which have long ceased to be vernacular, is often not

only highly expedient, but in some cases indispensably necessary.

But how few of those who pretend most to learning, and who have

spent both much time and much money in seats of literature in

order to obtain it, have got this knowledge! All that many of

them have gained is merely the means of acquiring it; with this

they become satisfied, and most ignorantly call it learning.

These resemble persons who carry large unlighted tapers in their

hand, and boast how well qualified they are to give light to them

who sit in darkness, while they neither emit light nor heat, and

are incapable of kindling the taper they hold. Learning, in one

proper sense of the word, is the means of acquiring knowledge;

but multitudes who have the means seem utterly unacquainted with

their use, and live and die in a learned ignorance. Human

learning, properly applied and sanctified by the Divine Spirit,

is of inconceivable benefit to a Christian minister in teaching

and defending the truth of God. No man possessed more of it in

his day than St. Paul, and no man better knew its use. In this,

as well as in many other excellences, he is a most worthy pattern

to all the preachers of the Gospel. By learning a man may

acquire knowledge; by knowledge reduced to practice, experience;

and from knowledge and experience wisdom is derived. The

learning that is got from books or the study of languages is of

little use to any man, and is of no estimation, unless

practically applied to the purposes of life. He whose learning

and knowledge have enabled him to do good among men, and who

lives to promote the glory of God and the welfare of his fellow

creatures, can alone, of all the literati, expect to hear in the

great day: Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter thou into

the joy of thy Lord.

How necessary learning is at present to interpret the sacred

writings, any man may see who reads with attention; but none can

be so fully convinced of this as he who undertakes to write a

comment on the Bible. Those who despise helps of this kind are

to be pitied. Without them they may, it is true, understand

enough for the mere salvation of their souls; and yet even much

of this they owe, under God, to the teaching of experienced men.

After all, it is not a knowledge of Latin and Greek merely that

can enable any man to understand the Scriptures, or interpret

them to others; if the Spirit of God take not away the veil of

ignorance from the heart, and enlighten and quicken the soul with

his all-pervading energy, all the learning under heaven will not

make a man wise unto salvation.

Finished correcting for a new edition, Dec. 22d, 1831.-A.C.

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