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Sound in Patience
The Apostle Paul has himself been described by a great Biblical student as 'Paul the undiscourageable'. And, indeed, he is worthy of the name, and there is no better way of studying the significance of his teaching than by watching his own life. He is his own best commentary on his own counsels. His purposes were frequently broken by tumultuous shocks. His plans were destroyed by hatred and violence. His course was twisted here, diverted there, and wrenched a hundred times from its appointed goings by the mischievous plots of wicked men. The little Churches he had founded were in chronic disturbance and unrest. They were often infested with puerilities, and sometimes they were honeycombed by heresies which consumed their very life. And yet how sound and noble his patience! With what fruitful tenderness he waits for his lagging pupils! His very reproofs are given, not with the blind, clumsy blows of a street mob, but with the quiet, discriminating hand of a surgeon. This man, more than most men, had proved the hygienic value of endurance, and he, more than most men, was competent to counsel his fellow-believers to discipline themselves to the 'soundness of patience'.
I. Let us, therefore, look a little more closely at the virtue. This virtue of patience is to be exercised in seasons of waiting. This is certainly the hardest and most exacting exercise. I suppose that the rarest form of courage is displayed when we are compelled to sit still, and things are happening in which we can take no part. Action would reduce the tension and bring relief, but action is impossible. The acutest strain is not in the fighting, but in perilous waiting when fighting is impossible. It is in seasons like these that the finest courage and the ripest patience display their superlative glory. 'Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.' This is surely a supreme instance of the virtue of being 'sound in patience'.
II. But the virtue of patience is also to be exercised in seasons of activity. The army needs patience in waiting; it also needs patience in fighting. Impatience can spoil the waiting, and impatience can spoil the fighting. Impatient action defeats its own ends. An impatient shot registers a very erratic mark. An impatient batsman throws away the game. Yes, we require patience in the field as well as in the pavilion. And so it is a general principle in life; patience is not something to be called up merely in hours of enforced indolence; it is not a stand-by in emergencies; it is the virtue which endows every moment with promise, and which makes the most commonplace action healthily effective.
Now let me mention two or three conditions in life in which this 'sound patience' would operate with splendid effectiveness.
1. First of all, then, we need a 'sound patience' when we are in the presence of oppressive mysteries.
2. We need a 'sound patience' in the presence of burdensome disappointment.
3. We need a 'sound patience' in the presence of a loitering progress.
J. H. Jowett, The Transfigured Church, p. 149.
In my very young years I had a gravity and stayed-ness of mind and spirit, not usual in children; insomuch that when I saw old men behave lightly and wantonly towards each other, I had a dislike thereof raised in my heart.'
George Fox's Journal.
A School for Womanhood
The suggestion of my text is 'that they may teach'. That is characteristic of the Bible. It is eminently a teaching book. The word rendered 'teach' is rendered in the Revised Version 'train'. But perhaps its most literal translation would be 'school' 'that they may school '. This sacred book would put us all to school, and it would keep us there Are young women the only ones who need instruction? The first verse bids Titus, the Bishop of Crete, 'speak the things which become sound doctrine,' or 'healthful teaching,' and instead of this being required only for young women it is imparted also to old men, aged women, young men and servants. But, in the instance before us, we are interested to know who are to be the instructors, 'That they may teach the young women'. Who are the 'they'? The reply is found in the previous verse. It is 'the aged women'. Women are best taught by women. Nor must we fail to notice the method of this teaching. It is to be the teaching of example, which is so proverbially better than precept. There must, however, be verbal instruction, and God's Apostles today must not forget in teaching all to 'teach the young women'.
I. Has not the Church too often forgotten to teach such? And yet the influence of women is incalculable. In view of the multiplied and multiplying influence of their sex, it is indeed right that the Christian pulpit should 'teach the young women'.
II. Let me remind you also that woman owes her influence to Christ That woman's nature was equally honourable with man's nobody believed in the pagan world; but as Augustine well said: 'The Saviour gave abundant proof of this in being born of a woman'. He, and He alone, has placed woman on the crowning slope of honour.
III. Consider the elements of character which give to young women their highest influence. (1) To brighten home with love this is what the Apostle would first teach the young women. (2) Another lesson Paul would have young women taught is 'to be discreet'. The R.V. renders this 'to be sober-minded'. It might be read 'self-restrained'. In another place the original word is translated 'temperate'. Sober-mindedness is certainly a lesson which young women need today. Does not the age demand that the other meaning of this word, 'temperate,' be urged upon young women? The life of woman is often blasted through lack of self-restraint (3) A further apostolic lesson for young women is to be 'chaste' (4) 'Keepers at home' is again an indoctrination of St. Paul. The R.V. gives it as 'workers at home'. Home duties are the first of duties. (5) The next quality urged is 'good,' or as the R. V. has it 'kind'.
What if young women who name the name of Christ and profess His hallowed service omit or forget these homely duties? 'The word of God' will be 'blasphemed 'or evil spoken of.
Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p. 17.
'I have delivered up my son to you,' Cromwell wrote in 1649 to the Mayor of Hursley; 'and I hope you will counsel him; he will need it; and indeed I believe he likes well what you say and will be advised by you. I wish he may be serious; the times require it.' In the next year (1650) he again wrote to the same friend: 'I hope you give my son good counsel; I believe he needs it. He is in the dangerous time of his age; and it's a very vain world. O how good it is to close with Christ betimes! there is nothing else worth the looking after.'
Reference. II. 7. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 382.
Adorning the Doctrine
The universal test of religion is character, and that standard of judgment is a just standard. If the world is to be won for Christ it must be won by the unconscious evangelism of homely virtues and the upright, generous lives of the followers of Christ. Where you have a good life going out in the inspiration and power of Christianity you have an evidence of Christianity. As a sceptic once said: 'There is not an argument for Christianity that I do not see through except one. I cannot make out how it was my mother was so good a woman.'
I. The life that adorns the Gospel is the real evidence of Christianity. Christ implicitly rested the demonstration of His religion on the conduct of His disciples. The only evidence for Christ is that of Christians. We may treat that thought with effortless familiarity; but it is a wonderfully important thought full of thrust and moment. It means this, that Christians must be better than other men; if not, Christianity breaks down. Most of us are advocates for Christianity without being Christians. 'Christian is that Christian does.' You may know the truth of Christ, you may feel at times rapturously ecstatic. But what is it all for? All for this, to make us like Christ. Your religious life is not across the seas of far ideals and undiscovered truths your religious life consists in putting goodness into homely outward shape. There are still men like Bulstrode in Middlemarch, who could not conceive that there was any relation between his business and religion, who thought that 'the Lord's cause' had no connection with his shop at all.
II. How are we to be induced to adorn the Gospel of God? A preacher may stand up and say to his congregation 'Be good,' until the crack of doom. There is nothing more futile. It is not good advice that we need; it is good motive, or momentum to carry us past the place of danger. We need some principle of life, some flow of inspiration, that is large enough to influence the whole nature And that, as I understand it, is the crux of our holy religion. To be a Christian means to be in touch with Christ, to let Christ help us. Live so near to Christ that He has some chance of beautifying your life; submit yourself to the power of His Spirit. He means to be your comrade, your Saviour. But He cannot unless you will. When the Gospel of Christ grips a man's soul it entails the saving of a man's whole life.
B. J. Snell, The All-Enfolding Love, p. 129.
References. II. 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No. 2416. W. L. Watkinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 284. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Titus, p. 132. II. 11. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 140; ibid. vol. vi. p. 421. II. 11-14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1894. II. 11-15. J. A. Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 221. II. 17. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Titus, p. 149.
That Blessed Hope ( an Advent Sermon )
I fear that this great truth the coming again of the Lord is largely a neglected truth.
Since the Lord Jesus Christ departed into the heavens, and men are really touched by matters spiritual, you will find, if you study the history of the great majority of the professing Christians, that they have almost entirely, if not quite, ignored the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Person to fulfil a great historical event. They think of that as a merely emotional dream of certain enthusiasts; and if they do admit that He is coming again in glory, they simply think of it as a general idea that there will be some day a manifestation of judgment and glory; but with the details they have not the slightest possible interest
I. The Second Advent as a Matter of Reason. I ask you, as a matter of reason, is it likely that the Great High God, Who has, as we are told in the opening of the Epistle to the Hebrews, appointed His Son to be Heir of all things, would allow His retirement from the earth as if defeated, and never see to it that His purpose was completely fulfilled? When the Lord Jesus Christ left this world, He passed up from the Mount of Olives and from the sight of a few humble followers, who claimed Him in their hearts as King. But the world at large ignored Him entirely, and Satan might well have been said to have gained a magnificent victory, if nothing further took place historically with regard to the Jesus of Nazareth. Consequently, we may expect, on the very ground of reason, that there must be a further return of Christ in majesty and glory to claim the kingdoms of this world for Himself and His father. Otherwise, throughout the hosts of hell there might be an acclamation cry, 'We have beaten the Lord, that God of your heaven'. They have not beaten Him! They never can! And it is because we believe the Word of the living God, and expect our God is to have a triumphant victory in all matters connected with the history of this world, that we, some of us at least, are now 'looking for that blessed hope,' and we seem to see the dawn of that wondrous day when Christ shall take to Himself His great power and reign, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ
II. What Saith the Scripture? We must inquire what is revealed to us in the Scripture with regard to this historical fact, of which we are expecting the fulfilment In what manner will the Lord Jesus Christ return? Our text speaks of it as 'the glorious appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ'. He is to come 'in like manner' as He went up. And the Lord Jesus Christ, our Blessed Saviour, who went up to heaven as Jesus, the Perfect Man, to claim our places there and prepare them for us, in the presence of God and the angels, is coming back to 'receive the kingdom' according to His own parable. He comes to be King, and His title is to be 'the Lord Himself.
III. Christ and the Church. What will it be to Christ when He looks upon His Church, and says, 'My beloved, My beloved!' That is my Saviour's joy, my Saviour's reward for all His pains. 'For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,' henceforth waiting till His enemies are crushed, and His saints are ready to meet Him, and the cry goes up from earth as well as from heaven above: 'My Lord, my God'. Not only will it be a satisfaction to His own soul; He will see God satisfied, too. When He was upon earth, there was one thought in His mind. 'I have glorified Thee upon the earth... I came not to seek my own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me.' I can imagine (oh, so feebly!) the wondrous feeling of my Lord and Master as He looks upon that perfected Bride gathered in all ages from earth how He turns back for a moment to His Father's throne, and says, 'Father, I have glorified Thee; I have glorified Thee!'
IV. What Shall we Say to these Things? I ask you to think that we are to get ready. A little child said to its mother, 'Hadn't we better begin to pack up for heaven?' Are you beginning to pack up for glory? Are you getting ready, for that wondrous moment when all our beloved ones shall meet us not only our own beloved on earth, but our dearly beloved Lord to meet Him in the air and be like Him, because we see Him as He is. I beseech you to be getting ready, 'for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh'. Get ready, and help others. It is an honour to be called of God to go out and hasten the time when the Bride shall be ready to meet her Lord. Work your work while yet it is day; you will not have long to win souls for Jesus. Are we ready to receive Him? He will come in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. May our prayer be, 'Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly!'
References. II. 13. H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 266. D. L. Moody, The Fulness of the Gospel, p. 82. C. D. Bell, The Power of God, p. 197. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 109. II. 13, 14. J. Keble, Sermons for the Sundays After Trinity, p. 372. II. 14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 70. A. Maclaren, After the Resurrection, p. 241. G. A. Sowter, From Heart to Heart, p. 212. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 437; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 367. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Titus, p. 171; ibid. p. 180.
'I met the society [at Norwich] at seven,' says Wesley, in his journal for September, 1759, 'and told them in plain terms, that they were the most ignorant, self-conceited, self-willed, fickle, untractable, disorderly, disjointed society, that I knew in the three kingdoms. And God applied it to their hearts: so that many were profited; but I do not find that one was offended.'
Reference. II. 15. H. D. M. Spence, Voices and Silences p. 9.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Titus 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent