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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Titus 2

Verse 1

Titus 2:1

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine

Connexion with previous chapter: on the true pastor in contrast with the false

Titus’ duty is laid down by way of opposition, and knit to the former matter and chapter by the conjunction, But teach thou.

As if he had said, Although the false teachers whom I have described dote upon dreams, and feed their hearers with fancies and doctrines of men, to the corrupting and poisoning of souls, and turning men away from the truth, thou must be utterly unlike them in thy preaching; they speak pleasing things, but thou must speak profitable; they, by despising the simplicity of the gospel, fall not only into dangerous errors which they broach, but into loose and idle discourses which bring diseases upon the soul; but thou, on the contrary, must plainly and familiarly discover unto all estates of men and women their estates and duties, that thereby they may be brought to soundness; they cannot but speak and teach as they are; but let them trifle as they will, and live as they list, thou hast betaken thee to another service than that of man, and must carry thy ministry as becometh a sound teacher of the truth, which is according to godliness. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Lessons for ministers

No Christian minister nor man must be so shaken at the ungodly courses of others in their rank as that they either give over or give back from their uprightness in their duties, for Titus, although he might seem to be cried down by the general voice of false and pompous teachers, yet must he not be silent; and though he might be troubled and opposed, yet must he not be timorous or sluggish; and though his doctrine was not received nor obeyed, yet he must not be weary of tendering and teaching it; yea, be it that the world would rather applaud mockers and time servers, yet must not he discontentedly with Jonas turn another way, but look unto his own duty in serving God, his Church, and men’s salvations. Let others stand or fall to their own masters, it is safe for every man so to lay his counters as that his Master may find him doing, yea, well-doing.

The scope of every minister in his teaching must be to feed the people of God with wholesome doctrine, such as may bring the souls of men to health and soundness. For

1. If the common talk of Christians must be edifying, ministering grace, bring sweetness to the soul, and health to the bones; if it be required of every righteous man that his lips should feed many, nay, more, if the law of grace must sit under the lips of every virtuous woman, much more must the minister’s, whose office in peculiar bindeth him to be a pastor or feeder, and that according to God’s own heart, he having for this purpose received his calling, gifts, and approbation of God.

2. Otherwise he perverteth the whole course of his life and calling, and is no better than those false apostles who, turning themselves from sound teaching to unfruitful discourses, called vain jangling, are said to rove and err from the right aim, like unskilful darters or shooters. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Sound doctrine

We have only to look at the remaining part of this chapter to learn what paul means by “sound doctrine.” In this first verse he states the subject generally, and then branches it out into its various parts. Through the subsequent verses he directs Titus to explain to his flock the duties of their several stations, and to enforce these duties from motives suggested by the gospel. He was to exhort the aged and the young, masters and servants, male and female, to acquit themselves of every obligation which their situations imposed, and thus adorn the doctrines of God their Saviour. The performance of all their duties as Christians forms the perfection of holiness.

1. The apostle Paul says (Titus 3:8), “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” The same apostle in another place, distinguishing between true and false professors, says, “For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things but our conversation is in heaven, from whence, also, we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” “We are His workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.” The whole of the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is written to show that the true end of the doctrine of grace is to sanctify men. But to mention particularly all the passages which oblige us to holiness would be to recapitulate almost all the Bible; the whole book enforces obedience to the precepts of our Divine Master. It is sufficient to recollect His own words, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” The religion of Christ, which is intended to bring us into communion with God, brings us first to holiness, without which this communion is not to be attained. Believers are temples of the Holy Ghost; but, while we live in sin, can the Spirit of God dwell in us? Can He dwell in a man without producing the effects of His power and of His grace? Can He possess the heart, and yet leave the affections enslaved to sin?

2. From the tendency of its doctrines, considered as motives to action, the same thing is evident. There is no discrepancy betwixt the various parts of the gospel. While it inculcates purity and holiness of life, it affords us the most powerful motives to live soberly, righteously, and godly. Do we examine its precepts and rules of conduct? These give us an idea of holiness in a manner at once lively and impressive. Do we consider the manner in which the nature of vice is represented? Its miseries are described so fully and so well that we cannot but hold it in abhorrence; everywhere the Bible abounds with reasons most powerfully enforcing the necessary practice of a good life; all its mysteries point to this; all its doctrines are as strong bonds to hind our hearts to the obedience of faith--they are so many weapons of war, mighty through God to cast down imaginations and every high thing--to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. The gospel consecrates to holy uses even what the light of nature teaches us, as, that God is our Creator, who, at the beginning, called us into existence; that He is our Preserver, who, by a perpetual influence, supports us--that it is His providence that watches over the whole universe--particularly guards us, and furnishes us with whatever His goodness and wisdom judge needful for us. What can more forcibly incline us to the practice of obedience than these important truths, if well considered? Since God is our Creator, who gave us life, ought we not to devote that life to Him? Be it ours to view the mercies of God aright, and acknowledge that they all demand holiness unto the Lord. But these motives to holiness, however great and powerful, are as nothing compared with those which the gospel does net take from the light of reason, but from revelation. These latter motives, comprehended in Christ and His economy, are such as must affect every soul which is not dead in sin and insensible to every right impression. That the Almighty, after all our crimes, should be reconciled to us; that He should give His Son--give Him to be made man--to be our brother--our example; that He should give Him to die for us the most ignominious and cruel death; is not this love and mercy worthy of eternal praise? Are not these the strongest inducements to be holy in all manner of conversation? Who shall be found so ungrateful as to be capable of sinning against a God so merciful--of counting the blood of such a covenant an unholy thing?

Let us next consider the manner in which sound doctrine is to be spoken. The view of the Christian revelation already given is a sufficient reply to allegations against the two common modes of preaching. Some complain that the explanation and enforcement of precepts is not preaching Jesus Christ, while others complain that doctrines are stated and enlarged upon which have no relation to practice. While we preach Christ crucified, or exhort to virtuous conduct, let none say that we overlook the end of revelation, for each part, properly stated, does, in the most explicit manner, promote the end of the gospel the sanctification of believers. Let it be remembered, then, that whether a minister enforces a precept or explains a doctrine, he is bringing that precept or that doctrine to take its share in the grand design of the whole--the salvation of mankind; and that, in choosing either as the subject of discourse, he does not lose sight of what the gospel constantly keeps in view--that men who would inherit the kingdom which cannot be moved must “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

We next consider with what mind and in what manner this “sound doctrine is to be heard.” Though the preacher speak “never so wisely,” if the hearers neglect the means of instruction, his labour must be vain. Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to prayer. You ought to hear with serious attention, having repaired to the house of God with holy awe, having composed your spirits by prayer, lay aside each low and earthly thought, and earnestly devote your minds to learn the things that are profitable unto salvation. You must hear with meekness. Come to the house of God with modest and tractable dispositions, bring along with you the persuasion that you need frequently to be reminded of your duty. They only, who in good and honest hearts receive the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit. You must hear with particular application. When you hear a vice reproved of which your conscience accuses you, apply the reproof to yourselves, “O my soul, thou art the man.” Let the instructions which you hear be carefully laid up in your hearts, and reduced to practice in your lives. You must be “doers of the Word and not hearers only.” Religion is not an empty amusement or an airy speculation; it is the science of holiness, a practical art, a guide and director of human life. Make your prayer before the Lord your God, that you may understand His truth; God alone can seal the instructions you may receive. Whoever may plant, it is God that giveth the increase. Ask, in faith, wisdom from above, and “God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, will give it you.” (L. Adamson, D. D.)

The minister’s directory

He should be a preacher. “Speak.”

He should be himself. “Thou.”

He should be a student. “Sound doctrine.”

He should be practical. “The things which become.” (F. Wagstaff.)

Lessons for hearers

Hearers are hence taught sundry duties. As

1. To desire only this wholesome food that their souls may be well liking, laying aside their itching ears, which hunt after novelties, for the ministry is not appointed to beat the ear as music, but to sink into the soul as the food and medicine of it, by becoming the means and rule of life. Athenian hearing is the cause of Athenian preaching, and the diseases running upon such hearers showeth the curse of God on them, who with contempt of the manna from heaven, with the onions, garlic, and flesh of Egypt; these things they have upon their desire, and with them more than they desire, for they rot even between their teeth.

2. To receive the wholesome doctrine, as for the body we receive wholesome food what soever it be, or from whomsoever; let it be bitter sometimes, or seem too salt, yet if it be wholesome hunger findeth it savoury; no man but will strive to receive a bitter potion to restore his body out of any weakness to soundness; and yet who is it that will suffer a wholesome reproof to the recovery of soundness to the soul? and others stand so much upon toothsomeness of their meat, and must know their cooks so well, that before they can be resolved in these two, the plausibleness of the doctrine and the friendliness of the person, their souls are well nigh starved to death. Hence is it that we hear so many complaints. Oh, saith one, be seeketh not the goodwill of his hearers, nor casteth to please them; he is of a tart and bitter spirit; he seeketh to wound and gall, but he healeth nor suppleth not. But what preacheth he, whether any errors or the pure doctrine of God? No, say they, we cannot except against his doctrine. True, for they never trouble themselves so far as to examine it by the Word or themselves by it. But then, say I, is it the Word of God thou hearest, and the truth by thine own confession? Why dost thou then not tremble at that Word?

3. Hearers must hold wholesome doctrine when they have received it (2 Timothy 3:14). Continue in the things thou hast received; buy the truth, but sell it not, and bind it fast upon their hearts. And good reason, for if the meat be never so wholesome, if the stomach of the soul keep it not, but it slip the memory, and is not by meditation digested, the soul is as surely diseased as is the body when no sustenance will stay to strengthen it.

4. Hearers must so desire, receive, and hold this wholesome food, as they may grow by it, showing by their thriving in grace that they have wholesome meat (Psalms 109:4), for as in the body, if meat, when it is digested, send not virtue whereby the operation of it appeareth in all the parts, the body is diseased, some obstruction or opilation hindereth the work of it, so is the soul obstructed with the itching ear, covetous thoughts, hardness of heart, formal worship, all which keep the soul barren and empty of grace, yea, lean and ill-looking in the eyes of God. Seeing, therefore, the Lord hath spread His table for us, and liberally furnished it with store of this wholesome food, let it appear in our souls, by our strength to labour in Christian duties to which we are called, to overcome the temptations unto sin, to carry our victory in our strife against our own lusts. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Genuine morality

Genuine morality legislates alike for all mankind.

1. Age.

2. Sex.

3. Relationship.

Genuine morality reaches to the springs of the heart.

Genuine morality is the grand purpose of gospel teaching. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Healthy teaching

Sound teaching, according to Paul, is not teaching that has the conventional ring, not teaching that is divested of all freshness, originality, and stimulating force, but whatever goes to make moral fibre, whatever tends to build up strong men and women, whatever brings a healthy colour to the cheek, and gives life a true zest.

It is the healthy mind alone that can impart healthy teaching. A healthy mind is a free and untrammeled mind; a mind that plays freely around all questions, and forms its own unbiassed conclusions. A mind that has the clear vision of health, a mind that has the keen appetite of health, a mind that has the unvitiated palate of health, a mind that has the hardy courage of health, a mind that takes the world as it finds it. An independent mind, a mind that makes its own observations, draws its own inferences, is not a mere servile echo of other minds.

Healthy teaching is that which is healthful in its effects. Bad food cannot build up a robust frame. I will imagine that a mother has a puling, pining infant to rear. There is a question between divers kinds of diet. One authority says: “You ought to use mine, because it has the correct label on it, and is done up in the proper regulation tins.” But the mother says: “I have tried it, and the child starved upon it.” “But it has all the requisite chemical constituents in their due proportions. It must have been the native perversity of the child which prevented its thriving. It is the recognised thing, endorsed and recommended by the entire faculty.” “I cannot help that,” says the mother; “labels or no labels, tins or no tins, faculty or no faculty, all I know is that I have tried that food, and that if I had gone on with it, my child would have been dead by this time.” And then she is induced, by some old wife, perhaps, to try another preparation, natural and simple, nobody’s patent, with no label or endorsement whatever. But, lo, and behold! the child grows fat and plump, the hue of health comes gradually to its cheeks, and it weighs heavier every day! “But this is not an accredited compound. The great authorities on diet have not prescribed it. It cannot be wholesome.” Once more the mother retorts: “No matter. My child is alive and well.” Now, that is the true test to apply to religious teaching. What sort of men and women does it make? “Sound doctrine” is that which produces a healthy, spiritual life, which builds up character. (J. Halsey.)

Wholesome doctrine must be applied to the several ages and conditions of men

Every faithful minister must fit and apply his doctrine to the several ages, conditions, and occasions of his people, that every man and woman, young and old, superior and inferior, may know not only what is lawful, but what is most expedient and beseeming our age, place, and condition of life. It is true that all virtues in general are commanded, as all vices in general are forbidden, to all persons, of what sex or estate soever; yet there be some special virtues which are more shining ornaments in some age and condition than others, as in young men staidness and discretion are special beauties, but are not (if wanting) such blemishes in their years, as in old men, because of their observation and experience. So there be some special vices (though all are to strive against all) which are fouler spots and stains to some ages than to others, and some to which men and women are more subject by reason of their age or sex, as youth to headiness and rashness; old age to testiness, frowardness, covetousness, etc.; women to curiosity, loquacity, etc., against all which the man of God must in special furnish and arm his people, instantly striving to root out such noisome weeds as of their own accord appear out of the earthy hearts of men, as also to plant the contrary graces in their stead. Examples of this practice we meet withal everywhere in the Epistles. Paul, in divers of his Epistles, as to the Colossians, but especially to the Ephesians, describeth in particular the duties of wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants, masters (see Ephesians 5:6). Peter, in the second and third chapters, is as large in the distinct offices of subjects, wives, husbands, servants. And from this practice the apostle John dissenteth not (1 John 2:12), where he giveth his reasons why he writeth to fathers, to babes, to old men, and to young men. Besides these examples are sundry weighty reasons to enforce the doctrine.

1. As first, the faithfulness of a wise steward herein appeareth, namely, in distributing to every one of his master’s family their own portion of meat in due season (Luke 12:42).

2. To this purpose is the Word fitted, to make every man ready and absolute to every good work; and thus the wisdom of God is made to shine to all eyes, who can behold such a perfect rule of direction in faith and manners.

3. Well knew our apostle, with the other men of God, that general doctrines (though never so wholesome) little prevail, are but cold, and touch not men to the quick, without particular application to their several necessities; till Peter come to say, “You have crucified the Lord of glory,” we read of no pricking of their hearts. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Dealing with individuals

Richard Baxter adopted the method of individual dealing with the parishioners of Kidderminster, bringing them to his house and taking them apart one by one. He tells us that, because of it, he had reason to believe that more than a third of the grown up inhabitants of the place were converted to God. The late Mr. Grant of Arndilly was so intent upon this habit of individual intercourse that in three months he had dealt with fifteen hundred souls, while the refrain of all his letters, as Mrs. Gordon says, was always this, “Speak a word for Jesus.”

Verse 2

Titus 2:2

That the aged men be sober

The temptations and duties of old men


Sins to be avoided.

1. Indulgence in wine.

2. Irreverence.

3. Folly, “Temperate” here is really prudent, sound minded.

Virtues to be cherished.

1. Stability.

2. Love.

3. Patience. (F. Wagstaff.)

The duty of old men

Our apostle exempteth not old men from being subject to the doctrine of God because of their age, but rather sendeth them first to school, notwithstanding all that knowledge and experience which they might pretend (1 John 2:13). For God’s school is as well for old as for young, in which men are not only to be initiated in the principles of religion, but also to be led forward unto perfection of wisdom; and seeing no man can attain in this life unto perfection, therefore every man is still to press forward, and to wax old daily learning something. And there is great reason that as old men must first be instructed by Titus, so they should be the first in learning their duty.

1. First, in regard of example, for their presidence prevaileth much, and would be a great inducement to the younger, who need all encouragements in the ways of God, which example not being generally given by oar elder men, besides that they entangle themselves in the sins of the younger, we cannot marvel at the licentiousness of our youth.

2. The honour of their age, yea, the ornament and crown of their years, is to be sound in the ways of righteousness, that is, in a life led holily and justly, which two can never be found but in a heart submitted to the Word of God, the rule of both.

3. Whereas old men are delighted with relations of idle antiquities, and things formerly passed as long as they can recall, the Holy Ghost recalleth them from such unfruitful spending of their time, and showeth them that Christ and His doctrine, both of them being from the beginning, are most ancient, and consequently the knowledge and remembrance of Him is a matter best beseeming them; to have their senses and tongues exercised herein should be the delight of their age; to be conversant in the holy exercises which witness of Him should be their chief business, as old Hannah went not out of the Temple, and old Simeon waited there to see his salvation.

4. Their time by the course of nature cannot be long to fit themselves to heaven, and therefore they had not need slack any opportunity which might hasten them thither. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Suitable characteristics for the aged

Sobriety in all things is the peculiar character befitting age. Hasty, impulsive, intemperate speech, frivolous gaiety, thoughtless indulgence, are hateful in the old. The Christian elders should at least aim to possess the virtue without which hoary hair would be a disgrace rather than a crown of glory. They are not only to be “sober,” but “grave and discreet,” terms which nobly pourtray and illustrate the highest characteristics and the truest consecration of age,

Age should fly concourse, cover in retreat

Defects of judgment, and the will subdue;

Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore

Of the vast ocean it must sail so soon.

“Healthy,” or sound, must they be “in respect to their faith, love, and patient endurance.” The apostle, in his earliest Epistle (1 Thessalonians 1:3), congratulated that Church on “work” of theirs which originated in “faith,” on “labour unto weariness” which was dictated by “love,” and on “patient endurance” which was born of Christian “hope.” In writing to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:13), he says, “Now abideth faith, hope, love.” The Lord, from His throne of glory, addressed the Ephesian Church (Revelation 2:2) thus: “I know thy works, thy labour unto weariness, and thy patient endurance.” The passages throw light upon each other. Occasionally “hope,” the child of faith, the source of patience, the secret of peace, and the wellspring of joy, is substituted by the apostle for one or other of the emotions with which it is so closely associated, either as antecedent or consequent. But, making allowance for this characteristic touch, it is profoundly interesting to trace in this--one of the latest of the Pauline Epistles--the vibration of a note struck by him in his earliest; an argument of no small weight in determining the authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles. Paul would have Titus cultivate among the aged men of Crete the root principles out of which all holy living proceeds. The peculiarity of the Pastoral Epistles--reference, i.e., to the being “sound” or “healthy” in these respects--suggests the possibility that “faith” may be under mined or perverted; that “love” may become irregular, sentimental, partisan, or hysterical; and that “patience” may degenerate into listlessness, obstinacy, or stoicism, if it be not fed at the fountains of Christian “hope.” Does not the reference here to the causes and sources of holy living, rather than to those effects of them on which he had enlarged when writing to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:3), suggest to us that the longer St. Paul lived, he more and more acquired the habit of putting confidence in Christian principles and “sound” motives? (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Behaviour suitable for the aged

He that hath received much must bring forth much fruit, as the servant that had five talents committed unto him gained five other talents. So old men must be grave and sober, and carry a majesty in their countenance, that they may after a sort resemble the majesty of God. As gravity and sobriety agreeth to every age, so most especially to the elder age, contrary to which is lightness, lasciviousness, and waywardness, which make them not honourable, but odious, not to be reverenced, but to be despised in the eyes of the younger sort. Let them adorn their years with those virtues which the apostle nameth. If they be careful to express these things which become wholesome doctrine, they shall manifestly show that their living so in the world hath not been in vain; but honour is not seemly for a fool. The wise man saith, “The beauty of the young men is their strength, and the glory of the aged is the greyheaded,” that is, wisdom, counsel, experience, whereby they are more adorned than the young man is beautified by his bodily strength. For the ornaments of the mind are to be preferred before the properties of the body. Again, they must be examples of a godly life and holy conversation, that youth may stand in fear to commit any indecent and unseemly thing in their presence. Thus Job saith of himself (chap 29), “When I went out of the gate, the young men saw me, and hid themselves.” But when the elder sort are ringleaders and examples of an evil and corrupt life, there is more gravity on their heads than piety in their hearts; in their white hairs than in their behaviour; and so the crown of honour is taken from them, and they are justly condemned, despised, and reproached of those of whom they should be honoured. For we may see old men so hardened in wickedness, that if a man would find whole heaps of wickedness, he need seek no farther but to them. We are all to honour the grey head and to magnify old age, for (as Solomon saith) “Age is a crown of glory when it is found in the way of righteousness,” whereby he meaneth that old age, seasoned with a godly life and upright, bringeth with it as great glory as a crown on the head and a sceptre in the hand doth unto a king, and therefore such old men are greatly to be reverenced and highly to be esteemed. But many, except they should be honoured for their ignorance, superstition, frowardness, maliciousness, waywardness, covetousness, drunkenness, licentiousness, and self-will, there is nothing else to be found in them, to be learned of them, to be gathered from them. By these foul enormities they bring themselves into contempt, and bring shame and reproach upon their own heads, so that no man defameth and dishonoureth them so much as themselves. Surely, if young men misbehave and misgovern themselves, they are not to be excused, but to be reproved, because they ought to order their lives aright, and remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and not deserve to be evil spoken or reported of; but old folks are doubly worthy of the shame that men do them, if they be not honoured for their virtues. They should learn by their long life and old age to grow in the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ, to hate sin, to delight in righteousness, and daily to die unto the world. (W. Attersoll.)

The theological use of old age

One of the uses of the aged is to keep our theology sweet. I should be very much afraid for evangelical doctrine if there were none but young men in the Church. Youth loves to speculate. Old age loves to rest in ascertained realities. Youth is destructive. You have seen a boy when he has got a gun. He goes popping at everything--sparrows, cats, barn doors. He can hardly resist levelling even at his own father. So, when a young man becomes conscious of the possession of reason, he is for exercising it upon everything. Nothing is so sacred as to be beyond the reach of this destructive weapon, and truths are often in danger of being swept away along with the falsities. But, on the other hand, old age is proverbially conservative, and so the needful counteractive is supplied. A man may have gone very wide in his young days, but, as a rule, he comes round again to the old starting point--comes home to the old centre when he is verging upon threescore years and ten. A soul that is consciously on the brink of eternity cannot do with the shallow fallacies that once passed muster as excellent substitutes for the old faith. It finds that, after all, the old gospel is the thing it wants. The late learned Dr. Duncan said to a student, “I do not forbid you to speculate. I like speculation. I have speculated a great deal during my life, but now that I am turning an old man, I am in love with the facts.” Then he added in a quasi-humorous tone, “Now that I’m an auld man, I have just come back to the theology of the old wives and the bairns. I like that.” This is a useful element in the Church. Thank God for the aged and for their tenacious grasp of the essential verities of the gospel. (J. Halsey.)

If age be blended with naughtiness, the older the worse

An old river without water quencheth not our thirst. An old friend that hath lost his honesty is worse than an old picture that hath lost its colour. Old wine no man commends; when it is turned to vinegar, let them take it that like it. An old house is no safe harbour when it is ready to fall on the inhabiter’s head. An old man that hath lost his experience is like a boulter; much good flour hath gone through it, but there is nothing left in it but bran. (T. Adams.)


The limit of law and reason

Notice the frequent occurrence of a single epithet which may almost be said to characterise Christian behaviour, as St. Paul, in his later days, came to conceive of it. The repetition of the word I mean is veiled from readers of the Authorised Version by variations in the rendering of it. In one form or another it really occurs in these verses four times. First, old men are to be “temperate”: that is its first occurrence. Then, elderly females are to teach the young wives to be “sober,” another use of the same word. Next, the younger women are to be “discreet,” the same word. Finally, it is the solitary requirement for young men that they be “sober minded,” where once more the same word is retained. What is this moral quality which Paul felt it to be so necessary to enforce upon every age and on both sexes? It denotes that moral health which results from a complete mastery over the passions and desires, “so that,” in Archbishop Trench’s words, “they receive no further allowance than that which the law and the right reason admit and approve.” Self-control would probably come as near the idea as any single word we can employ. But it includes such moral sanity or wisdom of character as is only to be attained through the habitual control of the reason over loose, illicit, or excessive desires of every kind. It is by no means to be wondered at that St. Paul should have laid much emphasis on this virtue. Heathen society in its later periods was remarkable for the weakening of self-control. Self-indulgence became at once its danger and its disgrace. When religion came to be thoroughly divorced from ethics, no curb remained strong enough to restrain the bulk of men either from angry passion or from sensual gratification. Against this tendency of the later classical period philosophers and moralists were never weary of inveighing. The very word which St. Paul here uses was with them the technical name for a cardinal virtue, the praises of which, as “the fairest of the gifts of the gods,” they were always sounding. But the foolish excess which heathen religion had failed to check defied heathen philosophy too. The time had come for Christianity to try its hand. The task was a hard one. I have no doubt Paul beheld with anxiety the growing inroads which, before his death, the loose and reckless habits of his age had begun to make even upon those little sheltered companies that had sought a new refuge beneath the Cross. In these latest writings he reiterates the warning to be sober minded with no less urgency than Plato or Aristotle. We may well thank God that he based the admonition on more prevailing pleas. It took a long time for Christianity to lay the foundations of a manlier and purer society; but it did so in the end. The old civilisation was past remedy and perished. Into the new, which should take its place, the gospel inspired a nobler temper. The restored authority of Divine law and the awful sense of the evil of sin, which were the Church’s inheritance from Judaism, the value of personal purity which it learned at the Cross, the new conception of sanctity which Christ created, the hopes and dreads of the hereafter: these things trained our modern nations in their youth to a reverential sobriety of character, an awe for what is holy, and a temperate enjoyment of sensual delights, such as had utterly disappeared from the Greco-Roman world. It is for us to take heed, lest, amid the growth of wealth, the cheapening of luxuries, and the revolt against restraining authority which distinguish our own age, we should forfeit, before we are aware of it, some of that chastened decorous simplicity and manly self-control which lies so near the base of a noble Christian character, and which has been one of the gospel’s choicest gifts to human society. (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Verses 3-5

Titus 2:3-5

The aged women

The dangers and duties of women


Women have peculiar dangers according to their age. The older ones are tempted to seek the excitement of stimulants, or of slander; the younger ones to instability of affection, to impurity of life, or other inconsistency of conduct.

Women have duties peculiar to their age. The younger have duties of obedience; the middle-aged have the cares of home life; the aged have the instruction of the younger. (F. Wagstaff)

Religious home life

True religion is the foundation of home happiness.

True religion is the secret of domestic prosperity.

True religion at home can alone insure the esteem and respect of those abroad. (F. Wagstaff)

Apostolic advice to the aged women

The gospel revealed the lofty destiny of woman, and it is not surprising that St. Paul should continue his advice to Titus thus: “Enjoin that the aged women in like manner, should preserve in their demeanour holy propriety.” As Jerome has it, “Their gait and motion, their countenance, their speech, and their silence, should exhibit a certain dignity of sacred decorum.” The very word seems to convey the fine thought that there is a consecration, a sacerdotal eminence and sanctity, possible and even normal, in the life of woman. The aged woman should have in her looks and ways something better than the garment of the priest or the aureole of the saint. It is fitting and seemly that she should. The apostle adds a grim touch after this hint of saintly sacerdotal beauty. He knew the temptation of “old women” of both sexes to be censorious, blundering, and self-indulgent, and so he adds, “Let them not be slanderous, nor enslaved by much wine.” They are, moreover, to be “mistresses of honour,” capable of “beautifully instructing” by their word and example those who look up to them for counsel. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Holiness consists of little duties

Did a holy life consist of one or two noble deeds--some signal specimens of doing, or enduring, or suffering--we might account for the failure, or reckon it small dishonour to turn back in such a conflict, But a holy life is made up of small things of the hour, and not the great things of the age, that fill up a life like that of Paul or John, like that of Rutherford, or Brainerd, or Martyn. The avoidance of little evils, little sins, little inconsistencies, little weaknesses, little follies, little indiscretions and imprudences, little foibles, little indulgences of self, little bits of coveteousness and penuriousness, little exhibitions of worldliness and gaiety, little indifferences to the feelings or wishes of others: the avoidance of such little things as these goes far to make up at least the negative beauty of holy life. And then attention to little duties of the day and hour in public transactions, or private dealings, or family arrangements; to little words, and looks, and tones; little self-denials and self-restraints and self-forgetfulness: these are the active developments of holy life, the rich and Divine mosaics of which it is composed. What makes yon green hill so beautiful? blot the outstanding peak or stately elm, but the bright sward which clothes its slopes, composed of innumerable blades of slender grass. It is of small things that a great life is made up; and he who will acknowledge no life as great, save that which is built up of great things, will find little in Bible character to admire or copy.

The bloom of the aged

A good woman never grows old. Years may pass over her head, but if benevolence and virtue dwell in her heart, she is as cheerful as when the spring of life first opened to her view. When we look upon a good woman we never think of her age; she looks as charming as when the rose of youth first bloomed on her cheek. That rose has not faded yet; it will never fade. In her neighbourhood she is the friend and benefactor. Who does not respect and love the woman who has passed her days in acts of kindness and mercy--who has been the friend of man and God--whose whole life has been a scene of kindness and love and devotion to truth? We repeat, such a woman cannot grow old. She will always be fresh and buoyant in spirit and active in humble deeds of mercy and benevolence. If the young lady desires to retain the bloom and beauty of youth, let her not yield to the sway of fashion and folly; let her love truth and virtue, and to the close of life she will retain those feelings which now make life appear a garden of sweets, ever fresh and ever new. (Great Thoughts.)

Not false accusers.

Rules to avoid false accusing

1. Look to thine own calling and the necessary duties of it, that so following thine own plough, thou mayest have no leisure to intermeddle in other men’s affairs: busy bodies and prattlers are joined by the apostle.

2. Beware of envy, which is still hatching and inventing evil: the saying is true, “Malice never spake well,” but is suspicious, and depraving the best persons and practices, and is one of the greatest enemies of truth, in which God’s image chiefly consisteth.

3. Learn to esteem the good name of thy brother, the next thing to his life, considering the truth of that homely speech, that he that wanteth a good name is half hanged; and there is great reason that those who would have their names tendered by others should tender the good name of others, doing as they would be done unto, which is the golden rule of all equity.

4. In receiving reports excuse parties absent as far as well we can, as also facts done, so far as they may be well interpreted; and where we cannot do so to advise the reporter to look well unto and consider himself. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

False accusation

Often are the most painful wrongs inflicted through the medium of covert inuendoes and malignant insinuations. Half of a fact is a whole falsehood. He who gives the truth a false colouring by a false manner of telling it is the worst of liars. Such was Doeg in his testimony against the priests. He stated the facts in the case, but gave them such an artful interpretation as to impart to them the aspect and influence of the most flagrant falsehoods. It was through the same mode of procedure that our Lord was condemned. A perverse misconstruction was given to His words, so that what was spoken in loyalty to the highest truth, was transformed into treason worthy of death. (E. L. Magoon.)

That they may teach the young women

The education of young women

The young women are mentioned here as under the teaching and authority of the aged. What now are some of the first elements which Paul insists on in the education of a Christian family? He omits many things which one would have supposed to stand high in the list of young ladies’ accomplishments; for example, music, dancing, and the art of binding themselves into the shape of sand glasses. Perhaps the apostle thought them sufficiently advanced in such acquirements, and that therefore he might pass them over in silence. He insists, however, that these aged governesses shall teach the following great elementary principles.

1. That the young woman be sober, wise, of a sound mind, prudent and discreet members of the Church of Christ. The first element, then, in the education of your daughters is wisdom or prudence; and if you begin anywhere else with them, you begin at the wrong end. This wisdom or prudence is not easily defined, but it will appear in the entire character and conduct of their future life; it will enable them to avoid the snares which the ungodly lay for them, and conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the name and the religion of their Redeemer. This prudence is opposed to rashness, enthusiasm, and impulsive resolutions, to which the young mind, and especially the young female mind, is naturally inclined.

2. Then secondly, they are to love their husbands, for without this the house will become a pandemonium, and profligacy and impurity fill the land. Their love to their husbands should be ardent and unchangeable, yielding neither to the seduction of strangers nor to the husband’s coldness and neglect at home.

3. To love their children. It may be asked, Is not this love natural? and if so, where is the necessity for teaching it? I answer, bad habits in society can eradicate many of the principles of our nature, and make us more degraded and unfeeling than the brutes. Edmund Burke relates that J.J. Rousseau would not keep his children in his house, but sent them to be brought up in an hospital; and then remarks, “that bears love their young, and lick them into shape, but bears are not philosophers.” In India the natural love of our offspring was conquered by the tyranny of a terrible custom, and millions of female infants were destroyed in infancy by the mother’s hands! Is the murder of infants altogether unheard of among us? Are there no Foundling hospitals within the bounds of Christendom? Then remember that the Isle of Crete was one of the wickedest places in the world, and the inhabitants mere heathen, and you shall see the force of the exhortation to “love their children.” It is an awful fact, which I first heard of in Hamburgh, that in the continental cities there is a class of old wives, real old devils, who are called “child murderesses,” and whose office it is to save the mother and destroy the child! In this way myriads of innocent infants are sacrificed, and no eye but the eye of God, the mother, and the murderess, ever knows anything about it!

4. They are to be discreet, which is the same as sober, mentioned in the fourth verse; chaste, viz., placing all their happiness in their husbands and families alone; keepers at home, that they may attend to the affairs of the household, and be an example to their children. It is not the duty of a married woman with a family to engage much in public business, even though it should be of the most important kind. Her place is the family circle, and her duty is to stay at home. We may say the same of much visiting. It is impossible to gad about and take care of the family at the same time; and as to the mother handing over her children to the care of servants, and then giving herself little or no concern about them, I say with Edmund Burke that such conduct would be a slander on the instinct of the brutes!

5. Good; they are to be good wives, faithful and diligent in their household duties. Good is a very expressive word, and is used to denote the highest excellence (Acts 11:24). Good (from which our word God comes, the Good One) I take in its most general acceptation to signify the disposition to bless; it is the fountain of kindness within, from which love, mercy, and all gentle and kind actions flow; “obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.” The great duty of the wife is obedience, and in this she is a type of the Church’s obedience and submission to Christ. Love is common to both, though the natural order is that his should go before and hers follow after, as in the case of Christ and the Church; then obedience is her special duty, even as protection and defence are his. The command, probably, has a special reference to wives who were united to unbelieving or heathen husbands, and teaches that grace never delivers us from the obligations of nature--they are, though believing, to be obedient to their husbands though unbelieving, and the husband, though unbelieving, is bound to love, support, and protect his wife, though she is a believer in the gospel. (W. Graham, D. D.)

Pastoral dealings with young women

A delicate tact may be observed in St. Paul’s management of the younger women. To them he does not bid Titus address himself at all. Although he thinks of them as already married, yet the admonitions of the pastor are to pass, as it were, through the lips of the senior matrons. Some of these may have been official “deaconesses” (like Phoebe at Cenchraea), but this is by no means essential to the spirit of his instructions. Whether officially set apart to minister among her own sex, as was the salutary habit of the early Church, or not, it is in the privacy of the home, or the retired gathering for prayer and female industry, that the wholesome influence of a Christian matron of experience and weight of character may most advantageously be exerted. And it is through the familiar intercourse of such “mothers in Israel” with their younger sisters that a Christian minister can most suitably and safely reach the maidens and young housewives of his flock. So at least St. Paul judged. The homely housewifely virtues which are here specified do seem to be best taught by female lips. In seven particulars has this unmarried old man succeeded in covering the circle of a young wife’s duties. Her devotion to husband and babes, her discipline of herself into suitable decorum, her womanly purity, her household industry, her benign sweetness of temper, her due deference to her husband: such are the graces by which within her gracious realm of home the youthful matron is to glorify her Saviour and her God. What a surprising elevation did the gospel confer on woman at its first promulgation! The sudden discovery that “in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female” might have a tendency at the first to relax somewhat those restraints which sex and marriage impose on woman; but, if the wholesome influence Paul desired could be exerted by matrons of maturer character, it is plain that so far from the Christian wife giving her husband (heathen though he might still be) any cause to speak ill of her new faith--her chastity, her meekness, her diligence, her obedience, would be certain to recommend the gospel in which her soul had found the secret of a behaviour so gracious and so beautiful. (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

A husband endeared

“I am thankful to the Nihilists for one thing,” says the Czarina. “They have made me love my husband dearly. Our home life has become so different since I began to look on him as though he were under sentence of death. You can’t think how deeply his menaced state attaches me to him.”

A heartless mother reproved by a sparrow

Down in a London slum there lived a working man, his wife, and four children, all wretched and miserable through drink. The drunken wife one evening, wandering about in misery, saw a sparrow pick up a crumb and carry it to her young in her nest. The poor woman turned pale, trembled for a moment, and burst into tears. The day of repentance had come to her. “Oh!” she exclaimed, “that sparrow feeds her young birds, and I neglect my young children. And what for? Drink. Nothing but drink!” And she wrung her hands and wept. Then she arose and went home to pray. She cried unto God in her distress and He sent His message of forgiveness to her soul. Then her face wore a new beauty, and her husband and family looked wonderingly upon her. She kissed them all, one by one, and told them how she had become changed. The husband, under his wife’s teaching, became a Christian, and a happy home, with comfort, peace, and plenty, soon followed. (G. W. McCree.)

A faithful wife

There is nothing upon this earth that can compare with the faithful attachment of a wife; no creature who for the object of her love is so indomitable, so persevering, so ready to suffer and to die. Under the most depressing circumstances, a woman’s weakness becomes mighty power; her timidity becomes fearless courage; all her shrinking and sinking passes away; and her spirit acquires the firmness of marble--adamantine firmness--when circumstances drive her to put forth all her energies under the inspiration of her affections. (D. Webster.)

Influence of a good wife

Oftentimes I have seen a tall ship glide by against the tide as if drawn by some invisible bow line, with a hundred strong arms pulling it. Her sails unfilled, her streamers were drooping, she had neither side wheel nor stern wheel; still she moved on, stately, in serene triumph, as with her own life. But I knew that on the other side of the ship, hidden beneath the great bulk that swam so majestically, there was a little toilsome steam tug, with a heart of fire and arms of iron, that was tugging it bravely on; and I knew that if the little steam tug untwined her arms, and left the ship, it would wallow, and roll about, and drift hither and thither, and go off with the refluent tide, no man knows whither. And so I have known more than one genius, high-decked, full-freighted, idle-sailed, gay-pennoned, who, but for the bare, toiling arms and brave, warm-beating heart of the faithful little wife that nestles close to him, so that no wind or wave could part them, would have gone down with the stream, and have been heard of no more.

Early Christian women

“What women these Christians have!” exclaimed the heathen rhetorician Libanius, on hearing about Anthusa, the mother of John Chrysostom, the famous “golden-mouthed” preacher of the gospel at Constantinople in the fourth century. Anthusa, at the early age of twenty, lost her husband, and thenceforward devoted herself wholly to the education of her son, refusing all offers of further marriage. Her intelligence and piety moulded the boy’s character and shaped the destiny of the man, who, in his subsequent position of eminence, never forgot what he owed to maternal influence. Hence, it would be no overstrained assertion to say that we owe those rich homilies of Chrysostom, of which interpreters of Scriptures still make great use, to the mind and heart of Anthusa.

Another’s love

The intensity of maternal affection was illustrated in the observation of a little boy, who, after reading Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” asked his mother which of the characters she liked best. She replied, “Christian, of course: he is the hero of the story.” The dear child responded, “Mother, I like Christiana best, because, when Christian set out on his pilgrimage, he went alone; but, when Christiana started, she took the children with her.”

Christianity at home

I have no faith in that woman who talks of grace and glory abroad, and uses no soap at home. Let the buttons be on the shirts, let the children’s socks be mended, let the roast mutton be done to a turn, let the house be as neat as a new pin, and the home be as happy as home can be; and then, when the cannon balls, and the marbles, and the shots, and even the grains of sand, are all in the box, even then there will be room for those little deeds of love and faith which, in my Master’s name, I seek of you who love His appearing. Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

True marriage

Husband, in our old Saxon speech meant houseband--the stay of the house; and a wife should be a “help meet” for the husband. She should be a “keeper at home.” Phidias, when he depicted a woman, made her to sit under a snail shell, this signifying, that like the snail she should never be far away from her home. (J. G. Pilkington.)



A virtue before required both in the minister (Titus 1:8), and in elder men (Titus 2:2), and now in younger women, being a grace requisite for all estates, ages, sexes, and conditions of life; requiring that the reins of affections be subjected unto reason, and moderated by judgment, not suffering a thought to be entertained and settled in the mind which is not first warranted in the Word, without which, if the reins be slacked but a little, the mind is suddenly vanquished, taken, and lead captive of manifold lusts. This grace, then, is the watchman and moderator of the mind, keeping and guarding it from pleasures altogether unlawful, and in lawful curbing and cutting off excess and abuse. It watcheth also over the affections of the heart and actions of the life, resisting all light behaviour, all childish carriage, all unquiet and troublesome passions, such as are suspicions, jealousies, which are the fuels and firebrands of much mischief; and the distempers of flashing anger, rage, and unjust vexation. It suffereth not undutifulness to the husband, unnaturalness towards the children, unmercifulness towards servants, untowardness in her own duties, unthankful meddling with other folks’ affairs. It is a procurer and preservative of many graces, a bond of her own and others’ peace, a settler of the comfort of her life, an ornament of her head, and of her house; which once let her to be disrobed of, she may bid farewell to her family’s welfare; for let any vile affection bear sway but for a little while, as of anger, impatience, excessive grief, intemperance, or any such, how is the whole house in a kind of tumult! which as a commonwealth in the commotion and rising of some one rebel, cannot be composed and settled till the rebel be subdued; which they find too true who in their match were left unto themselves, to make choice of such as wanted then, and yet bare not attained with the fear of God the practice of this virtue. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Keepers at home

Home the place for women

Not that a woman is never to be found without her house over her head, for many necessary and just occasions call her often abroad, namely

1. As a Christian, the public duties of piety and God’s worship; as also more private duties of love, and works of mercy in visiting and helping the sick and poor.

2. As a wife, both with her husband when he shall require her, and without him for the necessary provision of the household--and such like. But the thing here condemned is the affection of gadding at any or all hours, with disposition of hearing or telling news, or affecting merriments, company, expense or excess, accounting the house rather a prison than a home, and so easily forsaking it without all just occasion.

And justly is this course condemned, for

1. This is a forsaking and flying for the time out of the calling wherein they ought to abide, for their calling is commonly within doors to keep the household in good order, and therefore for them to wander from their own place, is as if a bird should wander from her own nest.

2. This were the highway to become busybodies, for what other more weighty matters call them out of their calling, but to prattle of persons and actions which concern them not? Whence the apostle (1 Timothy 5:13) coupleth these two together, they are idle, and busybodies; which if any wonder how they can be reconciled, thus they are easily: those that are idle in their own duties are busybodies in other men’s; and these busybodies have two special marks to be known by to themselves and others, namely, their open ears and their loose tongues.

3. The Holy Ghost maketh this a note of an whorish woman, she is everywhere but where she should be, sometimes gadding in the streets with Thamar, sometimes in the fields with Dinah, sometimes without at her door, sometimes at her stall, but her feet cannot abide in her house: and if against her will her body be within doors, her heart and senses will be without. Jezebel must be gazing out of the window: whereas if the angel ask where Sarah is, answer will be made, she is in her tent; and the daughters of Sarah will be in their tents, not in the taverns, nor straggling so far abroad but that their husbands can readily answer where they be.

4. What desperate and unavoidable evils do they (and justly) lay themselves open unto, who make no bones of violating the commandment of God? how doth Satan watch all advantages to take them when they are out of their ways? and how easily doth he prevail against them when they have plucked themselves from under God’s protection? Dinah was no sooner assaulted than overcome in her wandering; and Eve no sooner absent from Adam than set upon, and no sooner set upon, than vanquished. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A worker at home

Here is a note written by Mrs. Garfield to her husband some years ago, and originally designed for no eye but his. It may be helpful to many others whose lot is hard work:--“I am glad to tell that, out of all the toil and disappointments of the summer just ended, I have risen up to a victory; that silence of thought since you have been away has won for my spirit a triumph. I read something like this the other day: ‘There is no healthy thought without labour, and thought makes the labour happy.’ Perhaps this is the way I have been able to climb up higher. It came to me one morning when I was making bread. I said to myself, ‘Here I am, compelled by inevitable necessity to make our bread this summer. Why not consider it a pleasant occupation, and make it so by trying to see what perfect bread I can make?’ It seemed like an inspiration--and the whole of life grew brighter. The very sunshine seemed flowing down through my spirit into the white loaves; and now I believe my table is furnished with better bread than ever before; and this truth--old as creation--seems just now to have become fully mine, that I need not to be the shirking slave of toil, but its regal master, making whatever I do yield its best fruits.” (Christian Age.)

Christian home life

Home is specially Teutonic, word and thing. Teutonic sentiment, we know, from very early times, was proud, elevated, even austere, in regard to the family and the relations of the sexes. This nobleness of heathenism Christianity consecrated and transformed into all the beautiful shapes of household piety, household affection, household purity. The life of home has become the great possession, the great delight, the great social achievement of our race. The absence of this taste for the quiet and unexcited life of home is a formidable symptom in portions of our race across the Atlantic. And when home life with its sanctities, its simplicity, its calm and deep joys and sorrows, ceases to have its charm for us in England, the greatest breakup and catastrophe in English history will not be far off. (Dean Church.)

Obedient to their own husbands

A sermon to young wives

Take an interest in all that concerns your husband. When he speaks, listen. When he is depressed try to cheer him. When he is exultant share in his rejoicing. When he is overwhelmed with work see if you can assist him; and certainly never, at such troubled and anxious times, increase his burden by any domestic disorder. Luther had such a wife. She entered into his enthusiasm. She read and prized his books. She surrounded him with the invigorating atmosphere of true love. She helped him in his labours. Lord William Russell had such a wife. She shared with him in all his efforts. Stood by his side in the time of his misfortune. Acted as his secretary when on his trial. Visited him in the Tower of London, and did her best to console him before he was beheaded. Then went back home to train her family to be worthy of the name of so courageous a father. Flaxman, the eminent sculptor, had such a wife. When he ventured on matrimony Sir Joshua Reynolds declared him to be a ruined man. But the future proved the opposite. For thirty-eight years his wife did her utmost to aid him in his calling. Her admiration of his work, and her devotion to his comfort, assisted to make him what Byron pronounced, “the best translator of Dante.” Hood had such a wife. Though a woman of unusual cultivation and literary taste, yet she yielded gracefully to the whims and fancies of her husband. She good humouredly accepted his practical jokes, and became indispensable to his happiness. So much so that Hood could not endure her absence from home. Without her he was restless and impatient. Bishop Wilberforce had such a wife. She entered into his clerical duties and responsibilities. When, after thirteen years of unalloyed comfort, she died, the life of the bishop became tinged with sadness. Hence, referring to his wife, he once wrote, “It is most sad going home. If I went home to her it were beyond all words.” The late Earl of Beaconsfield had such a wife. When, as Benjamin Disraeli, he published “Sybil,” and dedicated it “to the most severe of critics--but a perfect wife,” he let in a flood of light upon the character of the future countess. And nothing could be a stronger proof of her thorough devotion to her husband’s interests, than that afforded by her conduct on one occasion when driving with him to the House of Commons. By accident her finger was crushed in closing the carriage door. Thinking that any cry of pain would disturb the mind of Benjamin, who was deep in the great speech he was that night to deliver, the faithful, sympathetic wife nobly endured the agony without a single word, till her husband was in his place in the House.

Let it be manifest that home has the precedence in your thoughts and affections. Hume tells us, in his history, that in the reign of Henry VIII a proclamation was issued forbidding women to meet together for babble and talk, and directing husbands to keep their wives in their houses. Such a proclamation gives us a sorry insight into the domestic life of our ancestors. Society has improved since then. Still, there are now not wanting very strong temptations to gadding about. Never were there more numerous or more attractive exhibitions on view, never were there more frequent or more important public meetings for benevolent and religious purposes, and never were there greater facilities for transition from spot to spot. And, alas! there are some young wives who seem to feel it incumbent on them to be present and assist at every gathering designed to promote some useful enterprise. The result is that home is often neglected, the children run riot, the domestics grow careless, and the husband returns, after a day’s activities and annoyances, to find, what should be a quiet refuge from the world’s turmoil, a deserted, disorderly, cheerless spot. I ask you to remember, young woman, that a wife’s true orbit is home. In ancient Rome a high compliment was paid a queen by the epitaph, “She staid at home and spun.” The ancient Greeks suggested the same feminine duty by carving Venus on a tortoise. In ancient Boeotia, when a bride was conveyed to her husband’s house the wheels of the vehicle in which she travelled thither were burned at the doors, as an intimation that they would not be needed again. So today in Turkey, in India, in Spanish America, and elsewhere seclusion is the true sign of respectability. To be high bred is to be invisible. Whilst, in our own land, though women enjoy freedom to think, and act, and speak, and are denied no rights of real and enduring value, yet they are most trusted and loved by their husbands and families who are good keepers of home, who make their first and foremost study the temporal and spiritual welfare of those nearest at hand and dearest at heart. There is something quaint, however questionable, in the observation of a clergyman who ventured to preach upon the subject of women’s sphere. He chose for his text “Where is thy wife? Behold, she is in the tent.” He started his discourse by the remark: “There she ought to be, and the less she is heard outside the better.” I would qualify that preacher’s words and say: “By all means let her be heard and seen outside the tent if she have fully and faithfully discharged her duty inside the tent. But if to be seen and heard outside she must neglect her own household, then let her keep at home,”

Do your utmost to retain the confidence and affection of your husband. As you examine the magnificent monument in Hyde Park, erected in memory of the late Prince Consort, you observe that the only figure that is represented twice is that of the celebrated Michael Angelo. Among the painters he leans upon the chair of Raphael. Among architects and sculptors, he is the middle of a far-famed group. And justly is he thus honoured, for his genius was exceptionally great. But far above his fresco in the Sistine Chapel, far above his “Last Judgment,” far above his cupola of St. Peter’s, far above his “Sleeping Cupid,” which Raphael pronounced worthy of Phidias or Praxiteles, stands the sonnet to his wife. Angelo profoundly loved and adored Vittoria Colonna. When she died he lingered by her corpse, and kissed affectionately the clay-cold hand; his only regret afterwards being that he had not kissed her cheeks. And why such deep and enduring affection? Because the wife elicited it, and by constant care retained it. She impressed him with the preciousness of virtue. She elevated his thought and inspired him to write:

“For oh! how good, how beautiful, must be

The God that made so good a thing as thee.”

Macaulay describes the painful scene at the death of Mary, wife of William of Orange. The king’s agony was intense. Amid scalding tears he testified to the excellency of the departed Queen, saying to Bishop Burnet, “I was the happiest man on earth, and I am the most miserable. She had no fault--none; you knew her well but you could not know, nobody but myself could know, her goodness.” Not unworthy of notice is the homely advice given by an old lady to her newly-married daughter, “Never worry your husband. A man is like an egg, kept in hot water a little while he may boil soft, but keep him there too long and he hardens.”

Be governed in all your relationships by true religion. Let the sound, safe, significant principles of godliness guide you. Let the love of Christ constrain you in all your household and family engagements. Do what you are called to do heartily as unto the Lord. Remember that there is One greater, better, wiser, and more loving and loveable than your earthly husband--One who claims and deserves all the affection of your heart, all the homage of your mind, all the service of your life. “Thy Maker is thy husband.” The Lord Jesus is the bridegroom of your soul. As a wife renounces old familiar scenes, customary engagements, and long-known associates for her husband, so you are asked to be ready to renounce all for Jesus. As a wife surrenders all her time, influence, and possessions to her husband, so you are asked to make a voluntary and joyful surrender of yourself and all your belongings to Christ. As a wife consents to share with her husband in all vicissitudes, in adversity as well as prosperity, so you are asked to follow the Lord whithersoever He may lead, through evil and through good report, counting it an honour to be partaker of His sufferings. As a good wife cultivates love for her husband so that every day augments the volume of her affection, so you are asked to foster and evince love for Christ. We have read in history how, when Edward I was wounded by a poisoned dagger, his wife Eleanor, from the deep love she bare her husband, sucked the poisoned wound, and so ventured her own life to save his. Such love you are asked to cultivate for Christ. If He be wounded by the poisonous tongues of the ungodly, by reproaches, blasphemies, and persecutions, do you learn to say, “Let the reproach of Christ fall upon me”--“Let me suffer rather than Jesus and His truth!” (J. H. Hitchens, D. D.)

That the Word of God be not blasphemed.

The highest motive to duty

Here the great law of the family is put on the highest Christian ground. If those who profess the gospel of Christ fail in any of these respects, it is more than possible that the blame will be thrown upon God’s Word (cf. 1 Timothy 6:1)

. If Christians profess to be influenced by a supernaturally strong and sacred motive, and then fail to do what lower and ordinary motives often succeed in effecting, the world charges the failure on the lofty motive itself, and Christ bears once again the sins of His people: He is crucified afresh and put to open shame. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Verse 6

Titus 2:6

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded

Sober mindedness


What it is.

1. You must be considerate and thoughtful, not rash and heedless. Take time to think; learn to think freely--to think for yourselves, of yourselves.

2. You must be cautious and prudent, not wilful and heady. Fix rules of wisdom. Use reason and conscience. Be diffident of your own judgment. Study Scripture.

3. You must be humble and modest, not proud and conceited. Be not above your business, above reproof, above religion.

4. You must be temperate and self-denying, not indulgent of your appetites.

5. You must be mild and gentle, not indulgent of your passions.

6. You must be chaste and reserved, not wanton or impure.

7. You must be staid and composed, not giddy and unsettled.

8. You must be content and easy, not ambitious and aspiring.

9. You must be grave and serious, not vain and frothy.

Considerations to enforce this exhortation.

1. You are reasonable creatures.

2. You are sinners before God.

3. You are setting out in a world of sorrows and snares.

4. Multitudes of the young are ruined for want of this sobriety of mind.

5. You are here upon trial for heaven.

6. You must shortly go to judgment.


1. Examine yourselves.

2. Exhort one another.

3. Contemplate the advantages of sober mindedness. You will

(1) Escape vanity of childhood and youth;

(2) Recommend yourselves to the favour of God and all wise men;

(3) Prepare for a useful and comfortable life, and a happy death.

4. Directions to make you sober minded.

(1) Espouse sober principles.

(2) Meditate on serious things.

(3) Choose sober companions.

(4) Read sober books.

(5) Abound in sober work. (Matthew Henry, D. D.)

Sober mindedness

The spirit and conduct to which this exhortation is opposed. Sober mindedness, if we are to take the primary meaning of the word, is to be “safe” or “sound minded.” But perhaps the best English equivalent for the word would be “discreet” or “self-restrained.” We have to restrain and keep ourselves in check as much as needful; and yet, at the same time, to cultivate such habits of thought that much check will not be required.

1. This exhortation is opposed to undue self-esteem (see Romans 11:20; Romans 12:3-6; Philippians 2:3). There ought to be a certain amount of self-esteem or self-respect. Where that is wholly wanting, there will be little or no force of character. Where there is no self-respect, one of the strongest arguments against evil will be lost. If we do not respect ourselves, we shall not act so as to gain the respect of others. But the excess of this self-respect is as injurious as its want; and it is to this excess that youth is naturally prone. When we enter upon life it is with an exalted idea of our own attainments and importance. We are soon led to smart in consequence of this; we soon find our own level. But O! how much pain, how much humiliation should we be spared, if we did but learn at the onset to esteem others better than ourselves! And O! young men, when we look into our own hearts, how much there is there to humble us.

2. This exhortation is opposed to all rash speculations upon spiritual things. The forms of pride are very various; but in whatever form pride presents itself, it is still an evil against which we should be on our guard. There are some forms of pride which are simply despicable and ridiculous. For instance, the pride of dress, the pride of personal appearance, the pride of life, or the pride of birth. But there is another form of pride which does not appear so offensive as these--I mean, the pride of intellect of those faculties which God has given us, by which we are distinguished above the lower orders of creation, and by which when cultivated we are raised in the social scale. But still, this form of pride, like every other form is inexcusable. Why should we boast of those faculties which have been given us by God, and of which at any moment He could deprive us? And if under no circumstances it is excusable, it is more especially offensive if it lead us to cavil at the statements of this holy book, respecting the character, and the will, and the dealings of the Most High.

3. This exhortation is opposed to all ambitious efforts to amass wealth, and to rise unduly in the social scale. Do not suppose that I would object to any amount of progress, either intellectually or socially. To the young I would say, Do all the good you can, get all the good you can, and enjoy to the utmost all those good things which God has placed within your reach. But, at the same time, remember this, that anything, however good it may be in itself, ceases to be good as soon as it is used in excess, or when it interferes with your highest interests. Now, keeping that statement in view, just consider the result of the ceaseless striving of men in the present day, not only to accumulate wealth, but to imitate the habits, the customs, and the dress of the station above them. Shun--shun as a plague all those books which would render you dissatisfied with the position in which God has placed you. Rest assured that that position is the best possible position for you. Remember that this is but the first stage of your existence. Learn to look upon this as a training school--as a state of discipline in which you must bear much that you do not like, in which you must do much that you would rather not do, but in daring to do which you will be enabled to conform to God’s will and to rise to a higher state of being.

4. This exhortation is opposed to all impatience and unwillingness to listen to the counsels and cautions of those who are older than ourselves. You know that one of our poets has observed:

“At thirty man suspects himself a fool

Knows it at forty--and reforms his plan.”

And oh! how much misery would be saved, if when we were young we were content to receive the experience of others, rather than gain that experience for ourselves by a very painful process.

Some considerations by which this exhortation can be enforced. Be sober minded, and this will elevate your character. “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Be sober minded, and this will greatly increase your influence for good here below. Be sober minded, and you will escape many a snare in which others have fallen, and been destroyed. There is a passage which I would commend to the attention of young men; describing the death bed of an ungodly youth--“Lest thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed”--the flesh of thy body consumed by indulgence in evil practices - “and thou say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despiseth reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me. I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly.” That is the result of the spirit and conduct opposed to sobriety of mind. Cultivate this in the last place, because it will prove that your religion is a reality, and not a name. (R. C. Pritchett.)

Sober mindedness as opposed to excitement

The word sober minded has many meanings, or at least many applications; but I think that we should approach most nearly to a comprehension of them all, if we explained it as the opposite of excitement, and regarded the charge in the text, to exhort young men to be sober minded, as practically equivalent to a charge to exhort them to avoid excitement.

1. There is the excitement of intemperance and of all approaches to it, of sensuality in all its forms; an excitement so strong, and for the moment so pleasurable, that he who has once yielded to it soon forms the habit of such indulgence, and he who has once formed the habit, almost always persists in it till his sin is his ruin; no persuasions and no convictions, no experience of misery and no resolutions of amendment, are of any avail; the man who has allowed the body to become his master is in this sense, as in all others, indeed a slave, that he cannot escape from his bondage, he must live on in it, and die in it too. The word intemperance may be too strong to express anything which you are at present in danger of, or anything indeed which the present fashions of society make perilous (speaking generally) for any one in your rank of life: but none the less would I caution you with the most anxious earnestness, against bodily excitement of a sinful kind: no change in national customs will ever make the body cease to be the chief enemy of the soul: other enemies come and go, temptations from companions, from occupations, from circumstances of life: this one alone is always with us, an enemy in the very camp, and able too to mask his assaults under the show of friendliness and good will.

2. As sinful excitement, so excessive excitement, even in forms not sinful, is here plainly forbidden. God has established a certain order and gradation amongst the parts of our nature. He bids us think of this intricate framework of human life as composed of three parts, which to our present comprehension we may best explain under the names of body, mind, and soul. Every one of these is most important: in each one a great work has to be done within a limited time: each one is destined to immortality, and has to be prepared for it by us. But, though each of these three parts is valuable, each immortal, each worthy of thought and care and culture, each the object (for our sakes) of God’s special regard; yet they are not equally valuable: the soul stands first, far first, in this respect: that part of us which is capable of knowing and loving God, of resembling Him, of being His own dwelling place, ought always to be the first also in our own regard: we ought to think far more seriously of its hunger, or its disease, than we all do of that of the body: we ought to be far more vexed when our soul loses one of its meals, which are opportunities of prayer, public and private, opportunities of reading or hearing God’s Word, or of joining in the Holy Communion, than when we are debarred by accident or want of appetite from a bodily meal: all these things are necessary consequences of the most elementary faith in God, and Christ, and eternity. Next to it comes the mind; that part of man which understands and judges, thinks and knows; that part which has to be stored and practised in youth, for the service of God and our generation in mature life. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. Bid them, if you be a faithful minister of Christ, bid them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, but with all earnestness of entreaty that they will listen, to think first of their souls, and next of their minds, and last of that which is bodily: tell them that, though God wills that their bodies should be active, hardy, and skilful, He does not will that every other part of them should be backward, awkward and stunted; that, because He loves them, because He desires their happiness, because He desires to bless them and to do them good, because He would have them with Him hereafter, and in order to do this must first fit them for His presence, therefore He exhorts them to be not excited but sober minded in things which are transitory and temporal; bids them set Him before them even in their amusements; bids them ask His blessing every day, as before they work, so also before they play; bids them accept their bodily pleasures, like all other, from Him, remember Him in them, moderate them for His sake, and above all use for His glory alone, in self-control, in temperance, in purity, those bodies upon which they bestow so much labour.

3. To be sober minded is, in other words, to have a sound mind; a mind neither trifling, nor giddy, nor inconstant, nor morbid; a mind just in its views, wise in its aims, moderate in its expectations, inflexible in its principles, authoritative in its self-control, right with God. It implies that we have a just view of life; that we not only profess but feel its true object, as a preparation for eternity, as an opportunity of doing the will of God and promoting His purposes towards us and towards all men. It implies that we neither expect to be able, nor feel it to be desirable, in all things to please ourselves, or to have our own way. It implies that we are thankful for whatever God gives, and patient under His withholding, controlling and even chastening hand. That we are willing to be what He would have us to be, even when our own inclination might point to a very different lot. All this it is, but more also. A sound mind, in the highest sense of the word, cannot be where the Holy Spirit is not; where God Himself is not present in the soul, through Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, as the Guide and Lord and Comforter, wisdom and quietness and strength, the life of our life and the hope of glory. Little can they who have not this be depended upon: natural cleverness and good sense may do much for us; it may cover up many faults, it may enable us to originate many good counsels; but it breaks down in the time of trial, when it is most of all important to be right, most of all fatal to be wrong. A sound mind, a sober mind, in the true sense, can only be where the soul of man has been changed (to use the Scriptural figure) into the spirit of man by the indwelling of the holy and blessed Spirit of God. (Dean Vaughan.)

Sober mindedness

To be sober minded is to be

1. Thoughtful and considerate, in opposition to giddiness and levity of disposition.

2. Humble and diffident in opposition to an assuming and self-sufficient spirit.

3. Temperate and self-denied, in opposition to the unrestrained indulgence of the passions.

4. To give an habitual preference to eternal over temporal things.

5. That we never put off to a future period that which ought to be done now.

Reasons for urging to sober mindedness.

1. You are reasonable creatures, and it is the office of reason to govern the passions, etc.

2. You are guilty creatures, but the means of salvation are placed within your reach.

3. You are dying and accountable creatures, but the means of eternal happiness are enjoyed only in this world. (W. Peddle.)

Exhortation to young persons

As for the reasons why sobriety of mind should in particular be recommended to youth, among others, we may assign these which follow.

1. It will be acknowledged that it is impossible for a person, with any constant tenor, to act well that does not think wisely, or to think wisely that does not think soberly. But what is of constant necessity in every stage of life must be of special importance in that upon which the rest depend; and, by consequence, he that sets out with this advantage, is in the most probable method to go on and prosper.

2. The morning of our life, our early and flourishing years, ought especially to be armed with this precaution, because it is then we are exposed to the greatest dangers; when the passions are the strongest, and so the most apt to transport us with their violence; when the pleasures and entertainments of sense have their full taste and relish, and are therefore the more capable of betraying us into excess; when we are the most easy, credulous, and complying, and so the most open to the attempts of others, the likeliest to be insalted and overborne by the confident, or ensnared by the designing, or perverted by those that go astray. Wherefore, experience coming so late should, if possible, be supplied by more early consideration, and reason should invite us before affliction constrains us to be serious.

3. As most ornaments, whether of mind or body, sit best upon the young, flourish in the spring of life, and look with peculiar gracefulness in the bloom and beauty of Nature, so this excellent temper of which we speak, which is the chief attire of the soul, and to which most other good qualities that it can put on are but appendages, is then in the exactest manner fit and becoming; and if it be real and not counterfeit, natural and not affected, easy and not precise, it has indeed the finest lustre, and renders those who wear it the most amiable and charming.

4. As youth has many natural gifts and endowments that speak in its behalf, and entitle it to favour, so it has one natural disadvantage, in respect of time, which it would be glad, if possible, to balance or compensate. In this regard it has been excellently well observed of birth or quality, that it gives a person at eighteen or twenty the same esteem and deference which another of inferior rank acquires at fifty; so that the former has thirty years gained at once. Now, the privilege which custom and civility allow to the noble, reason and justice demand, and generally obtain, for the sober and discreet; and they are the happiest who possess it by a double title.

This may the better suffice as to the offering some reasons why sobriety of mind should particularly be recommended to youth; since, by representing the benefits and advantages it then specially affords, we are to show the effect of those reasons, and of that particular application.

1. Sobriety of mind confirms and settles the principles of religion. Great has been the happiness of your birth, and the advantage of your education, but that either of these should be lasting and effectual depends upon yourselves. What admonitions and advices you have heard, what cautions you have received from parents or friends, books or conversation, are a ready stock committed to your management and improvement: a treasure in which you cannot make too much haste to be rich, an inheritance which indeed renders them the happiest to whom it comes the soonest. You are left to make your first steps in the world, which being so rough and uneven ground, and so plentiful in occasions of falling, it imports you the more to have regard to Solomon’s rule (Proverbs 4:15-16). To which you will give me leave to add that great and excellent lesson which he received from his father, and which some of you, I presume, have received from yours (1 Chronicles 23:9).

2. As sobriety of mind has such a power in keeping the principles of religion firm and stable, it has no less in rendering the practice of religion easy. We say all things are easy to a willing mind; but a sober mind is as willing as it is wise. For that which brings in most of the difficulties of a good life is our too late consideration, when having gone so far without thought, we cannot retire without pain.

3. It is a strong defence against temptations. “I have written to you young men because ye are strong,” says St. John; “Or what imports the same,” says an eloquent divine, “because you are vigorous; that is, you are now in such a state of body and soul and affections as is most subservient to piety--most quick and governable, and most successfully applied to the offices of duty. Govern, therefore, your appetites before the evil days come. Now you may gird them, and carry them whither you will, but if you neglect the season, they will hereafter gird you, and carry you whither you would not.”

4. It affords the greater opportunities of eminent piety and virtue. For he that is thus armed is, we see, the fittest and most expedite not for defence only but for action; so that when occasions present themselves, he is ready to meet them with delight, and improve them to advantage. (B. Kennet, D. D.)

Sobriety of mind urged on young men

The word in our text, strictly translated, means “sound minded,” or healthy minded, and implies the conviction that there is a certain standard of character, or condition of the mind which bears an analogy to health of body, a condition in which all the functions of the mind are in their right state, in which sound or healthy views of things are taken, in which no part of human nature is either inoperative or unduly developed. In this large sense, soundness of mind may serve as a description of the harmony or regular action implied in virtue; but inasmuch as the passions and desires, excited by objects which have strong influence over us in our present state of being, more than anything else destroy sanity of mind, the term is usually confined to the control over worldly desires, and to views of life which commend themselves to right reason. Thus, soundness of mind includes self-restraint and temperance, the former of which is the power of governing the passions, and the other the habit of using all pleasures without going to excess. But soundness or sobriety of mind is more radical than either of these, for it includes those just views of life, that appreciation of the value of enjoyment and of the world compared with duty and the higher life of the soul, without the sway of which in the soul it can neither exercise continence, nor self-control, nor temperance. Soundness or sobriety of mind, also, is far from stopping at the boundaries of the passions, especially the sensual; all the desires, even those which have little to do with the body, as the desire of fame, of power, of superiority, and the desire of wealth--the means of gratifying all other desires--are placed under its control.

As thus understood, sobriety of mind is to be distinguished from. A native sluggishness or cautiousness which may conspire with it to prevent excess. If a man, for instance, can never become angry, he may be saved from many foolish and sinful acts, but it is many times better to have a power of subduing anger, which you have acquired by exertions which have cost you something, than to be a stone. Moreover, if such native sobriety of mind exists, it is rare. There is generally some weak spot, where passion can with success approach men who seem like icicles. What class of persons is more thoroughly worldly than many who are proof against the allurements of vice, but speculate with the gambler’s intense excitement, or burn with a devouring lust for power. Perhaps the greatest insobriety of mind belongs to those who, in most respects, have an entire mastery over themselves--who view the world on many of its sides as it is, but concentrate all their forces on one object, with an untiring restless fever of soul which the votary of pleasure seldom knows.

The apostle’s sober mindedness is not to be confounded with that self control which springs from worldly prudence and shrewd calculations of success in life. There are men who live exclusively for earthly enjoyment, who yet have attained to a mastery over their own lusts. They know what the laws of health will allow, what the body will bear, how far they may go in pleasure consistently with prudence and economy, what degree of restraint is demanded to preserve their reputation. They will, therefore, keep themselves sober while their less discreet, and perhaps less corrupt, companions are intoxicated at their side; they live a long healthy life, while others die of the effects of vicious indulgence, and retain their good name while others ruin themselves in the opinion of society. Verily, they have their reward; but their sober mindedness is certainly no such virtue that even a philosopher could commend it.

Sobriety of mind, being something more than a temperament averse to excess, something more than self-control on selfish principles may be looked at as a philosophical, or as a Christian virtue. In both cases, it is a subordination of the desires and passions to the higher principles of the soul; in both, it is a spontaneous self-government according to the rules of right living, not according to calculations of temporal advancement. When we speak of Christian sobriety of mind, we mean nothing generically different from the notion which philosophy had already formed. But we mean sobriety of mind sustained by Christian principles, enforced by Christian motives, and dwelling amid other manifestations of a Christian or purified character. Let us consider it when thus broadly understood, in some of its most prominent characteristics.

1. It involves an estimate of earthly pleasure and good formed under the power of faith. With Christ’s advent into the world, a new idea of life began, and the victory of the spirit over the flesh is rendered possible.

2. But it is not enough to have a standard of character; the young man, if he would be sober minded, must have rules of living calculated beforehand to resist the allurements of the world when they arise It is the part of Christian ethics to make known what rules are needed for our moral guidance, and to enforce them by the appropriate motives. In this place, no such thing can be attempted, and yet I cannot pass on without calling your attention to one or two parts of conduct, where it is peculiarly important to have well settled principles of action.

(1) In regard to the bodily appetites, Christian sobriety begins to be lost as soon as they are made ends in themselves, without regard to something higher.

(2) In regard to amusements and diversions, sobriety consists in keeping them in their place, as recreations after bodily and mental toil. They must not then usurp the rights of labour, unless we are resolved to destroy the earnestness and seriousness of character, which grows out of a conviction that life is full of meaning.

3. Need I add that rules must be followed by a settled purpose, by a resolution formed in the view of spiritual and divine truth to adopt such a course of life as sobriety of mind requires. (T. D. Woolsey.)

Exhortation to sober mindedness

The necessity of this exhortation. This arises from

1. The ignorance and inexperience of youth.

2. Those constitutional inclinations which predominate in some more than in others.

3. The temptations by which youth is surrounded.

4. The vast importance of commencing well a course of life.

The character of that sober mindedness which the text recommends.

1. Its basis. Reverence for God, contrition for sin, etc.

2. Its contrasts. Pride, rashness, obstinacy, petulance, sullenness, presumption, etc.

3. Its objects. It should make you moderate in all things, etc.

The advantages which result from the possession and display of this sober mindedness.

1. It will qualify you for your relations to society.

2. It will greatly contribute to your usefulness wherever you are placed.

3. It will greatly increase your comfort. (J. Clayton.)

Discretion the safeguard of youth

This concise statement as to the exhortation to be addressed to young men may be regarded as a summary of all youthful virtues. The sins and follies of youth largely arise from want of thought. This fact, while it is no excuse for the sins committed, is an indication of the remedy to be sought. Let youths be trained to cultivate discretion, and, humanly speaking, they will be kept safe from the follies so common to their age. In a sermon to young men, discretion may be commended thus:

As the cultivation of the mental and moral powers with which God has endowed them.

As the fulfilment of the destiny which they are to fulfil in life.

As the fitting preparation for a higher life hereafter. (F. Wagstaff.)

Sober-minded youth

Some characteristics of this sober mind.

1. A habit of moral thoughtfulness.

2. Practical prudence and circumspection.

3. A modest and humble deportment.

Some particulars in which this grace of character should be displayed.

1. In all your plans and schemes for worldly happiness.

2. In all parts of your social intercourse--dress, discourse, Choice of recreations, etc.

A valuable agency by which this sober mindedness may be promoted. (D. Moore, M. A.)

On sober mindedness

What is it that may properly be called “sober mindedness”? This is to ask, in other words, What is it that we are all charging the want of upon our fellow mortals, while we are all, on all hands, censuring, reproaching, or ridiculing them, for folly, absurdity, extravagance, for running into all extremes, for being the sport of fancies, tempers, and passions? Plainly, the effectual predominance of sound reason. That then is the general description of sober mindedness--that there be in habitual exercise a just judgment of things, and that this judgment be in real effective authority. But a little more particularly. There cannot be the required state of mind, unless there be some great master principles, decidedly fixed in the very habit of thinking and feeling--principles applicable to almost all things in our interests and practice--principles so general that many special ones will grow out of them for particular application. One is--that in all things and at all events, God is to be obeyed. Another--that there is the essential distinction of holiness and sin in all conduct, both within the mind, and in external action, and that sin is absolutely a dreadful evil. Another--that that cannot be right long in which there is no self-denial. Another--that must not be done which must be repented of. Another--the future should predominate over the present. Such things, we said, must be established firmly and operatively in the mind. But then how can this be without much and frequent exercise of serious thought? Do such principles grow and establish themselves spontaneously? Alas! let any young person look into his own mind and see Without much of serious thought, therefore, there cannot be “sober mindedness.” And therefore, again, there cannot be this required state of mind, if principles are admitted, or practical determinations adopted, from mere impressions of fancy and feeling; perhaps from some casual situation into which a person is thrown; perhaps from the pleasing impression made by some new acquaintance, or a friend, while no account is taken of the whole comprehensive view of the matter; nay, perhaps, the judgment actually withheld from attempting this. Again, no principles can suffice for the true “sober mindedness” in young persons or any others, unless as consciously held as under the sanction and as having the authority of the Supreme Power. For the term must imply a steady tenor of feeling and proceeding, not fluctuating, confused, alternating. And it implies a calm independence of spirit and conduct, not at the mercy of the winds and circumstances--the opinions and wills--of the surrounding world; which holds one certain plan and aim, right onward through all the causes of interference and perversion. But how can this be but by the vital connection of our governing principles with the unchangeable Spirit? Again, there cannot be a high degree of that well-ordered state, “sober mindedness,” without the person’s forming a sound judgment of his own mind. If there be an insensibility to the general corruption of the soul, throughout its very nature, how little to the purpose will any scheme of self-government be! And then there are the special and peculiar circumstances and tendencies; the particular weaknesses or wrong propensities; the liability to some one evil in a strong and dangerous degree. Without an attentive and deep cognizance of things so important, the person enjoined to maintain sober mindedness will not at all know what he has to do; not know against what he has to maintain it. We may add a most self-evident thing; that it is of the essence of sober mindedness to maintain a systematic strong restraint on the passions, fancy, temper, appetites. And this was probably the most direct object of the apostle’s exhortation to young men. In these respects, it is the very first point of sober mindedness for youth to be aware how perilous their condition is. Let young persons observe what is actually becoming of those who surrender themselves to their passions and wild propensities. What numbers! Then, in themselves, observe seriously whither these inward traitors and tempters really tend; and then think whether soberness of mind be not a pearl of great price; and whether there can be any such thing without a systematic self-government. Young persons of any hopefulness will often have serious thoughts about what is to be the main grand purpose of their life. Immense interests are exhibited before them, as immortal natures. It is for them to consider, whether they will be consigned down just merely to this, to be gay and joyous creatures for a few years, and busy ones the rest? Or, whether they shall early in life have a greater purpose and concern, rising above the world, and extending beyond time. Now here is to be the application of those principles we were endeavouring to illustrate; and without them we have ample and deplorable manifestation what the notion and purpose of life in young persons will be. But again, this sober mindedness is quite necessary for the subordinate schemes and pursuits of life. In the want of it, a young person may form schemes ill adapted to his character, his qualifications, and abilities--or his circumstances. For want of it, many have rushed into wild ill-concerted projects, which have ended disastrously, or frustrated the most laudable designs. Companionship and friendly connections are among the most favourite interests of young persons. Sober mindedness is eminently important here. This would keep them clearly aware that the mere pleasure of friendly association is a trifle as compared with the influence and effect. Soberness of mind, again, would be of high value to young people, as to the terms on which they shall stand with what is called the world. This is the denomination for a sort of system of maxims, customs, modes, and fashions. And it takes upon itself a high and tyrannic authority, if we may judge from the number of submissive slaves. The firmly sober minded young person would, in numerous instances and considerable degrees, set at nought the prescriptions of the despot; would act just as he thought proper; and would have his reason to assign; “I really have something else to do with my time and thoughts, than to study and follow your caprices, modes, and vanities.” So much for the situation of young persons in the world; it is almost too obvious to be added that for what concerns their preparation to go out of it, there is the utmost necessity for everything implied in sober mindedness. We conclude with a consideration or two for the enforcement of the exhortation. And let it not be forgotten that youth will soon be passed away. In the case of not a few young persons, their youth is appointed to be the whole of their life. Now supposing that in any particular instance this were certain and known: in that instance, all opinions would agree as to the propriety and necessity of sober mindedness: yes, the vainest, the giddiest, unless totally ignorant or unbelieving of the hereafter, say, “Yes, certainly he or she should be sober minded.” But now judge soberly whether the propriety is reversed by the circumstance of uncertainty; that a young person may only have his youth for the whole of his life. When this may be the case, were it not infatuation to live as if it most certainly would not? But assuming that life will be prolonged into the more advanced stages, consider that then a great change of feeling from that of youth will certainly take place. Experience, disappointment, difficulty, will have begun their process. Now consider; is it not a most ungracious thing that the altered state of feeling in more advanced life should come just wholly as disappointment, as mortifying experience, as sober sense forced upon reluctant folly? Whereas, sober mindedness in youth might have anticipated a great deal; might, through wisdom, have made the change much more smooth; might have caused it to be much less, and less mortifying, and made it less reproachful in reflection on the sanguine delusion of early life. We would enforce one more consideration; namely, that things will have their consequences. If there be a vain, giddy, thoughtless, ill-improved youth, the effects of it will infallibly come in after life. If there be a neglected understanding, a conscience feebly and rudely constituted, good principles but slightly fixed or even apprehended, a habitual levity of spirit, a chase of frivolities, a surrender to the passions; the natural consequences of these will follow. And what will they be when a man is advanced into the field of important and difficult duties? when he shall himself be required to be a counsellor of youth? when he shall be put upon strong trials of both his judgment and conscience; when he shall have to sustain afflictions; when advancing age shall force him to see that he shall ere long have to leave life itself behind? We add but one consideration more, which we could wish to press on young minds with peculiar force. They love cheerfulness, spiritedness, vivacity; and they are right. But then! on the supposition of life being prolonged, would they be content to expend away the greatest portion of this animation in the beginning of life? Would they drink out the precious wine of life in the morning, and leave but the dregs for the evening of life’s day? If there be any possible way of throwing a large portion of this vital element, this animation, into the latter, the latest part of life, were not that the highest wisdom? (J. Foster.)

Hints to young men

1. Young men must take notice of that great bundle of folly which is naturally bound up in their hearts, the corruption of that age being such as needeth not any occasion without itself to cast it down.

2. That the means to redress it is the study of the Scriptures, unto the rules whereof they must have regard, and not to the example of men.

3. That if they will needs be given to imitation, then must they imitate not the most, but the best of that age; such as was young Daniel, who in tender years was able to utter knowledge (Daniel 1:4); young Samuel, who so soon as he is weaned, must stand before the Lord (1 Samuel 1:1-28); young Josiah, who at eight years old walked uprightly (2 Kings 2:1-25); young Timothy, who knew the Scriptures of a child; yea, of Christ Himself, who increased in wisdom as in stature, so as at twelve years old He was able to confound the doctors and great rabbis of the Jews.

4. That against all the discouragements they shall meet withal from men, as that they are too forward, soon ripe, and young saints, etc., they must oppose the Lord’s good pleasure, who requireth firstlings, first fruits, firstborn of man and beast; the first month, yea, the first day of that month, for the celebrating of the passover; and delighteth in whole and fat offerings, not in the lame, lean, and blind sacrifices which His soul abhorreth:. for of all the sons of men, the Lord never took such pleasure as in such who were sanctified even from the womb. Some of the learned call men to the timely service of God, from the allusion of Moses’s rod (Exodus 3:1-22), and Isaiah’s vision (chap. 9), both of the almond tree, because of all trees that soonest putteth forth her blossoms. How sound that collection is, I will not stand to inquire; only this is true, that such as would be trees of righteousness, and known to be of the Lord’s planting, laden (especially in their age) with the fruits of the Spirit, must with the almond tree timely bud, and blossom, and bear, that their whole lives may be a fruitful course, whereby God may be glorified, and themselves receive in the end a more full consolation. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Our young men

“Tell me,” said Edmund Burke, “what are the prevailing sentiments that occupy the minds of your young men, and I will tell you what is to be the character of the next generation.” This is but an echo of the epigrams of the ancients. The modern statesman but repeats the wisdom of the past. The dominant power of the young men of a nation has been recognised in all ages. It was because he taught her young men, that Socrates was feared at Athens. Standing in the market place, visiting the gymnasia, or speaking from the porticoes, he wielded a power that senators viewed alike with envy and with dread. When Wesley was desired to leave Oxford to take a local parish, he refused, because, he said, the schools of the prophets were there, and he felt that in forming the sentiments of young men he was doing a greater work for the next generation than he could possibly do in any other locality.

Rules for young men

The Hon. Stephen Allen, who had been Mayor of New York, was drowned from on board the Henry Clay. In the pocket book was found a printed slip, apparently cut from a newspaper, a copy of which we give below. It is worthy to be engraven on the heart of every young man:--“Keep good company, or none. Never be idle. If your hands can’t be usefully employed, attend to the cultivation of your mind. Always speak the truth. Make few promises. Live up to your engagements. Keep your own secrets if you have any. When you speak to a person look him in the face. Good company and good conversation are the very sinews of virtue. Good character is above all things else. Your character cannot be essentially injured except by your own acts. If any one speaks evil of you let your life be so that none will believe him. Drink no kind of intoxicating liquors. Ever live (misfortune excepted) within your income. When you retire to bed, think over what you have been doing during the day. Make no haste to be rich if you would prosper. Small and steady gains give competency with a tranquil mind. Never play at any game of chance. Avoid temptation, through fear you may not withstand it. Earn money before you spend it. Never run into debt unless you see a way to get out again. Never borrow if you can possibly avoid it. Do not marry until you are able to support a wife. Never speak evil of any one. Be just before you are generous. Keep yourself innocent if you would be happy. Save when you are young, to spend when you are old. Read over the above maxims at least once a week.”


“In the supremacy of self-control,” says Herbert Spencer, “consists one of the perfections of the ideal man. Not to be impulsive, not to be spurred hither and thither by each desire that in turn comes uppermost; but to be self-restrained, self-balanced, governed by the joint decision of all the feelings in council assembled, before whom every action shall have been fully debated and calmly determined--that it is which education, moral education at least, strives to produce.” This is the one determining quality on which success or failure in after life most depends. Failing here, your failure is absolute and irremediable. Success here is success assured hence forward. Here are two youths--the one college bred, but without self-government; the other was never in a college, but knows and possesses the power of self-control. For all worthy work in life the latter is immeasurably superior; he will make a better banker, manufacturer, legislator, general. Knowledge of Greek and mathematics and Latin is valuable, but placed in the balance against self-control, it has not the weight of a feather or the worth of a farthing. But true education embraces self-control, and, with other acquisitions, gives the scholar great advantage. Mr. Pitt was once asked what quality was most essential for a Prime Minister. One of the party said, “Eloquence”; another, “Knowledge”; another, “Toil.” “No,” said Pitt, “it is Patience,” and patience with him had its real meaning of self-control. In this quality he himself excelled. There is an instructive monument to this great statesman in Westminster Abbey. Pitt stands erect with extended hand; another figure represents Anarchy writhing in chains at his feet, while a calm-brewed figure representing History is writing down the record of his victorious achievements for posterity to read. There is pressing need for other Pitts to conquer self, and then conquer their fellows in this disordered world. Anarchy and wrong yet ravage the land. They need strong, self-conquered men to put them in chains. And be assured, impartial history waits to immortalise the name of the great moral heroes of today.

Verses 7-8

Titus 2:7-8

In all things showing thyself a pattern

A good example

Having propounded the several precepts fitted to all ages of men and women, the last whereof was unto young men, our apostle here inserteth a precept unto Titus himself, whence it is probably gathered that Titus was now a young man, as Timothy also was, in the same office of an evangelist; and being a minister, in him he closely again instituteth every minister, notwithstanding he hath been most ample in that argument, as though ministers could never sufficiently be instructed.

In these two verses we will consider two things.

1. A precept.

2. An enforcement of it.

The precept is, That Titus show himself an example to others. For as all the persons formerly taught, so more especially the last sort, namely, young men, for the slipperiness of their age need the benefit of good example as well as good doctrines and counsel. And this exhortation is enlarged by setting down wherein Titus must become an example, which is done, first, more generally, “in all things,” we read it, “above all things”; others, “above all men,” which readings may be true, and grounds of good instruction, but I take the first aptest to the place. Secondly, by a more particular enumeration of shining virtues, as

1. Uncorrupt doctrine.

2. Good life fruitful in good works; and these not one or two, or now and then in good moods, but there must be a constant trading in them throughout a grave and pare conversation.

3. There must be joined gracious speeches and words, for I take it fitliest interpreted of private communication, described by two necessary adjuncts.

1. It must be wholesome.

2. Unblameable, or not liable to reproof.

The enforcement of the precept is taken from the end or fruit of it, which is twofold.

1. Shame.

2. Silence to the withstanders and opposers.

And thus the general scope of the verses is as if he had more largely said, “That this thy doctrine, O Titus, thus aptly applied to all sorts of men, may carry more weight and authority with it, see thou that (considering thou art set in a more eminent place, and clearer sun, and hast all eyes beholding and prying into thee) thou show thyself a pattern and express type wherein men may behold all these graces shining in thy own life: let them look in thy glass, and see the lively image of a grave and pure conversation, which may allure them to the love of the doctrine which thou teachest: let them hear from thy mouth in thy private conferences and speech nothing but what may work them to soundness; at the least, keep thou such a watch over thy tongue, as that nothing pass thee which may be reprehended, and hence will it come to pass that although thou hast many maliciously minded men, seeking by all means to oppose thy doctrine and life, and to destroy the one by the other, these shall either be put to silence and have nothing to say, or if they take boldness to speak anything, it being unjust, the shame shall be removed from thee and fall justly upon themselves; and all the reproach shall return home to their own doors.” (T. Taylor, D. D.)

That he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed


It is the lot of faithful ministers to have opposites and adversaries: yea, such as are just contrary and directly opposite, for so the word is used (Mark 15:39). The case is clearer than needeth proof. How the prophets were entertained our Saviour showeth by that speech to the Jews, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted and slain?” Moses was often resisted by the people, and before he shall go scot free, his own brother and sister shall withstand him; and as he was resisted by Jannes and Jambres, so in all ages to the end men of corrupt minds shall start up to resist the truth. That the disciples and apostles, notwithstanding their apostolical rod and power, were resisted, appeareth by Alexander the coppersmith, who was a sore enemy to Paul’s preaching; and Elimas, who was full of subtlety to pervert the truth, and strongly withstood the apostles. How was Christ Himself, the chief Doctor, withstood by the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, rulers, and people, that He had never come into the world if He had not made His reckoning to give His back to the smiters, His face to shame and spitting, yea, Himself to the shameful and accursed death of the cross. If it was thus to the green tree, we shall need seek no further what was done to the dry, but rather to inquire into the reason hereof, and that is this: So long as there is a devil, darkness, and death in men’s souls, so long will there be resistance unto God, His light, and life, in whomsoever it is; the devil not only suggesting, but working effectually in the hearts of reprobates, and natural men, to withstand God’s work, as Sanballat and Tobiah used all means to hinder the building of Jerusalem. And so do his instruments, the spirits of devils, go about the world to provoke men unto war against Christ and His little flock. Those spirits of devils are graceless and wicked men, carried by devilish motion and violence against Christ and His kingdom, and the battle between Michael and his angels, and the devil and his angels, shall not cease till time be no more.

These that oppose themselves to good ministers and men are ever speaking evil, and opening their mouths with reproaches against them and their Godly courses. Moses was charged, and that not in corners, but to his face, that he took too much upon him, whereas he was unwilling to undertake all that the Lord laid upon him. It went current in court and country that Elias troubled all Israel. Amaziah accuseth Amos to the king, that the land is not able to bear all his words. Diotrephes not only withstood the apostle John, but prattled against him. But what is the reason of all this, have they any cause given them? The reason is partly positive in themselves, and partly negative in the other.

1. In themselves.

(1) The malice of their heart is such as cannot but continually out of the abundance thereof set their tongues at work: the fire within sendeth out such smoke abroad.

(2) With this malice is joined exceeding pride and swelling, which moveth them to seek the raising of themselves, although with the fall of others, and make the reproach of others as a ladder for themselves to climb by.

(3) With this malice and pride is joined exceeding subtlety and policy in their generation. Well know they that they have gotten ever more conquests by the strokes of their tongues than of their hands, and seldom have they failed of their purposes.

2. Now the negative reason in good men themselves, why their withstanders speak evil of them, is set down (1 Peter 4:4).

Every Godly man’s endeavour must be to stop the mouths of such adversaries, and so make them ashamed. But it is an impossible thing they will have always something to say. Yet so live thou as thou mayst boldly appeal unto God. Let thine own conscience be able to answer for thy uprightness, and so thou openest not their mouths; if now they open them against thee, it is their sin and not thine, and thus this precept is expounded (1 Timothy 5:14). Give no occasion to the adversaries to speak evil. And is enforced with special reason (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15). This is the will of God, by well doing to silence the ignorance of foolish men. If any shall say, “Why I care not what they say on me, they are dogs and wicked men,” and what are we to regard them? The apostle telleth us that yet for God’s commandment sake we must not open their mouths, but perform all duties of piety and humanity unto them.

2. Because they watch occasions to traduce, we must watch to cut off such occasions (Luke 6:7). The Scribes and Pharisees watched Christ whether He would heal on the Sabbath, to find an accusation against Him. Christ did the good work, but by His question to them cut off so far as be could the matter of their malice; by clearing the lawfulness of it. So out of their malice we shall draw our own good, and thus it shall be true which the heathen said, that the enemy often hurteth less and profiteth more than many friends.

3. What a glory is it for a Christian thus to slaughter envy itself? To keep shut that mouth that would fain open itself against him? To make him be clothed with his own shame, who sought to bring shame upon him and his profession? When a wretch cannot so put off his forehead as to accuse him whom he abhorreth, no more than he can the sun of darkness when it shineth; yea, when the Prince of the world cometh to sift such a member of Christ, yet He findeth nothing justly to upbraid him withal. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A scoffer silenced

I remember a story connected with my native place. One of the most saintly of men lived there, Dr. Andrew Symington, a Cameronian minister, Professor of Theology to the Reformed Presbyterian body who represented the old Scottish Covenanters. He was one day walking down the streets of Paisley, and when he came to the Cross there was a knot of men lounging there, among whom was a sort of ruling spirit, a man who liked to scoff at spiritual matters, and at people who lived a spiritual life. Dr. Symington was passing through the group, with his grave, tender look, and as he passed by the crowd, with the scoffing man in their midst, an awe and silence came upon them. He went on; and the man who scoffed just looked after him and whispered, “Enoch walked with God!” What a sermon to preach! and yet the good man never knew it! (Prof. Graham.)

A consistent Christian

A friend told me of a young man who was a true soldier of the Cross, and suffered much in consequence, not only from his companions, but from his own father, who was overseer in the same works. That young man showed forth Christ in all his actions, even when his companions who worked with him were unusually provoking in tormenting him about his religion, and, I am ashamed to say, were often encouraged in their wickedness by his own father. One morning, after enduring their cruel and insulting words for some time, he turned to them with a calm look and said: “Friends, tell me, is there anything in my life that is not consistent in a Christian? If there is, tell it to me, and I will kneel in your presence and ask God to forgive me.” Complete silence fell on the men, not one dared to open his mouth as that, young man stood there and challenged them to find anything against him. (Major Mathers.)

Verses 9-10

Titus 2:9-10

Exhort servants to be obedient

The duties of servants


Those duties enumerated.

1. Obedience.

2. Acceptableness of service. The idea is really, approbation based upon virtuous actions.

3. Respectfulness of manner.

4. Honesty.

5. Fidelity.

Motives of duty. That the religion of Christ might be honoured in the consistency of its professors. (F. Wagstaff.)

Duties of servants

The first and proper duty of every servant is subjection, or a stooping under the authority of his master. This consists

1. In an inward reverencing in heart the image of God in His superiority. This reverent subjection of the heart the Lord in His own example requireth in all His servants, “If I be a master, where is My fear?” (Malachi 1:6), and is the first duty of that commandment, “Honour thy father and mother.” The apostle (Ephesians 6:5) calleth for fear and trembling from servants toward their masters.

2. In the outward testimony of this inward reverence, both in speech and gesture before his master, and behind his back; but especially in the free obedience of all his lawful, yea, and unequal commandments, so as they be not unlawful (Colossians 3:22).

3. In patient enduring without resistance, rebukes and corrections, although bitter, yea, and unjust (1 Peter 2:18-19).

The second virtue required of servants towards their masters is, that they please them in all things. How will this precept stand with that in Ephesians 6:6, where servants are forbidden to be men pleasers? To serve only as men pleasers, as having the eye cast only on man is hypocrisy, and the sin of many servants, pleasing man for man’s sake, and that is condemned by our apostle; but to please men in God and for God is a duty in servants next unto the first; who, to show themselves well pleasing to their masters, must carry in their hearts and endeavour a care to be accepted of them, even in the things which, for the indignity and burdensomeness of them, are much against their own minds. For this is the privilege of a master to have his servant devoted unto his pleasure and will, for the attempting of any business, the continuance in it, and the unbending of him from it; and when the servant hath done all he can, it was but debt and duty, and no thanks are due to him from his master (Matthew 8:9). But wherein must I please my master or mistress? In all things, that is, in all outward things which are in different and lawful. I say in outward things, so Ephesians 6:5, servants obey your masters according to the flesh; wherein the apostle implieth two things.

1. That the masters are according and over the flesh and outward man; not over the spirit and inward man, over which we have all one Master in heaven.

2. That accordingly they are to obey in outward things, for if the dominion of the one be bounded so also must needs be the subjection of the other. Again, these outward things must be lawful or indifferent; for they must not obey against the Lord, but in the Lord.

Servants are in the third place prohibited crossly and stubbornly to reason, and dispute matters with their masters; but in silence and subjection to sit down with the worse, even when they suffer wrong; for as they are to carry a reverent esteem of them in their hearts so must they bewray reverence, love, and lowliness in all their words and gestures; neither are they here coped from all manner of speech, for when just occasion of speech is offered, as by questions asked, they must make respective answers and not in sullenness say nothing, for Solomon condemneth it as a vice and great sin in servants, when they understand, not to answer (Proverbs 29:19).

“Not purloining.” By the former, servants were taught to bridle their tongues; by this precept, their hands. The word properly noteth the setting somewhat apart to one’s private use, which is not his, and is used (Acts 5:6). Ananias kept away and craftily conveyed to his private use that which should have gone another way. So that servants are forbidden to pilfer the least part of their master’s goods to dispose to their own or other’s use without the acquaintance of their masters. And herein, under this principle, all manner of unfaithfulness is inclusively condemned, as the opposition in the next words showeth.

“But showing all good fidelity.”

1. In his master’s commands, readily and diligently to perform them of conscience, and not for eye service, but whether his master’s eye be upon him or no. Wherein Abraham’s servant giveth a notable precedent.

2. In his counsels and secrets, never disclosing any of his infirmities or weaknesses, but by all lawful and good means covering and biding them. Contrary hereunto is that wickedness of many servants, who may, indeed, rather be accounted so many spies in the house, whose common practice is, where they may be heard, to blaze abroad whatsoever may tend to their master or mistress’s reproach, having at once cast off both the religious fear of God, as also the reverent respect of God’s image in the persons of their superiors.

3. In his messages abroad, both in the speedy execution and dispatch of them, as also in his expenses about them; husbanding his master’s money, cutting off idle charges, and bringing home a just account; hereby acknowledging that the eye of his own conscience watcheth him when his master’s eye cannot.

4. Unto his master’s wife, children, servants, wisely with Joseph distinguishing the things which are committed unto him from them that are excepted.

5. Lastly, in all his actions and carriage, so also in every word, shunning all lying, dissembling, untruths, whether for his master’s, his own, or other men’s advantage; in the practice of which duties he becometh faithful in all his master’s house. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

“Not answering again”

A lady once, when she was a little girl, learned a good lesson, which she tells for the benefit of whom it may concern:--“One frosty morning I was looking out of the window into my father’s farmyard, where stood many cows, oxen, and horses, waiting to drink. It was a cold morning. The cattle all stood very still and meek, till one of the cows attempted to turn round. In making the attempt she happened to hit her next neighbour, whereupon the neighbour kicked and hit another. In five minutes the whole herd were kicking each other with fury. My mother laughed and said: ‘See what comes of kicking when you are hit. Just so, I have seen one cross word set a whole family by the ears on some frosty morning.’ Afterward, if my brothers or myself were a little irritable, she would say, ‘Take care, my children. Remember how the fight in the farmyard began. Never give back a kick for a hit, and you will save yourselves and others a great deal of trouble.’”

Not purloining

Honesty in little things

The nature of the sin against which the text warns us. Stealing is a term applicable to the conduct of a man who goes to the house, or the farm, or the shop of another, and takes away his goods or other property. We turn an act of theft into one of purloining when a servant helps himself, without an understood allowance from his master or mistress, to that which is under his care, or to which he has access; or when a workman pockets, for his own use, what he thinks he may bear away without detection; or when a labourer carries away from his master’s farm something to add to his own little stock, or to maintain his own family. To steal is to take what is not our own. To purloin is to take what is not our own too; but it is something we had in trust, or to which we had access. If purloining be practised on a large scale, it changes its name and becomes embezzlement.

The exceeding sinfulness of this sin. There are many excuses which are brought forward in extenuation of this offence.

1. The change of its name. There is a wonderful imposition in words; and many purloiners quiet their consciences by changing the name. Because it is not commonly called stealing, they think it does not involve the guilt of stealing.

2. Another plea is, that however great the amount may be in the course of months or years, you are pleased to make the depredations small in detail. It is a petty affair of every day, and so very little as not to be worth thinking about. It does not say, “Thou shalt not steal much!” but, “Thou shalt not steal!”

3. The next plea is, that the master is rich and will not miss it, and so it will do no harm. This law does not merely forbid them to steal from the poor, leaving them at liberty to steal from the rich.

The motives which enforce the opposite conduct. The servants whom Titus was to exhort were those of his own congregation. They formed a Christian community; and however the title may be applied now, it was then given to these who had renounced Paganism. The admonition was to men who had embraced not only the profession of faith, but the faith itself. It is right that, for every kind of unrighteousness, men should be reproved; for “the wrath of God is revealed,” etc. The more they are burdened with a sense of sin, the more will they feel the importance of repentance. (T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Fidelity in a servant

Selim, a poor Turk, had been brought up from his youth with care and kindness by his master, Mustapha. When the latter lay at the point of death, Selim was tempted by his fellow servants to join them in stealing a part of Mustapha’s treasures. “No,” said he, “Selim is no robber. I fear not to offend my master for the evil he can do me now, but for the good he has done me all my life long.”

That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour

Servants adorning the gospel

The doctrine of the gospel: the doctrine of the gospel is called the doctrine of Christ.

1. Because He is the argument and subject of it.

2. Because He is the first and chief messenger and publisher of it.

3. Whosoever have been the teachers and publishers of this doctrine from the beginning, either by word or writing (not excepting prophets or apostles themselves) or shall be unto the end. They all do it by commandment from Him, yea, Himself preacheth in them and in us.

4. As it proceedeth from Him so it tendeth wholly unto Him, and leadeth believers to see and partake both of His grace and glory shining in the same.

Christ is called God our Saviour.

1. To prove His own deity, not only in express terms being called God, but also by the epithet agreeing only to a Divine nature, our Saviour.

2. To imply our own misery, whose infinite wretchedness only God could remove, and whose infinite good none but God could restore.

3. And especially in regard of this doctrine.

(1) To confirm the divinity of the same, it being a doctrine of God and a doctrine of salvation proceeding from our Saviour.

(2) To enforce the duty towards it, namely, that seeing the author of it is God, the matter Divine, the effect salvation, meet it is that such a saving doctrine a doctrine of such tidings, should be beautified and adorned.

This doctrine is adorned when it is made beautiful and lovely unto men, and this by two things in the professors of it.

1. By an honest and unblamable conversation, for carnal men commonly esteem of the doctrine by the life, and the profession by the practice of the professor.

2. By God’s blessing which is promised and is attending such walking, whereby even strangers to the Church are forced to begin to like of the profession: for God’s blessing upon His people is not only profitable to themselves, but turneth to the salvation of many others. So we read that when Licinius was overcome by Constantine, and the persecutions ceased, which had almost for three hundred years together wasted the Church, how innumerable of them, who before had worshipped their idols, were contented to be received into the Church. On the contrary, the gospel is dishonoured when the Lord is forced to judge and correct the abuse of His name in the professors of it (Ezekiel 36:20).

Servants adorn the gospel, when professing it, they, by performing all faithful service to their masters in and for God, seek and obtain the blessing of God in the condition of life wherein He hath placed them. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

The duty of advancing the Christian religion

The explanation of the terms used.

1. By “the doctrine of God our Saviour” the apostle means the Christian religion, or that institution of faith and manners which Jesus taught and published when here on earth.

2. To “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” is to advance the credit and reputation of Christian religion in the world. It is so to govern and demean ourselves that we may reconcile its enemies to a good opinion of it; that we may procure and even force regard and veneration towards it.

3. By the “they” in the text, the persons upon whom this duty is incumbent, we may fairly understand the whole body of Christians.

The nature, acts, and exercises of duty. How a man may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour

1. As it is a rule of faith, or an institution of religion, which we believe and own as of Divine authority. By manifesting, beyond any reasonable exception, that we unfeignedly assent unto it, that we firmly believe it to be, what we pretend, of Divine original. And this will be evident to all

(1) If our faith be perfect and entire. If we receive our religion as it is in itself, in all its parts, in every article, and in their plainest sense.

(2) If we are steady, firm, and constant in the profession of it.

(3) If we express an affection, a prudent zeal in the profession of it.

2. As it is a rule of life and manners. To this purpose it is absolutely necessary

(1) That our obedience be entire and universal.

(2) That our obedience be free and cheerful,

(3) If in cases doubtful we determine our practice on the side of the law, and of our duty.

(4) By an eminent practice of some particular virtues, as of mercy and charity. Wherever these are expressed to the life--habitually, bountifully, freely--all that observe it will esteem the religion from whence such a spirit flows.

The reasons which oblige us, and the encouragements which may persuade us, to the practice of it.

1. To adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour by such a faith and practice as I have now described is the most infallible assurance, both to ourselves and others, that our principle is sincere and perfect.

2. To live such a life as shall cause our religion to be esteemed and honoured in the world, is the greatest blessing, as well to ourselves as to others, that we can either imagine or desire.

3. Another encouragement to such a profession and practice of our religion as shall adorn it are the particular promises which are made to those who shall attain unto it.

4. The particular peace and satisfaction which will arise from such a faith and life. (J. Lambe.)

Slaves adorning the doctrine of God

As the number of slaves in the first century was so enormous it was only in accordance with human probability that many of the first converts to Christianity belonged to this class; all the more so, as Christianity belonged to this class; all the more so, as Christianity, like most great movements, began with the lower orders and thence spread upwards. Among the better class of slaves, that is those who were not so degraded as to be insensible of their own degradation, the gospel spread freely. It offered them just what they needed, and the lack of which had turned their life into one great despair. It gave them something to hope for and live for. Their condition in the world was both socially and morally deplorable. Socially they had no rights beyond what their lord chose to allow them. And St. Chrysostom in commenting on this passage points out how inevitable it was that the moral character of slaves should as a rule be bad. They have no motive for trying to be good, and very little opportunity of learning what is right. Every one, slaves included, admits that as a race they are passionate, intractable, and indisposed to virtue, not because God has made them so, but from bad education and the neglect of their masters. And yet this is the class which St. Paul singles out as being able in a peculiar way to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” “To adorn the doctrine of God.” How is the doctrine of God to be adorned? And how are slaves capable of adorning it? “The doctrine of God” is that which He teaches, which He has revealed for our instruction. It is His revelation of Himself. He is the author of it, the giver of it, and the subject of it. He is also its end or purpose. It is granted in order that men may know Him, and love Him, and be brought home to Him. All these facts are a guarantee to us of its importance and its security. It comes from One who is infinitely great and infinitely true. And yet it is capable of being adorned by those to whom it is given. There is nothing paradoxical in this. It is precisely those things which in themselves are good and beautiful that we consider capable of adornment and worthy of it. Thus adornment is a form of homage: it is the tribute which the discerning pay to beauty. But adornment has its relations not only to those who bestow, but to those also who receive it. It is a reflection of the mind of the giver; but it has also an influence on the recipient. And, first, it makes that which is adorned more conspicuous and better known. A picture in a frame is more likely to be looked at than one that is unframed. Adornment is an advertisement of merit: it makes the adorned object more readily perceived and more widely appreciated. And, secondly, if it is well chosen and well bestowed, it augments the merit of that which it adorns. That which was fair before is made still fairer by suitable ornament. The beautiful painting is still more beautiful in a worthy frame. Noble ornament increases the dignity of a noble structure. And a person of royal presence becomes still more regal when royally arrayed. Adornment, therefore, is not only an advertisement of beauty, it is also a real enhancement of it. All these particulars hold good with regard to the adornment of the doctrine of God. By trying to adorn it and make it more beautiful and more attractive, we show our respect for it; we pay our tribute of homage and admiration. We show to all the world that we think it estimable, and worthy of attention and honour. And by so doing we make the doctrine of God better known: we bring it under the notice of others who might otherwise have overlooked it: we force it upon their attention. Moreover, the doctrine which we thus adorn becomes really more beautiful in consequence. Our acceptance of the doctrine of God, and our efforts to adorn it, bring out its inherent life and develop its natural value, and every additional person who joins us in doing this is an augmentation of its powers. It is within our power not only to honour and make better known, but also to enhance, the beauty of the doctrine of God. But slaves--and such slaves as were found throughout the Roman empire in St. Paul’s day--what have they to do with the adornment of the doctrine of God? Why is this duty of making the gospel more beautiful specially mentioned in connection with them? That the aristocracy of the empire, its magistrates, its senators, its commanders--supposing that any of them could be induced to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ--should be charged to adorn the doctrines which they had accepted, would be intelligible. Their acceptance of it would be a tribute to its dignity. Their loyalty to it would be a proclamation of its merits. Their accession to its ranks would be a real augmentation of its powers of attraction. But almost the reverse of all this would seem to be the truth in the case of slaves. Their tastes were so low, their moral judgment so debased, that for a religion to have found a welcome among slaves would hardly be a recommendation of it to respectable people. And what opportunities had slaves, regarded as they were as the very outcasts of society, of making the gospel better known or more attractive? Yet St. Paul knew what he was about when he urged Titus to commit the “adorning of the doctrine of God” in a special manner to slaves: and experience has proved the soundness of his judgment. If the mere fact that many slaves accepted the faith could not do a great deal to recommend the power and beauty of the gospel, the Christian lives, which they thenceforward led, could. It was a strong argument a fortiori. The worse the unconverted sinner, the more marvellous his thorough conversion. As Chrysostom puts it, when it was seen that Christianity, by giving a settled principle of sufficient power to counterbalance the pleasures of sin, was able to impose a restraint upon a class so self-willed, and render them singularly well behaved, then their masters, however unreasonable they might be, were likely to form a high opinion of the doctrines which accomplished this. And Chrysostom goes on to point out that the way in which slaves are to endeavour to adorn the doctrine of God is by cultivating precisely those virtues which contribute most to their masters’ comfort and interest--submissiveness, gentleness, meekness, honesty, truthfulness, and a faithful discharge of all duties. What a testimony conduct of this kind would be to the power and beauty of the gospel; and a testimony all the more powerful in the eyes of those masters who became conscious that these despised Christian slaves were living better lives than their owners! The passionate man, who found his slave always gentle and submissive; the inhuman and ferocious man, who found his slave always meek and respectful; the fraudulent man of business, who noticed that his slave never pilfered or told lies; the sensualist, who observed that his slave was never intemperate and always shocked at immodesty--all these, even if they were not induced to become converts to the new faith, or even to take much trouble to understand it, would at least at times feel something of respect, if not of awe and reverence, for a creed which produced such results. Where did their slaves learn these lofty principles? Whence did they derive the power to live up to them? Nor were these the only ways in which the most degraded and despised class in the society of that age were able to “adorn the doctrine of God.” Slaves were not only an ornament to the faith by their lives; they adorned it also by their deaths. Not a few slaves won the martyr’s crown. What slaves could do then we all of us can do now. We can prove to all for whom and with whom we work that we really do believe and endeavour to live up to the faith that we profess. By the lives we lead we can show to all who know anything of us that we are loyal to Christ. By avoiding offence in word or in deed, and by welcoming opportunities of doing good to others, we can make His principles better known. And by doing all this brightly and cheerfully, without ostentation or affectation or moroseness, we tan make His principles attractive. Thus we also can “adorn the doctrine of God in all things.” “In all things.” That all-embracing addition to the apostolic injunction must not be test sight of. There is no duty so humble, no occupation, so trifling, that it cannot be made into an opportunity for adorning our religion (1 Corinthians 10:31). (A. Plummer, D. D.)

Christians making the gospel beautiful

The wonderful possibility that is opened out here before every Christian that he may add beauty to the gospel. He may paint the lily and gild the refined gold. For men do quite rightly and legitimately judge of systems by their followers. The astronomer does not look directly up into the sky when he wants to watch the heavenly bodies, but down into the mirror, on which their reflection is cast. And so our little low lives down here upon earth should so give back the starry bodies and infinitudes above us that some dim eyes, which peradventure could not gaze into the violet abysses with their lustrous points, may behold them reflected in the beauty of your life. Our lives should be like the old missals, where you find the loving care of the monastic scribe has illuminated and illustrated the holy text, or has rubricated and gilded some of the letters. The best Illustrated Bible is the conduct of the people that profess to take it for their guide and law.

The solemn alternative. If you look at the context you will see that a set of exhortations preceding these to the slaves, which are addressed to the wives, end with urging as the great motive to the conduct enjoined, “that the Word of God be not blasphemed.” That is the other side of the same thought as is in my text. The issues of the conduct of professing Christians are the one or other of these two, either to add beauty to the gospel or to cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. If you do not the one you will be doing the other. There are no worse enemies of the gospel than its inconsistent friends. Who is it that thwarts missionary work in India? Englishmen! Who is it that, wherever they go with their ships, put a taunt into the lips of the enemy which the Christian workers find it hard to meet? English sailors! The notorious dissipation and immorality amongst the representatives of English commerce in the various Eastern eentres of trade puts a taunt into the mouth of the abstemious Hindu and of the Chinaman. “These are your Christians, are they?” England, that sends out missionaries in the cabin, and Bibles and men side by side amongst the cargo, has to listen, and her people have to take to themselves the awful words with which the ancient Jewish inconsistencies were rebuked: “Through you the name of God is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles.” And in less solemn manner perhaps, but just as truly, here, in a so-called Christian land, the inconsistencies, the selfishness, the worldliness of professing Christian people, the absolute absence of all apparent difference between them and the most godless man that is in the same circumstances, are the things which perhaps more than anything else counteract the evangelistic efforts of the Christian Church.

The sort of life that will commend and adorn the gospel.

1. It must be a life conspicuously and uniformly under the influence of Christian principles. I put emphasis upon these two words “conspicuously” and “uniformly.” It will be of very little use if your Christian principle is so buried in your life, embedded beneath a mass of selfishness and worldliness and indifference as that it takes a microscope and a week’s looking for to find it. And it will be of very little use, either, if your life is by fits and starts under the influence of Christian principle; a minute guided by that and ten minutes guided by the other thing--if here and there, sprinkled thinly over the rotting mass, there be a handful of the saving salt.

2. Remember, too, as the context teaches us, that the lives which commend and adorn the doctrine must be such as manifest Christian principle in the smallest details. What is it Paul tells these Cretan slaves to do that they may “adorn the doctrine”? Obedience, keeping a civil tongue in their heads in the midst of provocation, not indulging in petty pilfering, being true to the trust that was given to them. “That is no great thing,” you may say, but in these little things they were to adorn the great doctrine of God their Saviour. Ay! The smallest duties are in some sense the largest sphere for the operation of great principles. For it is the little duties which by their minuteness tempt men to think that they can do them without calling in the great principles of conduct, that give the colour to every life after all. The little banks of mud in the wheel tracks in the road are shaped upon the same slopes, and moulded by the same law that carves the mountains and lifts the precipices of the Himalayas. And a handful of snow in the hedge in the winter time will fall into the same curves, and be obedient to the same great physical laws which shape the glaciers that lie on the sides of the Alps. You do not want big things in order, largely and nobly, to manifest big principles. The smallest duties, distinctly done for Christ’s sake, wilt adorn the doctrine.

3. And then again, I may say that the manner of life which commends the gospel will be one conspicuously above the level of the morality of the class to which you belong. These slaves were warned not to fall into the vices that were proper to their class, in order that by not falling into them, and so being unlike their fellows, they might glorify the gospel. For the things that Paul warns them not to do are the faults which all history and experience tell us are exactly the vices of the slave--petty pilfering, a rank tongue blossoming into insolent speech, a disregard of the master’s interests, sulky disobedience or sly evasion of the command. These are the kind of things that the devilish institution of slavery makes almost necessary on the part of the slave, unless some higher motive and loftier principle come in to counteract the effects. And in like manner all of us have, in the class to which we belong, and the sort of life which we have to live, certain evils natural to our position; and unless you are unlike the non-Christian men of your own profession and the people that are under the same worldly influence as you are--unless you are unlike them in that your righteousness exceeds their righteousness, “Ye shall in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Religion adorned

The purity of truth. The other day we read in the newspapers that in Berlin there is a wonderful gem, a sapphire weighing ten ounces, and said to be worth--if it were pure--a million pounds. But there is a flaw in it; it is not “one entire and perfect chrysolite.” Ah, if it were only pure! We damage our cause and prevent people from joining us sometimes because we are not true to the principles we profess. Deceit is always ugly; truth is ever beautiful. To be pure and truthful in all we say or do cannot be accomplished by merely wishing; it will probably take an entire life for a man to become genuine as Jesus Christ was. Still, let us try; and though we fall, we should not despair. The finest trait of beauty in a man’s character is when he is so true that his word may be trusted as much as his bond, and people remark of him, “Well, if he says so, it must be true.”

The rhythm of life. Not only wear a flower in your breast, but let there be the beauty of truth and the perfume of kindliness in your looks, words, and actions. Let me tell you of a famous soldier who went to the palace one day to have an audience of the king of England. Having to wait a little, he paced up and down the antechamber impatiently, and as he walked, his sword dragged and rattled behind him. The king opening the door, said to a courtier loud enough for all the others to hear, “Dear me, what a nuisance that man’s sword is!” The veteran exclaimed, “So your Majesty’s enemies think.” That was the “retort courteous,” wasn’t it? Of course the sword was powerful, and while the hand that wielded it was strong and the heart of the soldier true and brave, still I think he might have carried his sword quietly; though it was terrible in the battle, need he to make it a nuisance in the palace? Therefore, be thoughtful of the feelings of others. More unpleasantness is caused by want of thought than by want of feeling. Make your life as musical and poetical as possible, agreeable in passing and pleasant in remembrance.

The glory of usefulness. In being useful you are adorning the religion of Christ; pluck up your heart, and seek out opportunities to do good. Be a true Christian minister; and remember that though you are a slave to circumstances, you may adorn religion more than a cathedral can do. When you thus live, prompted by love to God and love to man, life shall be a blessing, and your heaven shall be begun below. (W. Birch.)

The grammar of ornament

The grandeur of Christian doctrine. “The doctrine of God.” If the gospel of Christ be the doctrine of God it ought to reflect the attributes of God. We venture to say it does thus reflect its Author; the New Testament bears conspicuously the grand characteristics of divinity.

1. Think of the vastness of the gospel. We feel in it the infinitude of God. We are redeemed before the foundation of the world; the redemption disclosed is that of a race; it is worked out through the ages; its issues are in the great eternity beyond.

2. Think of the purity of the gospel. There is a strange purity in revelation. The Old Testament stretches like a stainless sky above the wild, sensual, corrupt nations of antiquity; the New Testament bears the same relation to the life of modern nations. As we look into the pure blue of the firmament far beyond our smoky atmosphere, so do we look up to the righteousness revealed in Christ as the body of heaven for clearness.

3. Think of the love of the gospel--comprehending men of all nations, languages, tribes, and tongues.

4. Think of the power of the gospel. We feel in revelation the energy of suns, the force of winds, the sound of many seas. There is a majestic moral power in the gospel that we do not find in the sublimest philosophies of men, that is also painfully missing in the noblest sacred literature of the heathen (Romans 1:16).

5. Think of the permanence of revelation. Science says, “Persistence is the sign of reality.” How divinely real, then, is the gospel of God in Jesus Christ! It is the only thing on the face of the earth that does persist. Every now and then when a new heresy starts up there is a panic, as if the authority of revelation had come to an end; but if you wait awhile it is the heresy and the panic which come to an end. A gentleman told me that he was walking in his garden one day when his little child was by; suddenly the little one burst into tears and cried out in terror, “Oh! father, the house is falling.” The child saw the clouds drifting over the house, and mistook the movement of the clouds for the movement of the house--the house was right enough, it is standing now. So sometimes we think that revelation is falling and coming to nought, but it is soon clear that the movement is elsewhere. Nations, dynasties, philosophies, fashions, pass like fleeting vapours and shadows, but the gospel stands like a rock. Ah! and will stand when rolling years shall cease to move.

The supreme demonstration of Christian doctrine is found in Christian character. “That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” The gospel is not a mere speculation, a superb philosophy, a grand ideal; it is intensely practical; it is to prove itself the doctrine of God by making all who believe in it like God.

1. “Adorn the doctrine.” That is, reveal, display, make conspicuous and impressive the splendid contents of your faith. The doctrine of God is in the Testaments in suppressed magnificence, and the saints are to give it expression, embodiment: they are to flash out the unrevealed glory in their spirit and language and conduct. The vastness, the depth, the tenderness, the beauty of their creed is to be made tangible. Our creed must transfigure our life; our life must demonstrate the divinity of our creed. As the stars adorn astronomy, as the roses of June adorn botany, as the rainbow adorns optics, so our conduct must flash out the hidden virtue and glory of the doctrine of God.

2. Adorn the doctrine “in all things.” The saints are to illustrate the doctrine of God in all its fulness--to do it justice at all points. And so we have much to do. Every system of morality outside the Christian Church: Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, Utilitarian, Positivist; every system concerns itself with some pet virtue, or with some special class of virtues; but Christianity is most comprehensive--it concerns itself with whatever is just, true, lovely, or of good report; everything virtuous and praiseworthy is made an object of aspiration. We must do justice to the doctrine of God throughout our whole personality. At one end of our complex nature are the grand faculties of intelligence, conscience, will, imagination, linking us with the upper universe; at the other end of our being are basal instincts and affinities establishing a kinship between us and the world below our feet. We must see to it that our faith hallows our whole personality, that our splendid faculties are sacred to their lofty uses, that our inferior instincts are duly chastened, that we live sanctified in body, soul, and spirit. The ethics of Christianity comprehend the whole grammar of ornament. The faith of Christ is a salvation from all sin, a salvation into all holiness. As everybody knows, Shakespeare was a great lover of the old English flowers, frequently making them to spring forth in his poems with the freshness of nature itself, and so some years ago, when his admirers restored the cottage in which the dramatist was born, they resolved to plant in its grounds all the sweet things of summer found on the bard’s immortal page: rosemary, ox-lip, wild thyme, pansies, peony, lily, love-in-idleness, cuckoo-buds, lady-smocks, freckled cowslip, daisies pied, eglantine, woodbine, nodding violets, musk roses, red roses--all were carefully planted out in the sun. What a catalogue of virtues could we compile from revelation! What a multitude of graces are here, and fine differentiations of sublime qualities and principles of moral life! Now all these we are to realise in actual life as season and opportunity may permit, until the whole range of our character and action is filled with beauty and fragrance as the garden of the Lord. In adorning the doctrine of God in all things we render that doctrine the most valuable service any may render it. The world is not persuaded by logic, by learning, by literature, but by life; the multitude believes in what it can see--in the eloquence of conduct, the logic of facts, the feeling and power of deeds. We may see this very clearly illustrated in another direction. Why do we all believe in astronomy? Why have we such a positive faith in a science which professes to give the true account of the distant mysterious firmament; which assumes to weigh suns, to analyse stars, to calculate the movements of endless orbs and comets? Do we believe in all this because we have read Sir Isaac Newton, mastered his reasonings, verified his calculations and conclusions? Not for a moment. The faith of the million rests on what it can see. Our common faith in astronomy is derived not immediately from Newton’s Principia, but indirectly through the penny almanac. At the beginning of the year we learn that an eclipse of the sun or moon is predicted, and on the palpable fulfilment of that prediction rests the firmest faith of modern times--faith in astronomy. On the day or night of an eclipse myriads of people look into the sky who never look into it at any other time, and the exact fulfilment of the prediction brings conviction to their mind touching all the large assumptions of celestial science. People believe in what they see; the popular faith is based entirely on the darkened orb. So the faith of men generally in Christianity does not rest on theology, criticism, logic, but on Christianity as it finds expression in the spirit and life of its disciples. Once more men believe in what they see, only this time they are not called to look upon a darkened orb, but on a Church bright as the sun shedding on men and nations moral splendours like the light of seven days. (W. L. Watkinson.)

The duty of adorning our Christian profession

Take a general view of the doctrine of God our Saviour. It is not the doctrine of God, as our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, Governor, etc., which is here meant, but the doctrine that concerns our salvation--our fall in Adam, and its consequences (Romans 5:12), ignorance, insensibility, sinfulness, guilt, condemnation, etc; our redemption by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Romans 5:6-10; 1 Peter 1:18) the means whereby we partake of this redemption, viz., repentance and faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21); the effects produced, as justification, whereby we pass from condemnation and wrath to acquaintance and favour with God, and are entitled to eternal life (Acts 13:38; Titus 3:7); as renovation of nature, whereby we are qualified to bring forth fruit to the glory of God; the necessity of continuing in this state of salvation, and increasing in holiness (John 15:1; Romans 11:19-22); our enemies and hindrances--Satan, the world, the flesh (Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 John 2:14-15; Romans 8:12-13); our friends and helps--God (Romans 8:31), Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16; 2 Corinthians 12:9), the Spirit (Romans 8:26), angels (Hebrews 1:14), the people of God: that we are upon our trial for eternity, and many eyes upon us (Hebrews 12:1): the issue of all, the death of the body, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection, judgment, eternal life.

Show what is meant by adorning it. Here is an allusion to the ornaments of dress. Dress may be fit or unfit for us, suitable or unsuitable: our temper and conduct must be suitable to the gospel. Instance, in the doctrine of our fall and its consequences. Does the gospel teach that we are fallen, depraved, etc.? then all high thoughts of ourselves, all self-confidence, and impenitence are unsuitable to this doctrine; humility, self-abasement, and godly sorrow, are suitable thereto. In the doctrine of our redemption; unbelief, diffidence, despondency, are unsuitable; faith, confidence in God, and peace of mind, are suitable thereto.

2. Another end for which dress is used is to represent and exhibit the persons who wear it in their true character and proper loveliness. Just so, our temper and conduct should be calculated to set forth the doctrine of the gospel in the most correct and clear point of view.

3. A third end, which some have in view in adopting various kinds of dress, is to add to their comeliness and beauty, and make themselves appear more agreeable than they really are. We cannot possibly give greater beauty to the gospel than it has, but there are certain graces and virtues which are more calculated to set forth its beauty and amiableness, and to show it to advantage. Such are the graces and virtues recommended (Rom 12:9-18; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Colossians 3:12-17); and in the verses preceding the text, as truth, uprightness, justice, mercy, charity, meekness, gentleness, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, liberality, cheerfulness, gratitude.

How this must be done “in all things.” In all persons, old and young, rich and poor, high and low. In all conditions and states, as married or single, parents or children, masters or servants. In all places: at home, abroad, alone, in company, in the church or market, with our friends or enemies, the righteous or wicked. In all employments: in religious, civil, and natural actions. At all times: on the Lord’s days; on other days; at morning, noon and night; in childhood, youth, manhood, middle age, old age. (J. Benson.)


Raphael, the prince of modern painters, made ten pictures of Bible scenes. Three of them were lost, and somehow the rest lay neglected and forgotten for more than a hundred years in a garret at Arras. There Rubens found them, and persuaded Charles I of England to buy them for his palace. They were put into good order, and by and by a room in Hampton Court Palace was built to receive them. They are now admired by thousands in the South Kensington Museum, and, by means of engravings, are better known, it is said, than any other work of art in the world. The gospel in Crete was like Raphael’s pictures in the Arras garret. It was a despised thing, overlaid with frightful prejudices, under which its beauty was buried. But Paul feels that if the poor Christian slaves lived Christian lives, they would do for it what Rubens did for the defaced and dusty paintings of Raphael; they would rescue it from neglect, and discover its heavenly grandeur to admiring thousands who would multiply and spread it throughout the world. Every adorner of the doctrine walks along a highway which has these stages.

Saving faith, a hearty faith. A doctrine in logic or metaphysics appeals only to my head: it has little or nothing to do with the heart; but “the doctrine” must win the assent of the mind and the consent of the heart. The gospel plants all its artillery before the heart till the everlasting gates are lifted up that the King of glory may enter and reign without a rival. And you must obey Him; for, being God as well as Saviour, when He commands you must obey. You are like the wounded soldier on the battlefield, to whom healing is offered by the doctor, who has all the authority of the kingdom at his back. The sick man has no right to refuse, he must accept healing that he may be fitted for the Queen’s service. The offers of mercy, so gentle, have behind them all the authority of heaven. Christ as Saviour wins the heart, and as God He claims obedience.

True confession. Christ comes from heaven, and gives His testimony about God and yourself, about sin and salvation. You in your turn take up and repeat His testimony. You receive His record, and set to your seal that He is true. Your confession is to be as a true trademark, declaring the maker and quality of what is within. The foot, or the hand, or the eye must not contradict the lip. And you are to put away all mean shame; for no one ever adorned a doctrine of which he was ashamed before men.

Daily duty, a heavenly morality. Some make much of duty, but think that they can get on well enough without doctrine. Were the captain of a steamer to say, “I want steam, but don’t bother me with coals--dirty, dull, heavy lumps; steam, but no coal for me,” you should think him a very foolish man. Now he is as foolish whose motto is, “Not doctrine, but life. The apostle, you see, unites the two. He makes one thing of doctrine and piety, and one thing of piety and morality. To him duty is the adorning of the doctrine. (James Wells.)

Adorning the truth

The word “doctrine,” as used here, means instruction--any or all of the great truths set forth in the Divine word. The word “adorn” means to decorate or beautify, as with gems or garlands or goodly apparel.

This exhortation applies first to all who, in any sense or sphere, are teaching Christian truths.

1. It is largely violated in two opposite directions.

(1) On the one hand, we find the doctrines of grace set forth as bold, ugly, and repulsive dogmata.

(2) On the other hand, we find men attempting to render the gospel attractive to the carnal heart by simply leaving all its strong doctrines out of it.

2. Between these extremes, and equally opposed to both, lies the true method of teaching. It is not the work of a costumer, arranging either a harlequin for farce or a gibbering ghost for tragedy; but it is a blessed imitation of Christ, beautifying the whole heavenly body of truth by “adorning its doctrines.”

This exhortation applies equally to all Christians, bidding them make all these doctrines beautiful by the power of their daily lives. Let us only live as if the gospel we profess, instead of making us gloomy fanatics or self-righteous pharisees, made us rather kind and gentle, and lovely and joyous; never taking from us a single truly good thing on earth, but only adding to each a new charm and power. Thereby we shall wonderfully adorn that gospel. The humblest man in our midst, if he live imitating his Master, his life pervaded with the principles of his faith, truly glorifies the gospel. Behold these humble children of suffering and toil--that faithful-hearted woman, plying her needle into the waning night that she may earn scanty bread for her fatherless children, amid all temptations and trials keeping Christian faith and love unstained; and as she fashions that coarse garment she is working as well a lustrous robe for God’s glorious gospel! See that weary toiler in shop or field, amid all antagonisms to good and solicitations to evil making exhibition of all that is honest and lovely and of good report; and while he plies the hammer, or holds the plough, he is making Divine truth beautiful, as with gems and fine gold fashioning a diadem for the gospel of Christ. Oh, what a beauty and glory it casts over this low world and this common life, just to feel that amid all weary labour and perplexing cares we are at work not merely for ourselves and our beloved ones, or for the higher good of our day and generation, but verily and directly as well for the infinite God and His glory; that there is not one of us so ignorant or obscure that he may not, in his own sphere and lot, be reflecting splendour on every Divine attribute, bringing forth nobler regalia for the coronation of Christ! (C. Wadsworth, D. D.)

Gospel adornment

A name of adornment for the gospel. “The doctrine of God our Saviour.”

1. It sets forth its greatness: “doctrine of God.”

(1) Our fall, ruin, sin, and punishment were great.

(2) Our salvation and redemption are great.

(3) Our safety, happiness, and hopes are great.

2. It sets forth its certainty. It is “of God.”

(1) It comes by revelation of God.

(2) It is guaranteed by the fidelity of God.

(3) It is as immutable as God Himself.

3. It sets forth its relation to Christ Jesus: “of God our Saviour.”

(1) He is the author of it.

(2) He is the substance of it.

(3) He is the proclaimer of it.

(4) He is the object of it. The gospel glorifies Jesus.

4. It sets forth its authority.

(1) The whole system of revealed truth is of God.

(2) The Saviour Himself is God, and hence He must be accepted.

(3) The gospel itself is Divine. God’s mind is embodied in the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, and to reject it is to reject God.

A method of adornment for the gospel.

1. The persons who are to adorn the gospel. In Paul’s day, bond servants or slaves; in our day, poor servants of the humblest order. Strange that these should be set to such a task! Yet the women slaves adorned their mistresses, and both men and women of the poorest class were quite ready to adorn themselves. From none does the gospel receive more honour than from the poor.

2. The way in which these persons could specially adorn the gospel.

(1) By obedience to their masters (Titus 2:9).

(2) By endeavours to please them: “please them well.”

(3) By restraining their tongues: “not answering again.”

(4) By scrupulous honesty: “not purloining” (Titus 2:10).

(5) By trustworthy character: “showing all good fidelity.”

3. The way of adornment of the doctrine in general.

(1) Adornment, if really so, is suitable to beauty. Holiness, mercifulness, cheerfulness, etc., are congruous with the gospel.

(2) Adornment is often a tribute to beauty. Such is a godly conversation: it honours the gospel.

(3) Adornment is an advertisement of beauty. Holiness calls attention to the natural beauty of the gospel.

(4) Adornment is an enhancement of beauty. Godliness gives emphasis to the excellence of doctrine. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Living ornaments

1. I sometimes think that the doctrine of God our Saviour, may be likened to a guide book, which tells us how to attain a holy character. When buying a book, I always give preference to one that is illustrated. I prize my Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” as much for its charming pictures as for its letterpress. As pictures adorn a book, so let our kindly words and loving deeds be pleasant illustrations of the Christ who dwells within. Paul said, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth within me”; but people cannot see the Christ within you. They are like children, who cannot read the words of a book, but can understand it from the pictures. Therefore, let your life be an adorning picture of the doctrine that the gentle and loving Christ dwells within His disciples.

2. It may also be likened to a letter from a loved one. A month or two ago, I received a loving letter from Southport, from one of our orphan children who is now dangerously ill; and in her letter, she enclosed two or three beautiful flowers which she had begged from somebody’s garden. The letter was not elegantly expressed or beautifully written, but those flowers spoke to my heart; they made the letter beautiful. Let us adorn the epistles of our lives with the beautiful flowers of peace and gentleness. Your life may be but humble and poor--some people may even call you vulgar; but still you may adorn yourself with the perfume of love, and your life shall lead men to God.

3. I think, too, that Christianity may be likened to a shelter in the wilderness of a prodigal’s life. See him yonder, afar off, half naked, hungry, broken hearted, looking for home, and while he looks and longs for home, his father runs, and falls on his neck, and kisses him, and orders a feast to welcome him. But soon after, his elder brother drew nigh to the house, and hearing music and dancing, he cried, “What means this?” When he was told that it was done to welcome his younger brother, he was angry and would not go in. The elder brother did not adorn, but blurred the doctrine of God our Saviour. The father adorned the doctrine that God loves the penitent sinner; and you should copy his spirit into your life. When you forgive men, do it kindly and thoroughly. A man or a woman--it may be your workmate, or your brother, or child--having been sorely tempted, the weak one has fallen, and comes to your door hungry, naked, friendless, and penniless. Take her in, of course, with a kindly welcome; and thus, adorn the doctrine that God freely and cheerfully pardons His human children.

4. The Christ life may be further likened to seed--it is a thing of growth, and generally of slow growth, as is the case with things that are to be lasting. While character cannot be wholly transferred, the seeds of love and purity can be planted in us. The seeds of truth are planted in the receptive soil of our heart, which has to be prepared for it, and kept watered by prayer and faith, and continually weeded of those wild inclinations which always choke the plant. Like a divine graft, the Christ-life of purity and self-sacrifice is joined to us, and becomes our life, our love, our delight. When His Spirit dwells within us, we grow like Him in our character, and our fruit is after His kind.

5. When we receive the truths of Jesus and practise them from day to day, our lives shall exhibit and adorn His doctrine of sacred charity. We need more charity; the charity which covereth a multitude of sins, and holds on to the erring ones to the very end, copying from Christ, who never forsook His wayward disciples. Let us show our charity when men need it most. If a man have plenty of friends fawning upon him, you need not bestow your friendship; but when he is hungry, naked, or sick, or in grief, then be to him the adornment of the doctrine of charity. Show men that you believe in Christ by carrying out His teaching in the friendship and charity of your life. It is said that Francis the Second, of Prussia, took as his motto these words: “The king of Prussia shall be the first servant of his people.” If you would be great in God’s sight; if you would be a power not only in this world but in the next, be a servant to your fellow men, especially in their sore distress. One day, when Napoleon was walking in the streets of Paris, a man came along bearing a heavy burden on his shoulder. Napoleon at once stepped from the footpath into the carriage road, and allowed the man to pass. Some of his officers were very much surprised, saying, “Sire, why did you give way to that wretched man?” Napoleon replied, “Should I not respect his burden?” So, let us respect the misfortunes of our fellow men. Let the men, women, and children in your street, through your noble life, be led to praise God; and let your light so shine that all men may see the goodness of the Lord through you and be drawn unto Him. (W. Birch.)

Adorning the doctrine of God

We have been so educated that we are apt to think of beauty as simply an attribute of matter. We are apt to think that it can be transferred to moral conduct only by a figure of speech. Now, while we do not deny that in the constitution of the human mind there is such a condition of faculty as that the perception of outline, or colour, or harmony in matter, or materialness, produces a certain enjoyment, or, as we call it, a certain sense of the beautiful, we affirm that that right conduct--moral excellence as well as intellectual excellence--produces upon the mind just as clearly a sense of beauty. I might appeal to every man’s own experience in his home life--if his home life is fortunate--whether the qualities that he discerned in father and mother were not admirable to him in his childhood; and whether they were not admirable to him all the way up. And to many of you, I speak with confidence when I say that, when you have wandered far from technical faith, yea, when you have largely fallen under the chill of doubt and unbelief, there still remains to you a silver cord not yet loosed, and a golden bowl not yet broken, and that that cord which holds you to faith is the mother’s heart, and that that bowl is the father’s heart, and that you believe against reason and in spite of unbelief, because of the faith yet lingering in your soul in the moral qualities that you have witnessed in the household. Is not courage beautiful? Is not disinterested benevolence beautiful? There is the case of the engineer who would not abandon his engine, but stood steadfast because he knew he had a hundred lives behind him. He stood upon the board, obviously knowing that he was rushing into the darkness of death. Then there was that other engineer who, on the burning ship upon Lake Erie, stood by the wheel, and steered for the shore, amidst the gathering and gaining flames, refusing to escape, and perished in the wheelhouse, in the vain effort to save those who were committed to his charge. Are not such deeds grand? Are not the qualities that inspire them beautiful? Is there any temple, is there any sculptured statue, is there any picture, that thrills the soul with such enthusiastic admiration as acts like these? And what are they but moral acts? How do all men say of them--“They are grand, they are beautiful, they are sublime.” Look at the disinterestedness of woman’s love. She was won from the father’s house and household with all that was hopeful before her, to begin a life of love. He was full of generosity, full of manliness, and full of promise. The buds of young developing life hung on the bough, and were blossoming, until the fatal snare was set for him: until the growing habit of intoxication fastened upon him, and degradation settled down upon him, and little by little her life, with anguish of foresight, and with anguish of love, is overclouded. And yet, though her father’s door stands open to call her back, she will not abandon him. She thinks of her children, she thinks of their future, and she will not abandon him. He grows morose. More and more he becomes like the animals. The beauty which she first saw in him lives now only in memory. The recollection of the past, or some dimly-painted dream of the future, is all the source of joy that is left her; for the present to her is full of woe, and sorrow, and humiliation. Gradually his friends forsake him. He is abandoned by one and by another. He is cast out of work and out of position. More and more is he degraded and bestialized; and well might she cry, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But she cries no such thing. No angel in heaven ever ministered more patiently, more tenderly, or more indefatigably for a soul than does she for him. And when at last he dies, and every person in the whole neighbourhood breathes freer, and says, “Thank God, he is gone, and she is free at last!” she is the only mourner; she is the only one that remembers the good that was in him; and she stands at his grave bowed down with real grief. She stood by him through good report and through evil report, as she promised; and love triumphed. Tell me, unbrutified men, is there no beauty in self-denial or in self-sacrifice? Take every single moral quality. Take those fruits of the Spirit recorded in the word of God which you will find in the fifth chapter of Galatians. Love--is not that beautiful? Is there anything that makes the face so seraphic as the full expression of a noble and high minded love? Joy--even a curmudgeon of avarice will look with admiration upon the cheery, face of outbursting joy in children. Peace, such as we often see when the passions are burned out, when the day and its heat are gone, and the soul in its old age sits waiting for the final revelation--this is beautiful. The beauty of the house is in the cradle or in the armchair. Long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control--are not these, when they exist in plenary power, esteemed by mankind honourable and beautiful? and do they not excite the involuntary exclamation of surprise? Now, it is on account of the intrinsic beauty of moral quality that piety and religious life, in their higher forms, are spoken of in the word of God as beautiful; and the consummation of piety in the social estate, in the Church, whether in the present or in the future, is celebrated all the way through the Bible as beautiful. When the beauty that is in moral quality shall be developed and made conspicuous; when not merely here and there a person, or a handful, or a household, are harmonious, all the others being relatively at discords; when not only single families in a neighbourhood, or single members in a Church are at peace; but when, in serried ranks, men shall shine with the beauty of holiness, and be lifted into a higher state in which they are able to give positiveness to the fruits of the spirit; when neighbour does it to neighbour, and it becomes the public sentiment, and the air is full of it--then will come the millennial day; then will be realized that enchanting vision which danced in the air before the prophet’s eye; then shall men live together in righteousness; then shall that state be known which is symbolized by the lying down of the lion with the lamb; then all brute natures, all that live by vice, and cruelty, and wickedness, shall be cleansed out of the earth; and all men shall rejoice in the light, and in the glory, and in the supremacy of those spiritual experiences which belong to a religious life. It is often the case, when persons are brought into the Christian life--especially when in great numbers, and under great excitement--that the first thought of every one is, “Now, what shall I do?” And some begin to think of tracts, and wonder if it would not be well for them to have a district. Others inquire if they had not better go out and see their young friends, and preach to them. They are taught explicitly that they must go to work. It is said to them, “You are converted; now go to work. Start prayer meetings. Bring in the neighbourhood.” I do not say that these things are to be deprecated: on the contrary, in due degree, and with proper discretion, they all may be duties; but to represent a Christian life as having its first exhibition and its peculiar testimony in setting itself to work on and about somebody else is a grave mistake. My advice to every one of you that has found the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is living in a joyful faith, is, make yourselves more comely. Look to your thoughts and dispositions. Begin with yourself in your relations to brother and sister, or to father and mother. Let every duty that is incumbent upon you as child, or husband, or wife, rise instantly to an exalted place, and become more luminous, more beautiful, better. And if, having made home more heavenly, if--your disposition being ripened and beautified--there be opportunity for enterprise with others, do not by any indolence or misconception neglect that opportunity. Wherever you are, make those who are next to you in the relation of life see that you are a better man since you became a Christian than you were before, as a doorkeeper, or as a doer of errands, as a bookkeeper, as a salesman, as a schoolboy or a schoolgirl. In whatever station God has placed you, in the performance of your special duty, let the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ be so borne that men, seeing the things which you do, may be attracted to Him by the exhibition of your personal character in your relations. Remember that the essential power of the gospel of Christ, in so far as you are concerned, will lie in how much of Christ you have in you. It is not profession, nor is it doctrine, though it were preached by never so eloquent lips, that has power with the world; it is Christlikeness in men. It is living as Christ lived, not in outward condition, but in inward disposition. He came down that we might go up. Though He was rich, for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. He wept that we need not weep. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that He might lift others out of the lower sphere. He accepted poverty as a means of enriching us. You are to follow Christ’s example; and you can preach no more of Him than you practise. (H. W. Beecher.)

All-round Christianity

In this Titus is counselled to place plainly before the several classes of people who claim to belong to the Church of Christ the virtues they are expected to cultivate and the vices they must carefully shun. Each class and each rank has its own special duties to perform, its own special temptations to resist, its own testimony for Christ to bear. There is no class, and there is no individual exempt from this. Titus must make no respect of persons, and neglect no class. He must not influence class against class, but address himself to each, and tell each how to act towards the others. Each class is under obligation to fulfil its duties towards others so faithfully that it may be seen at once that they, are the disciples of Christ. Now, if every class of professing Christians were to act in this way, were to strive so to act--were to think less of the failure of others in the fulfilment of duty and more of their own, were to look at home first and set about correcting what is wrong there--what a wonderful transformation would be effected in the face of society. Masters would ask, not, “Are my workmen as diligent as they ought to be?” but “Do I deal as fairly with them as I should?” Servants would ask, not “Is my master as just towards me as the law of Christ commands?” but “Am I doing what in me lies to fulfil my duty towards him, as Christ would have me?” Landlords would ask, not “Are my tenants as industrious and thrifty as they might be?” but “Am I dealing with them in as fair and brotherly a spirit as I should?” Tenants would ask, not “Is my landlord not exacting from me more than he ought?” but “Am I as careful over his property as I should be--as I might be?” And so on throughout all the relationships of life. But, alas! few think of adopting this method of adorning their Christian profession. They think it enough to adorn that profession if they point out to one class the faults of the others, or bemoan the wrongs done to themselves, forgetful of, or heedless to, the wrongs they themselves do to others. It was not thus that our Lord desired His people, His followers, to act. No; each man was to begin with himself, pull the beam out of his own eye before he set himself to extract the mote out of his neighbour’s. But not only are we apt to overlook the applicability of the law of Christian duty to ourselves; we are apt also to overlook its thoroughness and comprehensiveness. There are not a few whose adornment of the Christian doctrine goes little, if any, further than the acceptance of the Church creed, and attendance with more or less regularity on certain church services. It is not an uncommon thing to meet men and women who boast of, who are sincerely proud of, their orthodoxy and Church attendance, and who do not think it wrong to practise in business what are called, Say, the “tricks of trade,” or in private life to indulge in some one or more vices. I have myself heard a person in a maudlin state of intoxication lamenting the sad condition of a friend who had expressed himself doubtful of the expediency of infant baptism. Then, again, we have instances of people who magnify one particular virtue, which they happen to practise, and who become so proud of it that they quite forget the other virtues which our Christian faith inculcates quite as much on them. The virtue may, after all, however, not be in their case a virtue at all, or be very little of a virtue. Christ would not have the temperate man less temperate than he is, but He would ask him, though he has no inclination towards strong drink, to examine himself and see if he has no inclination towards something else which is bad, and set himself against that. Christ would ask him, not to think himself perfect because he did not indulge in a sin that has not the least attraction for him, but to try and find out the sins that do “beset him,” and show his perfection--the strength of his character and the power of his faith--by overcoming them. It may be a temper that is not yet under his control--a querulous disposition that destroys the peace of his home--a spirit of fault finding and uncharitableness that mars the blessedness of all intercourse with him, and transforms even his very truths into falsehoods. Christ would have us adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in not one thing but in all things--have us show that it raises us above the vice of drunkenness, certainly, but also above that of malice, covetousness, selfishness, and all uncharitableness. But this, I repeat, is what too many professing Christians forget or overlook. Men are everywhere prone to make compromises in the matter of Christian duty--to hold, it may be, by the creed and forget the commandments, to think of the sins of others and forget their own, or cling to one virtue and make it to do duty for all the others. Let us be warned against this folly. Let us remember that our Christian faith, if it brings us light, lays on us also obligation; if it reveals the love of God towards us it reveals also what He requires of us. Let us remember how comprehensive is its scope, and how personal is its appeal to us. It is the spirit of a new life--a new life that must pervade our whole being and manifest its sanctifying presence in every act we do and every word we say. (W. Ewen, B. D.)

Verses 11-14

Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God that bringeth salvation

The gospel


What is here said of its nature.

1. The name. “The grace of God.”

2. The subject “Bringing salvation.”

3. The manifestation. “Hath appeared.”

(1) None are excluded from its benefits.

(2) None are exempt from its appointments.

Its influence.

1. How the gospel teaches.

(1) Precept.

(2) Example.

(3) Motive.

(4) Real and spiritual operation and efficiency.

2. What the gospel teaches.

(1) What it teaches us to deny? Ungodliness and worldly lusts.

(2) What it teaches us to do? “To live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.”

(3) What it teaches us to expect? “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

(4) What it teaches us to acknowledge? “Who gave Himself,” etc. (W. Jay.)

The gospel of the grace of God

Its distisguishing characteristics. “The grace of God.”

1. The gift.

2. Its objects.

3. Its purpose.

The universality of its appearance.

1. Adapted for all.

2. Revealed for all.

3. To be proclaimed to all.

The inestimable boon which it bestows. “Salvation.”

1. From the condemning power of sin.

2. From the defilement of sin.

3. From the love of sin.

4. From the power of sin.

5. From the punishment of sin.

Its practical influence. “Teaching us,” etc. The way of salvation is the highway of holiness and of purity; the unclean may not pass over it; and within the gates of the celestial City “there shall enter nothing that defileth, that worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie.” Wherever this gospel hath come, “in demonstration of the Spirit and with power,” it hath swept away the obscure and execrable rites, the foul abominations, the detestable practices of paganism. Wherever this gospel hath come “in demonstration of the Spirit and with power,” it hath purified the polluted, it hath made the dishonest honest, the intemperate sober, the licentious chaste. It has converted the monster of depravity into the humble, correct, consistent, temperate disciple of Christ. The abandoned woman it has purified and refined; and he who was at once the disgrace, the dishonour, of his family, of society, and of his country, renewed, reformed, sanctified, made holy, it has placed at the feet of the Redeemer, like the recovered maniac, “clothed and in his right mind.” (T. Raffles, D. D.)

The extensiveness of the gospel offers

That the message which Jesus was anointed to deliver emanated from the sovereign goodness and everlasting mercy of Jehovah, whereby before all worlds He had devised a plan for the restoration of ruined man, and contains a revelation of His will, is a truth at once most animating and important. It is a firm conviction of this momentous truth which induces the believer to set a proper value on the gospel as the message of glad tidings of great joy.

Our thoughts are directed, first, to the source of the gospel, and that source is the grace of God. The proper signification of the word “grace” is favour--unmerited goodness and mercy in a superior conferring benefit upon others. The grace spoken of in the text is the revelation of the Divine will set forth in the gospel, which, in the strictest sense, may be termed “the grace of God”; it being a revelation to which man had no title, setting forth promises of which man was utterly unworthy, unfolding a plan of redemption which man had no reason to expect. This grace “bringeth salvation.” Herein consists its importance. “What shall I do to be saved?” “What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life?” “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” These are vitally important questions--questions which will frequently present themselves even to the most careless, and they can be satisfactorily answered in the gospel alone. The gospel bringeth salvation, for it points out to man the means of his recovery from guilt and degradation. This salvation is complete and infinite, including all the blessings of the everlasting covenant--that covenant which displays to us the mercy and love of God the Father; the benefits of the incarnation, life, crucifixion, ascension, and intercession of God the Son; and all the enlightening, enlivening, and sanctifying influences of God the Holy Ghost. In the possession of these consists our salvation. The gospel directs man to a Saviour who has promised, and is able and willing, to bestow any blessing upon those who believe in Him: it promises pardon, reconciliation, peace; it unfolds the glories of the eternal world; and it invites and stimulates the sinner to strive, through grace, to become meet for the heavenly inheritance.

Now consider the persons for whose benefit this grace of God hath appeared. The apostle says, “The grace of God, that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men”; or, according to the translation in the margin of our Bibles, “The grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared”; and this rendering I conceive to be the more correct. The gospel, then, is described as bringing salvation to all men; that is, as offering to all who accept it free and full remission of sin, through the blood of the Lord Jesus; as opening to all believers the gate of the kingdom of heaven. The gospel is precisely suited for all the wants of a fallen sinner; it meets him in the hour of difficulty; and, consequently, its offers of mercy are addressed to every sinner. In the manifestation of Jesus to the wise men, who came from the east to worship Him; in the prophetic declaration of the aged Simeon, that the Child whom he took up in his arms should be a light to lighten the Gentiles; in the rending of the veil of the temple, when Jesus had given up the ghost; in the unlimited commission “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”; and in their qualification for this important work, by the miraculous gift of tongues, we discover that the new dispensation was designed for the spiritual and eternal benefit of the whole human race. The rich dispensation of mercy revealed in the gospel beautifully illustrates the gracious character of our heavenly Father. It is calculated to remove all erroneous views of His attributes, His mercy, His compassion, His tenderness towards the works of His hands. Why that gospel should not have been clearly manifested for so many ages after the fall of man--why eighteen centuries should have elapsed, and millions of our fellow creatures should still be immersed in the gross darkness of heathen superstition--is one of those secret things which belong to the Lord our God. It is not our province to sit in judgment on the wisdom of Jehovah’s plans to weigh the wisdom of Jehovah’s counsels; neither are we to seek to pry into the mysterious dealings of His providence. We are, rather, thankfully to acknowledge the blessings bestowed upon ourselves, and earnestly seek to improve them to the uttermost; recollecting that responsibility is commensurate with privilege. (T. Bissland, M. A.)

The grace of God

The original first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is orate.

1. Survey all the blessings of the covenant, and from first to last you will see grace doth all. Election, vocation, justification, sanctification, glorification, all is from grace.

2. To limit the point. Though it is of grace, yet not to exclude Christ, not to exclude the means of salvation.

3. My next work shall be to give you some reasons why it must be so that grace is the original cause of all the blessings we receive from God; because it is most for the glory of God, and most for the comfort of the creature.

(1) It is most convenient for the glory of God to keep up the respects of the creature to Him in a way suitable to His majesty.

(2) It is most for the comfort of the creature. Grace is the original cause of all the good we expect and receive from God, that we may seek the favour of God with hope and retain it with certainty.

Grace in the discoveries of the gospel hath shined out in a greater brightness than ever it did before.

1. What a darkness there was before the eternal gospel was brought out of the bosom of God. There was a darkness both among Jews and Gentiles. In the greatest part of the world there was utter darkness as to the knowledge of grace, and in the Church nothing but shadows and figures.

2. What and how much of grace is now discovered? I answer

(1) The wisdom of grace. The gospel is a mere riddle to carnal reason, a great mystery (1 Timothy 3:16).

(2) The freeness of grace both in giving and accepting.

(3) The efficacy and power of grace.

(4) The largeness and bounty of grace.

(5) The sureness of grace.

The grace of God revealed in the gospel is the great means of salvation, or a grace that tends to salvation.

1. It hath a moral tendency that way; for there is the history of salvation what God hath done on His part; there are the counsels of salvation what we must do on our part; and there are excellent enforcements to encourage us to embrace this salvation.

2. Because it hath the promise of the Spirit’s assistance (Romans 1:16). The gospel is said to be “the power of God unto salvation,” not only because it is a powerful instrument which God hath appropriated to this work, but this is the honour God puts upon the gospel that He will join and associate the operation of His Spirit with no other doctrine but this.

This salvation which the grace of God bringeth is free for all that will accept it. God excludes none but those that exclude themselves. It is said to appear to all men

1. Because it is published to all sorts of men; they all have a like favour in the general offer (John 6:37).

2. All that accept have a like privilege; therefore this grace is said to appear to all men. There is no difference of nations, nor of conditions of life, nor of lesser opinions in religion, nor of degrees of grace. See all summed up by the apostle (Colossians 3:11). (T. Manton, D. D.)

The Epiphany and mission of grace

To this important statement the apostle is led up by the consideration of certain very homely and practical duties which fall to the lot of Christians in various walks of life, and these matters he refers to as “the things pertaining to sound doctrine.” He has a word of practical counsel for several distinct classes of persons; for he knows the wisdom of being definite. In the connection indicated by that little word “for” we have both an introduction to, and a striking illustration of, the great truth that the passage is designed to set forth. It is the gospel with its wondrous revelation of grace that is to provide us with new and high incentives boa life of practical virtue and holiness. It is because we are not under the law, but under grace, that the righteousness of the law is to be fulfilled in us. To destroy the works of the devil, and to restore and perfect the grandest work of God on earth, was indeed an undertaking worthy of such conditions as the Incarnation and the atonement. The apostle speaks of grace itself before he proceeds to indicate the effects of grace, and of the first grand object and work of grace before he proceeds to enlarge upon its ulterior effects. He begins with the assertion that “the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared.” In these opening words, first our attention is invited to this central object, the grace of God, then to the fact of its epiphany or manifestation, and then to its first most necessary purpose and mission--the bringing of salvation within the reach of all men.

All true and evangelical religion must have its commencement in the apprehension of divine grace, and therefore it is of no small importance that we should endeavour clearly to understand what is denoted by the word. Divine grace, we may say, is the child of love and the parent of mercy. The essential love of the great Father’s heart takes definite form, and accommodates itself to our need; reveals itself in facts, and presents itself for our acceptance; and then we call it grace. That grace received rescues from the disastrous effects of sin; heals our inward diseases, and comforts our sorrows; and then we call it mercy. But grace does not exhaust itself in the production of mercy any more than love exhausts itself in the production of grace. The child leads us back to the parent; the experience of mercy leads us back to that “grace wherein we stand”; and the enjoyment of grace prepares us for the life of love, and for that wondrous reciprocity of affection in which the heavenly Bridegroom and His Bride are to be bound together forever. Thus of the three mercy ever reaches the heart first; and it is through accepted mercy that we apprehend revealed grace; similarly it is through the revelations of grace that we learn the secret of eternal love. And as with the individual so with mankind at large. Mercy, swift-winged mercy, was the first celestial messenger that reached a sin-stricken world; and in former dispensations it was with mercy that men had most to do. But if former dispensations were dispensations of mercy, the present is preeminently the dispensation of grace, in which it is our privilege not only to receive mercy, but to apprehend the attitude of God towards us from which the mercy flows. But let us remember that though specially revealed to us now, the grace of God towards humanity has existed from the very first. The Lamb was slain in the Divine foreknowledge before the foundation of the world. But the grace of God has in it a further and higher object than the mere provision of a remedy for human sin--than what is merely remedial. God has purposed in His own free favour towards mankind to raise man to a position of moral exaltation and glory, the very highest, so far as we know, that can be occupied or aspired to by a created intelligence. Such is the destiny of humanity. This is the singular favour which God designs for the sons of men. God’s favour flows forth to other intelligences also, but not to the same degree, and it is not manifested after the same fashion. This eternal purpose of God, however, which has run through the long ages, was not fully revealed to the sons of men until the fulness of time arrived. It was revealed only in parts and in fragments, so to speak. From Adam to John the Baptist every man that ever went to heaven went there by the grace of God. The grace of God has constantly been in operation, but it was operating in a concealed fashion. Even those who were the subjects of Divine grace seem scarcely to have known how it reached them, or in what manner they were to be affected by any provision that it might make to meet their human sins. Before the full favour of God could be revealed to mankind it would seem to have been necessary first of all that man should be put under a disciplinary training, which should induce within him a conviction of the necessity for the intervention of that favour, and dispose him to value it when it came. Grace, we have already said, is the child of love and the parent of mercy. We discover now that the love of God is not a passive, inert possibility, but a living power that takes to itself definite form, and hastens to meet and overcome the forces of evil to which we owe our ruin.

But further, the apostle not only calls our attention to Divine grace, but he proceeds to state with great emphasis that it has appeared or been made manifest. We are no longer left in doubt as to its existence, or permitted to enjoy its benefits without knowing whence they flow. In order to be manifested, the grace of God needed not only to be affirmed, but to be illustrated, I may say demonstrated, and then only was man called upon to believe in it. It might have been written large enough for all the world to see, that God was love. It might have been blazoned upon the starry heavens so that every eye might have read the wondrous sentence, and yet I apprehend we should have been slow to grasp the truth which the words contain, had they not been brought within reach of our finite apprehension in concrete form in the personal history, in the life, in the action, in the sorrow, in the death of God’s own Son. When I turn my gaze towards the person of Christ I am at liberty to doubt God’s favour towards me no longer. I read it in every action, I discover it in every word. Here is the first thought that brings rest to the heart of man. It has been demonstrated by the Incarnation and by the Atonement, that God’s attitude on His side towards us is already one of free favour--favour toward all, however far we may have fallen, and however undeserving we may be in ourselves. You often hear people talking about making their peace with God. Well, the phrase may be used to indicate what is perfectly correct, but the expression in itself is most incorrect, for peace with God is already made. God’s attitude towards us is already an assured thing. We have no occasion to go about to ask ourselves, “How shall we win God’s favour?” It is possible for a person to be full of friendly intentions to me, and yet for me to retain an attitude of animosity and enmity towards him. That does not alter his character towards me, or his attitude towards me; but it does prevent me from reaping any benefit from that attitude. And so, I repeat, the only point of uncertainty lies in our attitude towards God, not in His attitude towards us.

Thus the apostle affirms that this grace of God ‘‘bringeth salvation to every man.” Yes, God’s free favour, manifested in the person of His own blessed Son, is designed to produce saving effects upon all. God makes no exception, excludes none. All are not saved. But why not? Not because the grace of God does not bring salvation to every man, but because all men do not receive the gift which the grace of God has brought to them. There are necessarily two parties to such a transaction. Before any benefit can accrue from a gift there must be a willingness on the one side to give, and a willingness on the other side to receive, and unless there be both of these conditions realised no satisfactory result can ensue. Here then is a question for us all: What has the grace of God, which is designed to have a saving effect upon all men, done for us? Has it saved us, or only enhanced our condemnation? Now we maintain that the enjoyment of the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins is needed before our experience can assume a definitely Christian form. The first thing that grace does is to bring salvation to me; and until I accept this I am not in a position to accept her other gifts. Grace cannot teach until I am in a position to learn, and I am not in a position to learn until I am relieved from anxiety and fear as to my spiritual condition. Go into yonder prison, and set that wretched felon in the condemned cell to undertake some literary work, if he is a literary man. Put the pen into his hand, place the ink and the paper before him. He flings down the pen in disgust. How can he set to work to write a history or to compose a romance, however talented or gifted he may be by nature, so long as the hangman’s rope is over his head and the prospect of a coming execution staring him in the face? Obviously the man’s thoughts are all in another direction--the question of his own personal safety preoccupies his mind. Give him that pen and paper to write letters which he thinks may influence persons in high quarters with a view to obtaining a reprieve, and his pen will move quickly enough. I can understand his filling up reams of paper on that subject, but not on any other. Is it likely that a God who has shown His favour towards us by the gift of His own Son should desire to keep us in uncertainty as to the effects of that grace upon our own case? Does not the very fact, that it is grace that has brought salvation to us, render it certain that it must be in the mind of God that we should have the full enjoyment of it? Let us rather ask, how can we obtain this knowledge of salvation, this inward conviction that all is well? The answer is a very simple one. Grace brings salvation within our reach as something designed for us. Not to tantalize us by exciting desires destined never to be realised, but in order that we may have the full benefit of it--the free favour of God has brought salvation within our reach to the very doors of our hearts. Surely we dishonour God when we for a moment suppose that He does not intend us to enjoy the blessing which His grace brings to us. All the deep and precious lessons that grace has to teach are, we may say, simply so many deductions from the first great object lesson--Calvary. It is through the Cross of Christ that the grace of God hath reached a sinful world; it is on the Cross that grace is revealed and by that Cross that its reality is demonstrated. But we may also add that it is in the Cross that grace lies hidden. Yes, it is all there; but faith has to search the storehouse and examine the hidden treasure, and find out more and more of the completeness of that great salvation which the grace of God has brought within our reach; nor shall we ever know fully all that has thus been brought within our reach until we find ourselves saved at last with an everlasting salvation--saved from all approach of evil or danger into that kingdom of glory which grace has opened to all believers. (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

The grace of God in bringing salvation to all men

The origin of salvation.

1. Man did not deserve it.

2. It was unsolicited.

3. It was entirely the result of Divine grace.

The grace of God

(1) Made all the arrangements necessary for salvation. Devised the astounding plan. Fixed upon the means, time, etc. The grace of God

(2) Brought the author of salvation. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc. (2 Corinthians 8:9).

(3) It brought the message of salvation. Gospel is emphatically the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

(4) It brings the application of salvation to the soul. We are called by His grace--justified freely by His grace--sanctified by His grace--kept and preserved by tits grace--and the topstone is brought on amid ascriptions of Grace, grace unto it.”

The extent of salvation. The grace of God bringeth salvation

1. To all classes and degrees of men. To the rich and the poor; noble and ignoble; monarch and the peasant; the ruler and the slave.

2. To men of all grades of moral guilt. It includes the moralist, and excludes not the profane.

3. To men of all ages.

The influence of salvation on the moral character of man. It teaches and enforces the necessity of

1. The abandonment of ungodliness and worldly lusts.

2. Sobriety of conduct.

3. Righteousness of life.

4. Godliness of heart.


1. How we should rejoice in the riches and fulness of Divine grace.

2. How necessary that we cordially receive the invaluable boon it presents.

3. And how important that we practically exemplify the moral lessons it communicates. (J. Burns, D. D.)

The gospel described

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.

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.

3. The clear light and evidence that it does hold forth this message in and by; it has appeared or shined forth like the day star or the rising sun.

4. The extent of its glorious beams, how far they reach. 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 in reference to the degree of their graces.

5. The great lesson which the gospel teaches, negative and positive.

(a) 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.

(b) 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 godly, not disjunctively; as if to live soberly, righteously, or in pretence godly, 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) Godly, godliness has 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, 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.

6. The time when and the place where this lesson is to be learned, in this present world. Here is the place, and now is the time when this duty of living soberly, righteously, and godly 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. (W. Burkitt, M. A.)

The grace of God

Although the doctrine of the Churches of the Old and New Testament be the very selfsame in regard

1. Of the author, who is God;

2. Substance and matter, which is perfect righteousness required in both;

3. Scope and end to the justification of a sinner before God; yet are there diverse accidental differences between them which, that we may the better understand both the offices and the benefits by Christ, are meet to be known.

Some of them we shall note out of these words as we shall come unto them.

(1) The first difference is in that the gospel is called grace, which word the law acknowledgeth not; nay, these two are opposed, to be under the law and to be under grace. To be under the law is not to be under it as a rule of life, for so all believers on earth, yea the saints and angels in heaven, are under it; but to be under the yoke of it, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. For to omit the least part of the yoke, standing in the observation of

1. Many,

2. Costly,

3. Laborious,

4. Burdensome ceremonies,

what a killing letter is the law which commandeth inward and perfect righteousness, for nature and actions, and that in our own persons? which promiseth life upon no other condition but of works, “Do this, and live”; and these must be such as must be framed according to that perfect light and holiness of nature in which we are created, which wrappeth us under the curse of sin. Now to be under grace is to be freed from all this bondage; not only from those elements and rudiments of the world, but especially

1. When the yoke of personal obedience to justification is by grace translated from believers to the person of Christ our surety, so that He doing the law we might live by it.

2. When duties are not urged according to our perfect estate of creation, but according to the present measure of grace received; not according to full and perfect righteousness, but according to the sincerity and truth of the heart, although from weak and imperfect faith and love: not as meriting anything, but only as testifying the truth of our conversion, in all which the Lord of His grace accepteth the will for the deed done.

3. When the most heavy curse of the law is removed from our weak shoulders and laid upon the back of Jesus Christ, even as His obedience is translated unto us, and thus there is no condemnation to those that are in Him.

4. When the strength of the law is abated so as believers may send it to Christ for performance, for it cannot vex us as before the ministry of grace it could; which is another law, namely of faith, to which we are bound, the which not only can command us as the former, but also give grace and power to obey and perform in some acceptable sort the commandment. And this is the doctrine of grace which we are made partakers of. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Genuine Christianity

A true and graphic outline of doctrine essential to salvation.

1. How ancient the purpose of this grace.

2. How great and glorious its nature.

3. How benignant its design.

4. How unrestricted its manifestation.

A view of those works which accompany salvation.

1. Vigilant self-denial.

2. The right governance of the moral relations of life.

Motives by which combined faith and obedience may be sustained and enforced.

1. The temporary nature of the discipline.

2. The self-sacrifice of Christ.

3. The future manifestation of Christ. (Jas. Foster, B. A.)

The soul culture of the world

The instrument of true soul culture. “The grace of God,” i.e., the gospel.

1. It is the love of God.

2. The love of God to save.

3. The love of God revealed to all.

The process of true soul culture.

1. The renunciation of a wrong course.

2. The adoption of a right course.

3. The fixing of the heart upon a glorious future.

The end of true soul culture.

1. Moral redemption.

2. Spiritual restoration to Christ.

3. Complete devotedness to holy labour.

4. The self-sacrifice of Christ. His gift teaches the enormity of moral evil. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The soul’s rest

When the illustrious, learned, and wealthy John Selden was dying, he said to Archbishop Usher, “I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts (he had 8,000 volumes in his library) on various subjects; but at present I cannot recollect any passage out of all my books and papers whereon I can rest my soul, save this from the sacred Scriptures: ‘The grace of God that bringeth salvation,’” etc.

Hath appeared to all men

Love made visible

The apostle sets forth, as the foundation of all, the appearance of the grace of God. Grace, the theological term which, to many of us, sounds so cold and unreal and remote, is all throbbing with tenderness and warm with life if we understand what it means. It means the pulsation of the heart of God pouring a tide of gracious love on sinful men, who do not deserve one drop of it to fall upon them, and who dwell so far beneath His loftiness that the love is made still more wonderful by the condescension which makes it possible. The lofty loves the low, and the love is grace. The righteous loves the sinful, and the love is grace. Then, says my text, there is something which has made this Divine love of God, so wonderful in its loftiness, and equally wonderful in its passing by men’s sinfulness, visible to men. The grace, has “appeared.” Scientists can make sounds visible by the symmetrical lines into which heaps of sand upon a bit of paper are cast by the vibration of a string. God has made invisible love plain to the sight of all men, because He has sent us His Son.

Notice the universal sweep of this grace. The words should be read, “The grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared.” It brings salvation to all men. It does not follow from that, that all men take the salvation which it brings. Notice the underlying theory of a universal need that lies in these words. The grace brings salvation to all men, because all men need that more than any thing else. In the notion of salvation there lies the two ideas of danger and of disease. It is healing and it is safety; therefore, if it be offered to all, it is because all men are sick of a sore disease, and stand in imminent and deadly peril. That is the only theory of men’s deepest need which is true to the facts of human existence.

Notice the great work of this grace made visible. It seems to be a wonderful descent from “the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all hath appeared” to “teaching us.” Is that all? Is that worth much? If by “teaching” we mean merely a reiteration in words, addressed to the understanding or the heart, of the great principles of morality and conduct, it is a very poor thing, and a tremendous come down from the apostle’s previous words. Such an office is not what the world wants. To try to cure the world’s evils by teaching, in that narrow sense of the expression, is something like trying to put a fire out by reading the Riot Act to the flames. You want fire engines, and not paper proclamations, in order to stay their devouring course. But it is to be noticed that the expression here, in the original, means a great deal more than that kind of teaching. It means correcting, or chastening. Our Physician has in His great medicine chest balm and bandages for all wounds. But He has also a terrible array of gleaming blades with sharp edges, and of materials for cauterising and burning away proud flesh. And if ever we are to be made good and pure, as God wants to make us, it must be through a discipline that will often be agony, and will often be pain, and against the grain. For the one thing that God wants to do with men is to bring their wills into entire harmony with His. And we cannot have that done without much treatment which will inflict in love beneficent pain. No man can live beside that Lord without being rebuked moment by moment, and put to wholesome shame day by day, when he contrasts himself with that serene and radiant pattern and embodiment of all perfection. And no man can receive into his heart the powers of the world to come, the might of an indwelling Spirit, without that Spirit exercising as its first function that which Christ Himself told us it would perform (John 16:8). (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The universal offer of salvation

Salvation is offered to all men

Irrespective of their varying moral conditions. Though “all have sinned,” yet all are not sinners in the same degree, or after the same fashion. Sinners are of many kinds--young, old, beginners in offences, hardened in crime, sinners through ignorance, against light, etc.

Because all men need it. God recognises degrees of guilt and punishes “according to transgression.” There are “few stripes” and “many stripes”; yet all need salvation, and all men may have it.

Because God loves all. He is no respecter of persons, and has no delight in the death of him that dieth. “God so loved the world,” etc.

Because Christ died for all. (F. Wagstaff.)

The gospel for all sorts of men

It bringeth salvation to all men, that is, all kinds and conditions of men, not to every particular or singular of the kinds, but to all the sorts and kinds of men, to servants as well as masters, to Gentile as well as Jew, to poor as well as rich. Thus is it said that God would have all men saved, that is, of all sorts of men some. So Christ healed all diseases, that is, all kinds of diseases; and the Pharisees tithed all herbs, that is, all kinds; for they took not every particular herb for tithe, but took the tenth of every kind, and not the tenth of every herb. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

The grace of salvation appearing to all men

The grace of God is the prime mover in the work of salvation. It “bringeth salvation.” Man had nothing to pay for it, and man could not merit it.

But in what respects does the grace of God bring salvation? Here we remark generally, that it brought it forward in the decree from everlasting. Again, the grace of God brought salvation forward another stage, by publishing the promise of it to man after his ruinous fall. This promise was to be the ground of man’s faith and hope in God; and these graces were necessary for giving sinners an interest in the Divine salvation. The grace of God advanced salvation work still further when it brought the First-begotten into the world. It was on this occasion that it was purchased. To gain it, Christ had to sustain the rejections of men, the malice and wrath of evil spirits, and the wrath of His heavenly Father. No less conspicuous is the grace of God in applying to the soul the benefits of purchased redemption. It is not when persons have ceased from the love and commission of sin, that the Holy Spirit comes with power to call them effectually, and to unite them to the Lord Jesus Christ. No; He addresses Himself to His work when sinners are dead in trespasses and in sins--alienated from the life of God--without God and without hope in the world. But there is still another stage of the grace of God that bringeth salvation, and it is the time when Christ will raise His people from the dead, and make them sit visibly as they now sit representatively in heavenly places with Himself.

We shall now turn your attention to the nature of the salvation which the grace of God thus brings to sinners. And here you will notice in general that the term salvation implies a state of danger, or of actual immersion in suffering; and denotes the averting of the danger, or the deliverance from the suffering. We say of a man who has been delivered from a house on fire, that he has been saved. We also assert of him who has been drawn from a shipwreck and brought in life to land, that he has been saved, And in like manner, we affirm in regard to the man who has been set free from transgression and its train of consequences, that he has obtained salvation. More particularly, you will observe

1. That it is a salvation from the guilt of sin.

2. It includes deliverance from the defilement of sin.

3. Deliverance from the power of sin.

4. Deliverance from the very being of sin.

5. Liberation from the curse of God.

6. Freedom from the wrath of God.

We have thus given you an outline of the salvation spoken of in the text, we shall now inquire in what respects it appears to all men. There is one class of persons to whom salvation does more than appear; for they shall enjoy it in all its length and breadth. The chosen of God shall be set free from the guilt, the power, and being of sin, and redeemed from the wrath and curse of God. But there are some respects in which the salvation which they enjoy, presents itself to the view of others, who trover come to the actual enjoyment of its precious blessings.

1. The grace that bringeth salvation appears to all, because time and space are given them for seeking and obtaining it.

2. The grace of salvation appears to all in the inspired Word and appointed ordinances.

3. The grace of salvation appears to all, inasmuch as mercy is offered to them with out distinction.

4. The grace that bringeth salvation appears to all, in the common operations of the Holy Spirit. From our subject see

(1) Ground for accepting the salvation of the gospel.

(2) Learn reason to fear lest we should not enter the heavenly rest through unbelief.

(3) Ground of gratitude on the part of the people of God. They are distinguished above the rest of mankind. While salvation appears to others, it is possessed and enjoyed by them. We now propose

To inquire into what is meant by the terms “all men.” As to the import of the terms “all men,” you will observe

1. That they cannot mean every individual of our race. It is matter of fact that many, both in the days of the apostles were, and in our own time are, wholly unenlightened by the good news of salvation.

2. The grace of God appears to men of all countries. This is no contradiction of what we formerly said; for although salvation has not yet been shown to all the individuals of our race, yet some of almost every kingdom under heaven have been made acquainted with the gospel of God’s Son; and it is matter of promise that all the ends of the earth shall yet see the salvation of our God.

3. The grace of God appears to all kinds of men. None are excluded from it who do not exclude them selves. It is presented to persons of all ages and all ranks, to men of every kind of culture and attainment. Nor does the gospel inquire into a man’s character, in order to discover whether he is entitled to salvation. Grace is offered to the moral and immoral--to the virtuous and the vicious.

We are now to investigate the respects in which the grace of God appears to men in general. Our text does not assert that the grace of God is enjoyed by all, but only that it appears to them. They behold in somewhat the same manner as Balaam said he would see the star that was to arise out of Judah: “I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh.” It is but a distant sight that the unregenerate obtain of the grace of salvation. It appears to them as a beauteous and glowing star in the remote horizon, which they may admire, but do not reach.

1. Time and space are given them for accepting salvation.

2. The grace of God appears to men in general in their enjoyment of Divine ordinances. Ordinances are the appointed means of salvation. They are not effectual of themselves to the communication of saving benefit; but they are the medium through which spiritual blessings are im parted.

3. The grace of God appears to all in the offer of salvation to every individual.

4. The grace of God appears to men in general in the common operations of the Spirit.

5. The grace of God appears to men in general in the impressions of Divine truth upon the heart.

(1) What a great privilege is possessed by the hearers of the gospel.

(2) Reason for great anxiety. Look after the evidences of your real Christianity. (A. Ross, M. A.)

All men must come to the grace of salvation

The American officer who was appointed to measure the boundaries of Mexico and the United States tells us touchingly that the springs which occur at intervals of sixty or a hundred miles apart in the desert are perforce the meeting places of life. All living creatures must gather there or die in an agony of thirst. There comes the American panther, and laps luxuriously the stream beside the timid hare--the one tamed by thirst, the other made brave by thirst; and there come the traveller and the trader and light the campfire beside the wigwam of the scalp-clothed warrior of the prairie, civilised by thirst; they quaff the waters together. So the waters of life should be resorted to by all mankind. Teaching us that denying ungodliness

Grace our teacher

The apostle proceeds to state that grace not only saves but undertakes our training; and this, of course, is a life-long work, a work that will only be concluded when grace ends in glory. Now, obviously, if this work is to be done as it should be done, the soul must, first of all, be in a position to receive teaching. If grace is really to undertake our training, and to teach us such lessons as only grace can teach, surely she must first of all calm the tumultuous misgivings which fill our hearts; and until grace has done this for us, how can she instruct us? If I am learning my lesson with a view to obtain grace, it cannot be grace that is acting the part of the teacher, for she can only teach where she has been already obtained. Grace cannot at one and the same moment be my teacher, and also that to obtain which I am being taught, for this, of course, involves a contradiction in terms. Hence, as we have said, unless this first point be settled, and we know that we are in the enjoyment of God’s salvation, we are not in a position to learn from grace, whoever else it be that we may learn from. And thus it comes to pass, as a matter of simple fact, that a large number of nominal Christians are taught, indeed, after a certain fashion, but they are not taught by grace. They seek to learn of Christ in order that they may obtain the grace of Christ; they endeavour to become conformed to Christ in order that their resemblance to Christ may dispose the heart of God to regard them with the same favourable consideration which He bestowed on Him whom they seek to resemble. Such persons are under the law. Grace, then, is to be our instructress, and she has plenty of work before her in the training and preparation of the human subject for the glorious destiny which lies before him. Then only is it possible, after the adoption has taken place, for the education to begin. With these thoughts in our mind we will proceed to consider grace as our teacher, and first we will point out the contrast between the training of grace and the operation of law. Before the grace of God appeared men were under another teacher, and his name was “Law.” Grace is our teacher, and she teaches us far more powerfully, far more efficiently, and far more perfectly than law can ever teach us. But observe, she will not share her office of teacher with law. The Christian is not to be a kind of spiritual mongrel, nor is his experience to be of a mongrel type--part legal, part spiritual, part savouring of bondage, part savouring of liberty: but the design of God is that we should stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and never allow ourselves, even for a moment, to be entangled in a yoke of bondage. How many Christians are there who never seem to have perceived that we are no more to be saved by grace and then trained by law, than we are to be saved by law and then trained by grace? How many who need to learn that as we are to be saved by grace at first, so we are to be trained by grace afterwards, until at last the cornerstone is raised upon the wondrous structure which only grace has reared, amidst shouts of “Grace, grace unto it!” All is of grace from first to last. Now in order that we may very clearly apprehend what the teaching of God’s word is on this subject, let us just put side by side the teaching of law and the teaching of grace, contrasting them one with the other, and then we shall see how much to the advantage of grace the contrast is. Grace teaches better than law.

1. She teaches better than law, first, because she delivers to us a fuller and more distinct exhibition of the mind and will of God as regards human conduct, based upon a more complete manifestation of the Divine character. Grace, as she takes possession of our heart, makes us acquainted with the mind and will of God in a manner in which we should never have become acquainted with these by the mere influence and teaching of law. If you reflect for a moment, you will see that the object of law is not to reveal the mind and the will of the Lawgiver, but to lay down certain positive precepts for the direction of those to whom the legislation is given, or for whom the legislation is designed. If an Act of Parliament is passed by the British Legislature, by both Houses of Parliament, and a person were to ask, “What is the object of this Act?” nobody would reply, “To reveal to the British public what is the mind and will of the members of our Legislature.” Nothing of the kind. The object of the Act is to meet some specific political need, or to give some specific political direction to those who are subject to its authority. Even so the law delivered from Sinai was not primarily designed to reveal the mind and will of God. The law contained only a very partial revelation of the mind and will of God. The law consisted of certain positive precepts, which were given in the infancy of the human race for the direction and guidance of mankind. The rules and precepts which are laid down in the nursery are not designed to exhibit the mind and will of the parent, although they are in accordance with that mind and will. They are laid down for the convenience and for the benefit of those for whom the rules were made. A child knows something of the mind and will of the parent from personal contact with that parent, but not from the rules, or only to a very slender degree from the rules, which are laid down for its guidance. But when we turn from law to grace, then we see at once that we now are dealing with a revelation of the mind and the will of Him from whom the grace proceeds. Each act of favour which a parent bestows upon his child, or which a sovereign bestows upon his subject, is a revelation, so far as it goes, of the mind and will of the parent towards that particular child, or of the sovereign towards that particular subject, as the case may be. And even so every act of grace which we receive from God is a revelation, as far as it goes, of the mind and will of God towards us who are affected by the act.

2. Not only is the teaching of grace in itself fuller and more complete, but we are still more impressed by the superiority of the mode in which the teaching is given--the form in which this new doctrine is communicated. In the decalogue you are met with, “Thou shalt,” or, “Thou shalt not”--and you observe at once that the command addresses itself directly to your will. Children are not appealed to so far as their understandings are concerned. They are told to act in a certain particular way, or not to act in a certain particular way; and if a child stops to reason with its parents, an appeal is at once made to parental authority. “Your duty, my child, is to obey, not to understand.” Or, once again, the decalogue makes no appeal to the affections of those to whom it was delivered; it deals not with our moral states, or with the motives from which actions proceed; it simply concerns itself with those actions, and speaks to the will which is responsible for them. But when we turn from the decalogue to the sermon on the mount we find that all is changed. It does not begin with a direct appeal to the will, and yet the will is touched by a stronger influence, and moved to action by a more mighty force, than ever operated upon the will of the Israelites at Sinai. Grace is our teacher; and we observe that the first word that she utters in this lesson is a blessing. The law had summed up its all of teaching with a curse “Cursed is he that continueth not in all things that are written in this book to do them.”

2. She does not say, “Ye shall be blessed if ye will become poor in spirit.” Grace drives no bargains; but she explains to us that a state of experience from which most of us would naturally shrink is a state of actual blessedness. Here you will observe that she appeals to our enlightened understanding, indicating to us a new and a higher view of self-interest, showing that God’s will, so far from being opposed to our truest well-being, is in complete and full harmony with it; for He is our Father, and He loves us, and therefore desires to see us supremely happy like Himself. Does she not teach better than law? Once again. Not only does she teach by giving us a fuller and a deeper revelation of the mind and will of God, and exhibiting these to us in such a way as that she appeals not merely to our own will, demanding action, but to our understanding, and, through our understanding, to our feelings, kindling holy desires, and so setting the will at work almost before it is aware that it is working; but she does more than all this.

3. Grace teaches us by setting before our eyes the noblest and the most striking of all exemplars. Grace speaks to us through human lips; grace reveals herself to us in a human life. Now we all know how much more we learn from a personal teacher than from mere abstract directions. To watch a painter, and to see how he uses his brush, and carefully and minutely notice the little touches that give so much character and power to the product of his genius, does far more for us in the way of making us painters than any amount of mere abstract study of the art itself. This in itself may suffice to show the superiority of grace as a teacher. While the thunder sounded from Sinai and the fiery law was given, God still remained concealed. When the yell was taken away, and God was made flesh in the person of Christ, human eyes were allowed to look at Him, and human ears heard the sound of His voice. Perfection stood before us at last in concrete form. When grace teaches us, she always teaches us by leading up to Christ--by exhibiting fresh views of His perfection, drawing out our heart in admiration towards Him. Happy they who thus set themselves to learn Christ as their life lesson, not as a mere duty--that is legality--but because they have fallen in love with Christ! Happy they who learn Christ just as the astronomer learns astronomy! Why does he study astronomy? Would a Newton tell you that he has spent all those hours in the careful examination of the phenomena of nature, or absorbed in profound mathematical calculations, because he thought it his duty to do it? And even so those who are under the teaching of grace learn Christ, not because they are under a legal obligation to learn Him, but because they are mastered by an enthusiastic admiration for the Divine object. There is a beauty in Christ which wins the heart. But grace does more than even this.

4. She not only sets before us the highest of all exemplars, but she establishes the closest possible relationship between that Exemplar and ourselves. Grace is not content with merely setting an example before us; she takes us by the hand and introduces us to the Exemplar, tells us not only that this Exemplar is content to be our friend, but, more wonderful still, that He is content to be one with us, uniting Himself to us, that His strength may be made perfect in our weakness. “Know ye not,” says grace, “that Christ is in you?” In you; not merely outside you as a source of power, not merely beside you as a faithful companion on life’s journey, but in you. “Christ is your life,” says grace. Do you prefer to be under the law? Do you really elect to be bondslaves? You say your prayers in the morning; it is your duty to do it. You do not feel comfortable if you do not say them. You go to church; but it is not because you love to go and cannot stay away, or because you want to know more and more of God, or delight in His worship. “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” You go because it is your habit. May God save us from such bondage as this! Let us remember that all the while that we are thus trifling there is within our reach, if we would but have it, the glorious liberty of the children of God. (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

Our teacher’s mode of teaching

You will observe that inasmuch as grace proposes to form Christ in our nature, she proceeds upon an altogether different method from that which is followed by law. Grace purposes to make the tree good, and then concludes, reasonably enough, that the fruit will be good; whereas law aims, so to speak, rather at improving the fruit than at regenerating the tree. Grace deals with the springs of action, and not primarily with action itself. She deals with actions, but deals with them only indirectly. She begins her beneficent operations by setting right that part of our nature from which actions proceed, and so, from first to last, grace is chiefly concerned with our motives, checking the sordid and the unworthy, and developing the noble and the godlike. Now, the contrast here lies between an outward objective law exhibited to the human understanding, claiming the homage of the will, and an inward and subjective law which becames part and parcel, so to speak, of the nature of him who receives it. Now it is by the teaching of grace that this new state of things is introduced; it is by the operation of grace that the Father’s Law is to be written upon the hearts of His once rebellious children. She effects this blessed result, first by opening up to us through His Son a revelation of the Father’s heart, and by showing us how deep and strong is His love towards us; in the second place, by sweeping away all obstacles between the Father’s love and our experience of it; and thus in the third place, by bringing our humanity under the mighty operation of the Holy Spirit of God, whose work it is to form within us the nature of Christ; and once again, in the fourth place, grace indelibly inscribes God’s law upon our hearts in the very terms of her own manifestation. For it is from the Cross that Grace is manifested and it is involved in the terms of its acceptance, that to the cross the eye of him who accepts it should be turned. We have just said that the first effect of grace is to reveal the Father’s love to us, and to sweep away all the barriers which interfere with our enjoyment of that love; by this first act of grace we are introduced into what may be described as the life of love--a life in which we are no longer influenced by mere considerations of moral or legal obligation. The love of God shed abroad in the heart, like the genial rays of the sun, produces a responsive love within us which is simply the refraction, so to speak, of those rays; and this love, the gospel teaches us, is the fulfilling of the law.

1. But love fulfils the law, not by a conscious effort to fulfil it, but because it is the voluntary response of the soul to the Person from whom the law has emanated. Love fulfils the law, not by commanding me to conform my conduct to a certain outward and objective standard, but by awakening within me a spiritual passion of devotion for the Person of Him whose will is law to those who love Him. Love knows nothing about mere restriction and repression--love seeks to please, not to abstain from displeasing; and so love fulfils, not merely abstains from breaking, the law. Thus we see that love takes us up to an altogether higher level than law. I cannot illustrate this point better than by referring for a moment to our earthly relationships to each other. There are certain laws which are applicable to these relationships. For instance, there are certain laws of our land, and there are certain laws contained in the Bible, which apply to the natural relationships of the father and of the husband. It is obviously the duty of the father and the husband to care for his wife and his children, to protect them, to provide for them, to endeavour to secure their well-being so far as in him lies. A man who occupies that relationship is bound to do not less than this. But does a really affectionate husband and father perform those various offices because the law constrains him to do so, because it is his legal duty to do them? Does he perform acts of tenderness towards his wife and towards his child because the law demands them of him? Even so the man whom grace has taught finds a new law within his nature, the law of love, in surrendering himself to which he fulfils indeed the outward and objective law, not because he makes an effort to fulfil it, but because he is true to his new nature. So that I may say, to put the thing concisely, grace is not opposed to law, but is superior to law; and the man who lives in grace lives not “under the law,” because he is above the law. We imprison the wife beater. Why? Because he has fallen from the level of love altogether, and thus he has come down to the level of the law, and is within the reach of the law. Even so here the only persons who are not under law are the persons who are above law. Is the law written within our hearts, or is it only revealed from without? In our attempt to do what is right, do we simply do, or endeavour to do, what is right because we have recognised a certain external standard of duty, and are endeavouring to conform our conduct to it? Or do we do what is right because we are living in happy, holy intercourse with an indwelling God in whose love we find our law, and in surrendering ourselves to the influence of whose love, our highest enjoyment? Herein lies the test of the difference between legal experience and evangelical experience.

2. But here let me point out that grace, whilst she teaches us gently and tenderly, and in a very different way from law, has nevertheless sanctions of her own. They are the rewards and punishments which are congruous to the life of love, whereas the rewards and punishments of legal experience are such as are congruous to the life of legal servitude. We shall detect in a moment what these sanctions are if we reflect upon the nature of our relation to Him who has now become to us our law of life. It is the glory of the life of love that we have something to love. Our love is not merely an empty abstraction, nor is it merely a wasted energy that wanders in infinity; it is attracted towards a living Person. In the enjoyment of His society, which to the real Christian is not a matter of sentiment, but a matter of practical experience, the soul finds its highest privilege. Ah! grace disciplines as well as teaches. She does not spoil her children. She is not like some fond and indulgent mother, who fancies that she is benefiting her children when she is really injuring them more cruelly than in any other way she possibly could, by always giving them their own way. Grace does not teach us to be negligent, thoughtless, heedless, careless. Grace does not whisper in our ears, “Now that you are saved once you are saved forever. Go on, and never mind what happens to you.” But grace teaches us very delicately. “I will guide thee,” says grace, “with my eye.” Grace teaches us. She brings out the scales of the sanctuary, and into the one she puts our worldly idol--our love of popularity, our self-seeking, our slothfulness, our self-indulgence, our pride of heart, all those little and great things which we are so apt to set against the society of Jesus, or rather which we are so apt to allow to come in between us and the society of Jesus. Yes, grace has her sanctions. And I am afraid that there are only too many Christians who have often to feel the force of those dread sanctions. Their whole life has come to be a clouded, unsatisfactory, melancholy, woebegone life. How many Christians are there of whom it cannot be said that the joy of the Lord is their strength! And why? They are under the discipline of grace. Yes, God does not forsake them altogether. He has not left them to their own waywardness, but He has visited their offences with the rod and their sin with scourges. They cannot be happy in the world since they have tasted something better in Christ. Nor can they be happy in Christ while they cast longing looks towards the world. But grace has also her rewards, and I love to think of them. What are they? The eye, perhaps, wanders on towards the future, and we think of the glories that are to be revealed. In this present world, amidst all the trials to which the Christian may be exposed, the school of grace has its prizes. Grace has her prizes. “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace.” Grace teaches indeed, but she teaches by first of all correcting, nay, by regenerating, the secret springs of our actions. Unless these are set right, how can our actions be right? How can you love God unless the love of God has conquered your heart? (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

The negative teaching of grace; the denial of ungodliness

Two things, it will be observed, exist in every physical organism--a mysterious inward energy or life power, and an inherent law of being, or condition of existence. Between these there can be no kind of contrariety or antagonism. We do not see life exerting its energies in defiance of the subjective laws of the organisms that it inhabits, nor do we see those laws fulfilled save by the inward energies of life. Even so the new creature in Christ Jesus has a certain law of being or condition of existence which properly belongs to him, and it is this that the Holy Spirit proceeds to fulfil, working out and forming in us a new nature in the image of Jesus Christ Himself. On the Cross our new life is purchased; but not the less on the Cross our old man is crucified. In the very act of extending mercy grace teaches her first great lesson. We are saved because we have died and risen again with Christ; but if so, we have already denied ungodliness and worldly lust. Let us observe, then, that this first lesson taught by grace is a negative lesson. Before teaching us what to do, she teaches us what we are to have done with; before introducing us into the positive blessedness of the new life, she first of all separates our connection with the old. This negation of the old must always come before the possession of the new; and unless our experience follow this order, we shall find that what we mistake for the new is not God’s new at all, but simply Satan’s travesty of God’s new creation. Let us not fail to observe that the apostle here speaks of our “denying ungodliness.” He does not speak of our combating ungodliness, or of our gradually progressing from a state of ungodliness into a state of godliness. “If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is” a new creature: old things are, passed away, and all things are become new. And all things are of God. It is a strong word, this word denial. Now it is upon this primary fact that grace bases her teaching. She may save, but does not undertake to train, the graceless. The only improvement of the old man that grace recognises is his legal execution; but this she teaches us has already taken place in the case of those who are in Christ Jesus. Let us ask ourselves, Are we in the habit of denying, or only of opposing? But before pursuing our consideration of the mode of denial, let us pause to contemplate the objects here spoken of as being denied, and we shall then be in a position to return to this point of denial and treat of it more fully. The first thing we are represented as denying is ungodliness. This sounds a very strong word, and I dare say at first most people would be disposed to affirm that they cannot be charged with this, whatever else they may be guilty of. They may not have been as good as they might, but ungodly they certainly have not been. We must endeavour to find out what ungodliness is. This is certainly important, because unless we understand what it is, it is impossible to deny it. Let me then begin by saying that ungodliness is the cardinal and root sin of the world. It was the first sin committed in the history of the world; and it was the parent of all other sins, and it is usually the first sin in the life of each individual, and equally the parent of all the sins that follow. In the happy early days of human history when man, created in God’s own image, was living in fellowship with his Creator, the characteristic of that pristine experience was doubtless godliness. But there came a change, a blight, a cloud, a darkness, a horror. What was it? The entrance of ungodliness. Here was man’s first temptation; and here came man’s first sin. It consisted in ungodliness or impiety, exhibited in a determination to put self in the place of God. So was it with the first sin, and so it has been with all its successors. Ungodliness, in one form or another, has been at the root of them all, and the deadly growth from this evil root has cast its baleful shadow over universal history. Now we are in a position to form some idea of what ungodliness really means.

1. Ungodliness consists, first of all, in the repudiation of God as the final cause of our being; that is to say, the end for which we live. A man is ungodly when he lives not for God. I do not care what outward complexion it wears. It may be the life of a zealous ritualist devoted to his party, or of an earnest churchman, or of a staunch protestant, or of a decided evangelical, or of a stout nonconformist; it makes no difference. Whatever complexion our outward life may wear, the man that is not consciously living for the glory of God is leading an ungodly life. He has fallen from the original position which belongs to man in relation to God.

2. The second characteristic of ungodliness will be exhibited in an indisposition on man’s part to take God as the efficient cause of all that he is or wishes to be. Ungodliness begins when we decline to live for God; ungodliness is developed in an incapacity or an indisposition to live by God. The apostle was describing a godly experience when he said, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “Man shall not live by bread alone.” He needs that. “As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that He have mercy upon us.” Is that the kind of life of dependence that we are leading, drawing all our strength for action from Him, receiving all our guidance in action through Him? Happy they who live thus.

3. The next characteristic of the life of ungodliness is that as, in the first place, man does not live for God; and as, in the second place, he does not live by God, so, in the third place, he does not live with God. He knows not what it is to enjoy the Divine society. The man that knows what it is to be godly--to “live godly in Christ Jesus”--finds that he cannot do without God at home any more than he can do without God at church; he cannot do without God in the place of business any more than he can do without God in his closet. He needs God. God has become a kind of necessity to him. Jesus always near, always dear, is more than life to those of us who really know Him. The godly live with God.

4. Once more, the ungodly life will not only be a life which is not lived for God, and not only a life which is not lived with God; but it will also be a life which is not lived in God, and a life in which God lives not in us. There is something more blessed even than living in the company of Jesus; and that is to know by faith that we live in Him, and to realise in our inmost experience the still more wonderful fact that He lives in us. But how does grace provide for this complete separation between us and this root sin, which seems to have become hereditary in the family of man? how does the denial of ungodliness take place? We seek an answer by referring to two remarkable expressions which fell from our blessed Master’s lips, shortly before His own passion. On that memorable occasion on which a supernatural voice responded to His prayer, “Father, glorify Thy name,” He proceeds to state, “Now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out,” Elsewhere He supplements these words by another similar statement. “When the Holy Ghost is come,” He says, “He will convict the world concerning judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Most mysterious though these utterances may seem they will be found to throw a good deal of light upon this particular subject. How is ungodliness to be denied? It is to be denied by recognising God’s judgment against it. The prince of this world is the very representative, as he is the author, of the world’s ungodliness. Satan succeeds in obtaining the worship of humanity in a thousand different forms. But, however we may serve him, he is judged. If we ask how and when, only one reply seems possible. Strange and paradoxical though it may seem, he is judged and condemned on Calvary, in the Person of Him who exhibited more than any other filial piety and true godliness. The ungodliness of the world, the revolt of human independence against Divine authority, is represented by the world victim upon the cross of Calvary, and meets in Christ with its proper doom. Against that world sin, against that ungodliness which is the root and source of every kind of iniquity, all the wrath of God has been already revealed. I discover it as I witness the dying agonies of Emmanuel. A godless world will not have God; by and by it shall not have Him. It turns its back upon God; God must needs turn His back upon it. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Surely this is the true explanation of that bitter cry that was wrung from the breaking heart of Emmanuel. There we see the judgment of the world passed upon the representative of the world’s sin, and it is because that judgment has expended itself on Him that there is therefore now no condemnation for those that are in Him. But, observe, it is only as our faith sees our ungodliness crucified there that we are in a position to enjoy this immunity from condemnation. We thus judge that He died for all, that we who live should not henceforth live to ourselves, but to Him who died for us and rose again. (W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

Grace and its lessons

The “saving grace of God which has appeared to all men” is described by the apostle as “teaching us,” or rather educating, training us in such a way as to secure the precious fruits that follow. It is a characteristic feature of the gospel that it does men good by putting them to school, by making them disciples, not simply for the purpose of communicating knowledge, but for that of forming and maturing character; for education in the highest, largest, and most emphatic sense. This pedagogical design of true religion is stamped upon all its institutions, and legible even in its phraseology. It is not by an unmeaning figure of speech that Christians are continually called disciples, that is, learners, pupils, and that the ministers of Christ are spoken of as teachers. The church is Christ’s school; he who enters it must enter as a learner, a disciple, with as real and sincere a deference to his great teacher as the little child feels, when it trembles for the first time in the presence of a master. Such submission is the more imperative in this case, because more truly than in any other case the process of instruction is moral as well as intellectual; it is not mere teaching, it is training, education; not the mere acquisition of knowledge, although that does lie at the foundation, but the cultivation of the powers and affections, as a preparation for the joys and services of heaven, as well as for the duties and the trials of this present state. The design and the legitimate effect of this disciplinary process are distinctly stated in the text, with reference both to the present and the future; both in a negative and positive form. The negative design of all this training is that we deny, repudiate, or abjure allegiance to the sinful dispositions and affections which are paramount in fallen nature, but the objects of which perish in the using, being limited to this world, so that they may be described as “worldly lusts” or desires, and may be said, so far as they predominate, to put man on a level with the brutes, whose highest good is present enjoyment of the lowest kind. By all who would be saved, these worldly, temporal, and short-lived lusts must be denied, renounced; and this is never done without a simultaneous or previous denial of ungodliness, of all indifference and enmity to God, which is indeed the source of the other, for when human hearts are right towards God, the paramount control of worldly lusts becomes impossible. This, however, is only the negative part of the effect produced by the spiritual discipline to which we are subjected in the school of Christ. It has a positive side also. It teaches us how we are to live. In reference to himself, the true disciple in this school is educated to be sober or sound minded; the original expression denotes sanity as opposed to madness, not in its extreme forms merely, but in all its more familiar and less violent gradations--all those numberless and nameless aberrations of the judgment which give character to human conduct, even in the absence of gross crime or absolute insanity. In opposition to this “madness,” the saving grace of God trains its subjects to be rational or sober, and thus in the highest sense and measure to be faithful to themselves. But at the same time it trains them to be faithful to others, to be just, in the wide sense of the term; including all that one can owe another--including, therefore, charity and mercy, no less than honesty and rigorous exactness in the discharge of legal obligations. Justice or rectitude, in this enlarged and noble sense, as opposed to every form of selfishness, is no less really a dictate and a consequence of spiritual training, than sanity or soundness of mind, as opposed to the chimeras and hallucinations of our state by nature. But “soberness” and “justice,” in the wide sense which has just been put upon the terms, have never yet been found divorced from “godliness.” As we have seen already, in considering the negative effects of training by Divine grace, it is man’s relations to his God, that must adjust and determine his relations to his fellow creatures. The symmetrical position of the points in the circumference arises from their common relation to a common centre. Such are the objects and effects of Christian training, that is, of the method by which Christ trains His disciples, with respect to the present state or stage of man’s existence, as distinguished from those future states or stages to which he cannot but look forward. For although the sobriety of mind produced by the discipline of God’s grace, causes men of a morbid, penurious disposition to lose sight of present duties and enjoyments in a vague anticipation of the future, it is so far from excluding expectation altogether, that our very salvation is prospective. “We are saved in hope,” and that hope is a blessed one; a hope of blessedness to be revealed and realised hereafter; a hope, that is, an object of hope, not yet fully enjoyed, but only “looked for,” and to look for which is one of the effects and marks of thorough training in the school of Christ. This hope is neither selfish nor indefinite. It does not terminate upon ourselves, our own deliverance from suffering, and our own reception into heaven; nor does it lose itself in vague anticipations of a nameless good to be experienced hereafter. The Christian’s hope is in the highest degree generous and well defined. It is generous, because it rises beyond personal interests, even the highest, even personal salvation, to the glory of the Saviour as the ultimate end to be desired and accomplished. It is well defined, because, instead of looking at this glory in the abstract, it gives it a concrete and personal embodiment; it is glory, not in the sense of the metaphysician or of the poet, but in that of the prophets, saints, and angels; it is manifested and apparent excellence, a glorious epiphany, analogous to that which marked Jehovah’s presence in the Holy of holies, but unspeakably transcending it in permanence and brightness; the glorious appearance, not of any mere creature, even the most noble, but of God Himself, and yet not of God in His essence, which is inaccessible to sense, nor even in some special and distinct manifestation of the Father, or the Godhead, under an assumed or borrowed form of which the senses may take cognisance, but in the well known person of His Son, who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and therefore it is not the untempered brightness of the Divine majesty, and holiness, and justice, which to us is, and must be, a consuming fire; and yet it is the manifested glory of God, of the great God--great in all conceivable perfections, but, as the object of this hope, emphatically great in mercy--great in the power, not to punish and destroy, but to forgive and save, to save the sinner, to save us;--the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let it not be overlooked, however, that the gospel, while it sets Christ before us as an object of believing expectation, sets Him also before us as an object of believing recollection, and thus brings into a delightful harmony the hope of favours yet to be experienced with gratitude for those experienced already. It is not simply as glorious person, human or Divine, that we look for His appearing; it is not simply as a Saviour or Deliverer from evil in the general; it is not simply as a potential Saviour or Deliverer, one who can save us if He will, and will if we should need it at some future time; not merely a Saviour whose ability and willingness to save are yet to be displayed and proved, but as an actual deliverer, as one who has already done His saving work, by giving Himself for us, the highest gift, it may in a certain sense be said, of which even He was capable, for us, His creatures, His rebellious subjects, His despisers, and His enemies! What, then, was His object? To redeem us, to buy us back from bondage, to save us by the payment of a ransom price, not only from the punishment of sin, but from its power, from its love, from its pollution, from its foul and hideous embrace, no less than from its sword and from its chains. It was to set us free from sin itself that Christ redeemed us; not from some sin, but from all sin; not that we should still remain, or afterwards fall back under the dominion of the very tyrant from whose power He redeemed us; not that we should merely exchange one hard master for another, or for many;--no, He “gave Himself for us,” He laid down His life for us, He died upon the cross for us, “that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” Nor was this deliverance from sin as well as punishment intended merely for our advantage, but for His. He had an end to accomplish for Himself. He died to purify us, not merely that we might be pure and therefore happy, but also to purify a people for Himself; a peculium, a possession of His own, a Church, a body of which He should be the Head, a kingdom of which he should be the Sovereign. (J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

The lessons that grace teaches


1. Grace teacheth us holiness.

(1) It teaches by way of direction what duties we ought to perform, and so it makes use of the moral law as a rule of life. Obedience respects the command, as love doth the kindness and merit of the lawgiver.

(2) It teacheth by way of argument; it argueth and reasoneth from the love of God (Galatians 2:20). The law and the prophets do not beseech, but only command and threaten; but the grace of God useth a different method in the New Testament.

(3) It teacheth by way of encouragement, as manifesting both help and reward. Uses.

1. Of information. It showeth us

(1) What is true holiness, such as cometh from the teachings of grace, obliging conscience to the duty of the law, inclining the heart to obey out of the sense of God’s love, and encouraging us by faith, drawing strength from Christ, and looking to God for an acceptance from Him.

(2) That grace and corruption draw several inferences and conclusions from the same premises. A bee gathereth honey from whence a spider sucketh poison.

(3) That it is the greatest wrong one can do to grace to slacken any part of our duty for grace’s sake (Jude 1:14).

2. Of trial. Whether we are made partakers of the grace of God in the gospel? Have we these teachings and arguings? Many can endure to hear that grace bringeth salvation, but that it teacheth us to deny ungodliness, there they flinch. Men would have us offer salvation and preach promises; but when we press duty, they cry out, “This is a hard saying.” The cities of refuge under the law were all cities of the Levites and schools of instruction, to note that whoever taketh sanctuary at grace meeteth instruction; it is no benefit to thee else. In the general, doth it persuade you to make a willing resignation of yourselves to God? (Romans 12:1.)

(1) Doth it press you to deny lusts? (Ezra 9:13-14.)

(2) Doth it press you to good? (1 John 5:3.)

2. Grace teacheth us both to depart from evil and also to do good (Psalms 34:15), “Depart from evil, and do good”; Isaiah 1:16-17, “Cease to do evil, learn to do well.” We must do both, because God hates evil and delights in good; we must hate what God hates, and love what God loves. That is true friendship--eadem velle et nolle--to will and hill the same thing. I durst not sin, God hates it; I durst not omit this duty, God loves it. Let it press us not to rest in abstaining from sin merely. Many are not vicious, but they are not sanctified; they have no feeling of the power of the new life.

3. We must first begin with renouncing evil; that is the first thing grace teacheth. Since the fall, the method is analytical, to unravel and undo that which hath been done in the soul. So it is said of Christ (1 John 3:8). Dagon must down, ere the ark be set up. It cannot be otherwise, it must not be otherwise; there must be mortifying and subduing of sin by acts of humiliation and godly sorrow before there will be experience of grace.

4. It is not enough to renounce one sin, but we must renounce all; for when the apostle speaks of denying ungodliness, he intends all ungodliness. Compare this with 1 Peter 2:1; James 1:21. I might give you several reasons. One sin is contrary to God as well as another. There is the same aversion from an eternal good in all things, though the manner of conversion to the creature be different. Again, one sin is contrary to the law of God as well as another; there is a contempt of the same authority in all sins. God’s command binds, and it is of force in lesser sins as well as greater; and therefore they that bear any respect to the law of God must hate all sin--“I hate vain thoughts, but Thy law do I love” (Psalms 119:113). God hath given a law to the thoughts, to the sudden workings of the spirit, as well as to actions that are more deliberate; and therefore, if we love the law, we should hate every lesser contrariety to it, even a vain thought. And all sin proceedeth from the same corruption; therefore, if we would subdue and mortify it, we must renounce all sin.


1. Direction what to do in the business of mortification. We must deny all ungodliness; not a hoof must be left in Egypt. Grace will not stand with any allowed sin; and in demolishing the old building, not one stone must be left upon another.

(1) In your purpose and resolution you must make Satan no allowance; he standeth hucking, as Pharaoh did with Moses and Aaron; first he would let them go three days into the wilderness; then he permitted them to take their little ones with them; but they would not go without their cattle, their flocks, and their herds also; they would not leave anything--no, not a hoof--behind them. So the devil would have a part left as a pledge, that in time the whole man may fall to his share (2 Kings 5:18).

(2) We should often examine our hearts, lest there lurk some vice whereof we think ourselves free (Lamentations 3:40).

(3) Desire God to show you if there be anything left that is grievous to His Spirit (Job 34:32).

(4) When any sins break out, set upon the mortification of them. Do not neglect the least sins; they are of dangerous consequence; but renew thy peace with God, judging thyself for them, and mourning for them, avoiding temptations, cutting off the provision for the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:27). Use

2. Of trial. Do we renounce all sin? But you will say, “Who can say I have made my heart clean, I am pure from sin?” (Proverbs 20:9.) I answer

(1) It must be done in purpose and resolution. In conversion there is an entire surrender of the soul to God.

(2) There must be a serious inclination of the will against it. Carnal men wilt profess a purpose and faint resolution, but there is no principle of grace to bear it, no bent of the will against it--“I hate every false way” (Psalms 119:104). A child of God doth not escape every false way; but he hateth it, the inclination of the new nature is against it, and therefore sin is not committed without resistance.

3. There must be endeavours against it. The case of obedience must be universal, though the success be not answerable--“Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all Thy commandments” (Psalms 119:6); not when I have kept them, but when I have a respect to them all. We should never be able to look God in the face if our: acceptance lay upon keeping all His commandments; but we must respect them all, and endeavour to keep them all, and dispense with ourselves in no known failing, and still the work of denying all sin must be carried on by degrees. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The effects of the grace of God

1. What does this grace teach us to deny? and the answer is “Ungodliness and worldly lusts.”

(1) Ungodliness means impiety, blasphemy, and all forms of public infidelity; and most certainly all such evils are condemned in the passage: but surely the mere negative form is intended to include far more than these. Ungodly means not godly, and points to the condition of the soul in which God is simply shut out. A godly man is a man in whom God dwells--a man who thinks, speaks, and acts for God. Even so an ungodly man is a man who simply thinks, speaks, and acts without any reference to God--he seeks his own pleasure or interest, and guides his conduct according to the maxims of sagacity and worldly prudence. He thus becomes rich, or learned, or eloquent, or victorious in battle; but seeing God was neither consulted nor cared for in the whole of it, he remains an ungodly man.

(2) But what are these worldly lusts, these cosmical desires? All that relates merely to the kosmos, or great material visible world--all that the men of the world hunt so eagerly after, and long to possess. Your quiet retreat in the bosom of green fields and enchanting scenery delights and satisfies you, and that is worldly lust; you make your calculation in the counting house, and look forward with contentment to the success of your mercantile speculations, and that is worldly lust; you set your heart upon excelling your fellow men, be it in science, or in wisdom, or in warfare, and that too is worldly lust. Everything whose end is in this fallen state of things is worldly lust; everything, however honest and noble and praiseworthy among men, which has not God for its motive and its end, is worldly lust.

2. But how are we to live?

(1) Soberly. This refers to our own character, and implies many of the duties that we owe to ourselves. It denotes soundness of mind, as well as temperance regarding the indulgence of the appetites.

(2) Righteously. This means justly, and sums up the duties which we owe to our fellow men. Justice is one of the exact virtues, which can be easily recognised and definitely measured; and hence it is the great palladium of the nations, the very basis of social intercourse and mercantile prosperity. Justice is a noble, but not one of the highest virtues, and therefore it is well fitted to be the common medium or life of a community. An act of injustice is recognisable and punishable; not so avarice, ambition, or forbidden pleasure; and here, too, we see its fitness for moulding and strengthening the natural character.

(3) This is the idea of natural justice, and forms the staple commodity with publicists and jurists; but righteousness, as defined in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures, is a much higher and nobler principle. Justice is based upon rights; and the Christian, as such, has none, save to love all men, and be put to death for this love, as his Master was. Right says, Smite the smiter till he gets his due; but the gospel says, Turn the other cheek.

(4) Lastly, we should live godly--viz., with God, in God, and for God. This is the glorious end, so far as this world is concerned, which the saving grace of God is intended and calculated to accomplish in the believing Church of Christ. Like their Divine Master, they are not of the world, though in it; and though in the midst of defilement, they remain undefiled. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

3. But what does this grace teach us to look for? I answer, in the first place, the apostle directs the believer’s eye here, as elsewhere, to the glorious Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the centre and home of the longing heart.

(1) What is our position? It is that of waiting for, and looking for, the coming of the Lord--not waiting upon the Lord merely, which is also a duty, but waiting for the Lord from heaven, who shall change our vile bodies, and make them like unto His glorious body. He is the centre in which the ages, ceremonies, and dispensations all meet and have their stability--the unity which harmonises time and eternity, creation and Creator--the living fountain which sends forth the benediction of God over the ages, dispensations, and nations in a thousand streams. As the Jews hoped and waited, so we hope and wait. Our position is the same, and the Person whom we wait for is the same; they waited for His coming in the flesh, and we for His coming in glory.

(2) Is this hope an important doctrine of the New Testament? I answer, very important; for our text calls it the blessed hope, so that it is full of real blessing to the believer. What can be more blessed to the soul than the person of the adorable Redeemer, whom even unseen we love so ardently? All our hopes are about to be realised in His glorious appearing, when we shall be with Him and like Him forever. (W. Graham, D. D.)

The practical effects of the grace of God

The foundation of all true religion. Not our own reason or wisdom, which cannot give us light and knowledge; not our own righteousness, which can never merit salvation or recommend us to God; not our own strength or ability, which is insufficient to help us to do or suffer the will of God, to be pious or virtuous (John 15:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:5); but the grace of God in these different senses--viz., Divine Light from the Word and Spirit of God; this instructs (παιδευουσα), “teaching us,” as a master his pupils, as we are able to receive it, the free favour and unmerited love of God; this, by justifying and adopting, encourages and inclines, adds correction and discipline to instruction, and gives us the will to be the Lord’s: the influence of the Spirit; this gives resolution, fortitude, and power. We may infer from this that they who are not acquainted with, nor possessed of, the grace of God, can have no true religion; or their religion is a superstructure without a foundation; that is, it is only imaginary, illusive, unreal.

The superstructure to be raised on this foundation. Religion itself is the superstructure that must be raised on this foundation, the stream that must flow from this fountain. It consists of two parts.

1. It is negative; “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts.” In this way true religion first appears, and manifests its reality: it makes us “cease to do evil” before we can “learn to do well;” it strips us of “the old man” before it clothes us with “the new.” Without this there can be no religion; there is not even repentance if there be not its fruits (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8).

2. But it has a positive part, which is to “live soberly, righteously, and godly.” Man is here considered as an individual on earth, as a member of society connected with his fellow creatures, and as a creature--a redeemed creature--a subject and servant and child of his Creator, Preserver, King, and Lord.

The happiness that awaits all that do this, and the blessed prospect opened before them. “Looking for that blessed hope,” etc. Hope here is put for the object of hope, a state of future and eternal blessedness, perfection, and felicity, both in soul and body. The grace of God begets us again to a well-grounded and “lively hope” of it; the gospel enlightens us as to this hope, and reveals it; the free, unmerited mercy and love of God justifies, adopts, and entitles us to it; the Spirit of Grace renews and fits us for it. In the way of godliness, righteousness, and sobriety, we wait for it, and are brought to it. “The glorious appearing of the great God,” or, of our great “God and Saviour,” shall raise our bodies, and after the process of the final judgment, shall put us in the possession of it. (J. Benson.)

The purpose of the discipline of grace

The fair picture of what our lives should be.

1. Because we are to a large extent made up of blind desires which take no account of anything except their appropriate food, the commandment comes from the deepest recesses of each nature, as well as from the great throne in the heavens--“Live soberly.” The engines will work on all the same, though the bows of the ship be turned to the rocks, and driving straight on the reef. It is the engineers’ business to start them and keep them going; it is their business to turn the screw; it is somebody else’s business to look after the navigation. We have our “humours under lock and key,” in order that we may control them. And if we do not, we shall go all to rack and ruin. So “live soberly” says Paul.

2. The next requirement is “righteously.” We stand in certain relations to a whole universe of things and of people, and there does rise before every man, however it may be accounted for, or explained away, or tampered with, or neglected, a standard of right and wrong. And what Paul here means by “live righteously” is, “Do as you know you ought to do,” and, in shaping your character, have reference not merely to its constitution, but to its relations to all this universe of outside facts. So far as the word may include our duty to others, I may just remind you that “righteousness” in reference to our fellows demands mercy. The common antithesis which is drawn between a just man, who will give everybody what they deserve, and not one scrap more nor less if he can help it, and a kindly man is erroneous, because every man has a claim upon every other man for lenient judgment and undeserved help. He may not deserve it, being such a man as he is; but he has a right to it, being a man at all.

3. The last of the phases under which the perfect life is represented here takes us up at once into another region. If there were nobody but myself in the world, it must be my duty to live controlling myself, since I stand in relations manifold to creatures manifold, and to the whole order of things, it is my duty to conform to the standard, and to do what is right. And just as plainly as the obligations to sobriety and righteousness press on every man, so plainly is godliness necessary to his perfection. For I am not only bound by ties which knit me to my fellows, or to this visible order, but the closest of all bonds, the most real of all relations, is that which binds us each to God. And if “man’s chief end be to glorify God,” and then, and thus, “to enjoy Him forever,” then that end, in its very nature, must be all-pervasive, and diffuse its sweetness into the other two. For you cannot sliver up the unity of a life into little sections and say, “this deed has to be done soberly, and that one righteously, and this one godly”; but godliness must cover the whole life, and be the power of self-control and of righteousness. “All in all or not at all.” Godliness must be uniform and universal.

Notice what a hard task the man has who will live so. The apostle, very remarkably, puts first, in my text, a negative clause. The things that he says we are to deny are the exact opposites of the characteristics that he says we are to aim after. Now, says Paul, there is no good to be done in the matter of acquiring these positive graces, without which a life is contemptible and poor unless, side by side with the continual effort at the acquisition of the one, there be the continual and resolute effort at the excision and casting out of the other. Why? Because they are in possession. A man cannot be godly unless he casts out the ungodliness that cleaves to his nature; nor can he rule himself and seek after righteousness unless he ejects the desires that are in possession of his heart. You have to get rid of the bad tenant if you would bring in the good one. You have to turn the current, which is running in the wrong direction. And so it comes to be a very hard, painful thing for a man to acquire these graces of which my text speaks. If it were only advancing in practice, or knowledge, or sentiment, or feeling, that would not be so difficult to do; but you have to reverse the action of the machine; and that is hard. Can it be done? Who is to keep the keepers? It is difficult for the same self to be sacrifice and priest. It is a hard matter for a man to crucify himself, and we may well say, if there can be no progress in goodness without this violent and thorough mutilation and massacre of the evil that is in us, alas! for us all.

What God gives us to make such life possible. Christ and His love; Christ and His life; Christ and His death; Christ and His spirit; in these are new hopes, motives, powers, which avail to do the thing which no man can do. An infant’s fingers cannot reverse the motion of some great engine. But the hand that made it can touch some little tap or lever, and the mighty masses of polished iron begin to move the other way. Jesus, who comes to us to mould our hearts into hitherto unfelt love, by reason of His own great love, and who gives to us His own Spirit to be the life of our lives, gives us by these gifts new motives, new powers, new tastes, new affections. He puts the reins into our hands, and enables us to control and master our unruly tempers and inclinations. If you want to clear out a tube of any sort, the way to do it is to insert some solid substance, and push, and that drives out the clogging matter. Christ’s love coming into the heart expels the evil, just as the sap rising in the trees pushes off the old leaves that have hung there withered all the winter. As Luther used to say, “You cannot clean out the stable with barrows and shovels. Turn the Elbe into it.” Let that great flood of life pour into our hearts, and it will not be hard to “live soberly.” He comes to help us to live “righteously.” He gives us His own life to dwell in our hearts, in no mere metaphor, but in simple fact. And they that trust in Jesus Christ are righteous by no mere fiction of a righteousness reckoned, but by the blessed reality of a righteousness imparted. He comes to make it possible for us to live “godly.” For He, and He alone, has the secret of drawing hearts to God; because He, and He alone, has opened the secret of God’s heart to us. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

And worldly lusts

The denial of worldly lust

All things in outward nature have their element, and our moral nature must have its element, in which to live, and move, and have its being. Beasts live on earth, birds fly in air, fishes swim in water; but each of these animal organisms requires its own element, and no amount of education will make a fish enjoy fresh air. Even so the ungodly man has this world for his element, even as the true believer has God for his element. The ungodly is of the earth earthy; he receives the world’s spirit; he enters into its mind; he forms his character in accordance with its genius; he submits to its dictates; he measures everything by its standard. He lives in the world, and is of the world, just as the true believer lives in God, and is of God. He is one with the world, and the world with him. He is represented by the world; for he is in the world, just as the Christian is in Christ, and the world lives in him, just as Christ lives in the heart of His own people, forming its own nature within him, and conforming him to its character. Yes, the child of the world will always be like the world that he makes his god. You remember what the Psalmist says about the gods of the heathen. “Their idols are silver and gold, the works of men’s hands.” Then he goes on to add the startling assertion, “They who make them are like unto them; so are all they that put their trust in them.” And “they that make them are like unto them”--not only do we become the slaves of that which we have created, but we also become assimilated to the creation of our own perversity. I mean to say that those who live in the world and for the world become worldly; and if that sounds but a little thing to some ears, let me say that, if my observation have not failed me, “worldly” means hollow-hearted, empty-headed, frivolous, selfish, sordid, incapable of realising the true dignity of our own nature, insensible to higher motives, heedless of grave responsibilities, unreal, conventional, hypocritical, false, deceiving and deceived. Shall I give an example of what I mean? There are scores of mothers in our land who are at this moment quite prepared to sell their daughters to the highest bidder. The question with them is not “What is the moral character?”--far less “What is the religious character of the man that shall marry my daughter?”--but “How many thousands a year has he? What will be his position in society?” I only mention that as one of the many instances that could be given of the hollowness and heartlessness of the worldly life; because we see it here conquering and paralysing one of the very strongest and purest instincts of nature--a mother’s love. So the world goes on, getting hollower and hollower. The very conversation of the worldling is suggestive of the havoc which the spirit and genius of worldliness have made in the man’s true character. What is worldly conversation for the most part but an exhibition of littleness and frivolity? It never seems to get below the surface. Men of the world know nothing of the fellowship of heart with heart. Just think how impossible it would be for two such persons to discuss with each other their inner life and heart experiences. Oh, empty, hollow, world, is this man’s best substitute for God! Now the apostle affirms that we have denied worldly lust as well as ungodliness. We have renounced and repudiated it forever. But here rises the question, How have the world and worldly lust been thus denied? or how are we to deny it? and how are we to be freed from it? Various answers to this inquiry meet us from different quarters. “Turn your back upon the world,” says the ascetic. “Wander into the depths of the desert. Shut yourself up in an eremite’s cave, or hide yourself within a monastic enclosure.” But even so, how shall I be sure that I may not carry a little world of my own along with me? How shall we get rid of the world’s bondage? or how shall we deny this worldly lust, and rise above it? “Despise it,” says the cynic. “Be indifferent to all considerations of pain and pleasure. Never mind what the world thinks of you. Rejoice in being peculiar.” May not our Diogenes be creating for himself a greater conqueror, or a greater tyrant, in his own inflated self-consciousness, than ever was an Alexander or a Xerxes? No; we want a better answer than this. Again I ask, “How am I to deny worldly lust?” It is all round me. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world hath been crucified to me, and I unto the world.” That is the answer. Grace had taught St. Paul that lesson. He did not learn it on Sinai, but at Calvary. “There was a time when thou didst think well of the world, wast elated by her blandishments, wast alarmed at the thought of her frown. Thou didst value her good opinion, and didst shrink above everything else from forfeiting it; thou wast attracted by her glitter, and blinded by her display. But now, behold the world is revealed as a traitress and a usurper, a rebel against Infinite Benevolence, and a deceiver of all her deluded votaries; for in her judgment theirs is revealed. Child of God, the world is crucified to thee. There she hangs, represented in the great Victim of her malice under the ban of God’s wrath, blighted with a curse, blasted by the dread thunderbolt from the hand of Omnipotent Justice. Thou seest her now exposed to shame and everlasting contempt. Nor canst thou make a cunning compromise between thy God and her whom thou seest crucified yonder; for there can be no compromise between a condemned culprit and his judge, No: ‘If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him’; for the friendship of the world is enmity towards God. And even that is not all,” Grace goes on to say. “By that same Cross thou, too, art crucified unto the world. To the world He is a despised, rejected outcast, crucified outside the camp; and as He is, so art thou in this present world. Surely thou canst not refuse to bear His reproach, to whom thou owest thy all of dignity and honour. But even this is not all. Thou art crucified unto the world; ‘for thou art dead, and thy life is hid with Christ in God.’ Thy old worldly life has been forfeited; but through death and resurrection thou hast been born again as a citizen of the New Jerusalem. Thou art raised up into the heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and now thou art not of the world, as He is not of the world. Art thou content to accept the privileges of the Atonement? Thou rejoicest to accept them. Then understand that one of the privileges of the Atonement is, that thou shouldst be separated, by the very terms of the Atonement, from thy old relationship to a God-resisting world--a world which has presented itself to the hearts of its children as a substitute for the Being to whom it owed its origin.” Can we conceive it possible for a true believer to address his Saviour thus: “O Lord, I desire to escape hell, and I understand that Thy Atonement has been made in order that I may escape it; but I understand also that Thy Atonement had in view several other objects, about which I have no concern. I gather that it was also designed to save me from sin; but about that I am indifferent, so long as I escape sin’s consequences. I will accept the immunity from condemnation. I will be very glad to know that the doors of hell are shut in my face, and that the doors of heaven are opened. But further than this I have no desire; indeed, were I to accept more, the consequences to myself might not be pleasant.” It is, perhaps, impossible to conceive of such language in the lips of any true child of God; yet I fear that such words describe only too accurately the attitude assumed by too many who think themselves Christians indeed. They seek to retain sufficient religion to enable them to entertain the hope of heaven; but they cover this over so skilfully with a cloak of worldly conformity, that they are hardly suspected by their acquaintance and friends of possessing any religion at all. Such Christians attempt to lead a double life in religious society; they can talk as well as any one on religious subjects, and may pass with strangers for earnest and decided Christians; but amongst the citizens of the world they assume quite a different manner, and can be as flippant and frivolous and insincere as any with whom they associate. Yes; it must be one thing or the other--the world or God; we cannot choose both. If we decide to choose the world and seek a substitute for God, then let us get the very best substitute we possibly can find. Do you select money for your substitute? If it be pleasure you select, then live for pleasure. Our choice lies between the two; but ere we decide for the world, let us remember the solemn sentence uttered by inspired lips, but amply confirmed by daily observation, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” If we make choice of it, we cannot keep it; if we decline to deny it, it will soon deny us. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

Live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world

Present day Christian life

Is this a good time for a sober, righteous, and godly life? “Business standards,” it is said, “are relaxing; home habits, loose; self-seeking, the common rule; plain living and high thinking, not the custom of the time.” in such a slate of mind two things seem possible. One is to yield to the pressure of the age. Accepting its inconsistency with the Christian life, one may adapt himself to standards which his conscience never can approve. That is the common worldliness of the present age, surrendering character to the social pressure of the time. The other thing to do is to run away from the age. That is what thousands of the choicest souls have done throughout Christian history. They have thought it impossible to live a sober life in the full current of their own time; and so they have fled from its influence, hiding themselves in monasteries and peopling the desert with their caves. No one can survey the story of these ascetics and hermits without a glow of admiration. It is a great thing that the enticements of each age which have overpowered so many souls have been powerless over a few. But none the less this whole story is not the story of a battle, but of a flight. And it was a fruitless flight. Fleeing from the world, they fled from all the chance they had to make it better. If, then, the sober, righteous, and godly man is not to yield himself to the present age, nor yet to flee from it, what is he to do? Why, he is to use it--to take it just as it is, as the God-given material out of which the Christian character fit for the present time is to be wrought. The saints of the past have been, for the most part, those who have fled from the world; but the Christian saint of today is the person who can use the world. Such a person may be all unconscious that he is doing anything heroic. He is simply the man in the business world who, amid looseness and dishonour, keeps himself true and clean; simply the woman who, amid luxury and affectation, keeps her simplicity and sympathy; simply the youth who, without the least retreat from the influences which beset him in a place like this, makes them contribute to his growth of character. That is a harder thing than to be a hermit, and quite as noble as to be a saint. It is the sober, righteous, and godly life lived in the midst of this present age. The man who hides himself behind the spirit of the age, and makes it the apology of his own folly or sin, is simply deceived. He is like many a man in that western country, who has thought himself standing in a hopeless desert when he really stood in what might be a garden of the world. He simply abandons it to barrenness, instead of turning upon it the stream of service which is at his command, and for which the desert longs. The man, who throws a sober and a godly life into the main movement of the present age, is but contributing the fertilising power to a receptive and responsive world; and the hills and valleys about him will shout for joy at their redemption by that pure and abundant stream. (F. G. Peabody, D. D.)

Everyday life

The ingredients of everyday life.

1. Conversation is a large element of everyday life. The power of speech is one of the grand distinctions of man and of his life upon the earth. It is thus he clothes invisible thought with form, and confers upon the subtle intangible reality an immortality of earthly recognition. Our daily conversation determines all the tone of our mind; it stamps and it stereotypes our temper. It reveals whether charity and virtue, manly or womanly grace, dignify our character; or whether we are frivolous, vain, heartless, and worldly.

2. Wish is an equally extended department of everyday life. It is in our nature to be conscious of desires after a great many things, and these desires are not in themselves sinful; they are even necessary to the maintenance of life, to the onward progress of mankind, to the subduing and replenishing of the earth which God has lent to us, and in which He has given us a life interest. These desires of all kinds are the spring of nearly all that we do in this life. Let us bring them up now, and see what is the revelation they will give us of ourselves. Perhaps we shall find a legion of devils, which must be cast out; a storm of passions, which must be hushed; a brood of revenges, vexations, bad resolves, unbrotherly triumphs, impure hankerings, which must be trampled out of us. Perhaps they are humble, virtuous, charitable, reasonable, modest, chaste, holy desires, fit for a brother or sister of Jesus. A moment’s thought will prove that these desires of ours, these genuine intentions, these self-born, or heaven-inspired, wishes, are our very self; and if we are to be religious men, religion must have sway over these.

3. Work is another main element in life. The business of life, the daily toil and drudgery of a man, these help to constitute his everyday life. It must be possible to bring all this under the empire of religion--to supply a set of motives that can dignify the commonest occupation, consecrate the humblest toil, and make “daily drudgery divine”--motives which can explode and deflagrate those wretched purposes and evil desires that have so often issued in violated laws and broken hearts; and motives which will hallow and purify all our service and every talent.

4. But there is another large department of everyday life to which it is necessary to refer--I mean Recreation. That which is recreation to one man would be a complete penance to another; that which some of you think a most enjoyable relaxation is to others an intolerable weariness. Some mode of spending the leisure hour is necessary to every man; and perhaps nothing more surely indicates his temper and spirit than the method in which he finds it most agreeable to while away his spare time and gather strength for further duty. As religion penetrates everyday life, the whole tone of recreation rises in character, until it becomes harmless, pleasant, virtuous, holy, religious, and useful. To promote this end is one great enterprise of the Church.

The requirements of the gospel as to everyday life.

1. Sobriety means the chastisement of all our passions, the resolute endeavour to gain and keep the control of all our desires, the determination to repress angry feelings as well as impure fancies, to subdue inordinate affection quite as much as depraved taste. Sobriety means resistance to every form of temptation. It has its realm in work quite as much as in recreation--in recreation quite as much as in work.

2. Righteousness is clearly something more than a refusal to commit an act of cruelty or dishonesty. Righteous living includes this; but it means very much more than this. We must respect every just claim upon us, not merely upon our money, but upon our affection, our reverence, and our good offices--and we must recognise and yield the right to every man who has one, to our good words, to our time, to our service, to our best efforts--or we are not acting justly.

3. The life here spoken of is to be a life of godliness; we must date and draw our motives from the highest source. The government of all our passions, the recognition of every just claim upon us, must spring from no mere vague notion that it is right to do this, but from the discovery of the ground of our nature, our relation to the living God, our obligation to the suffering Saviour, and our responsibility to the Spirit of grace. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

The true value of morality

This passage is an admirable example of the manner of the apostle in mingling exhortation to present duties with the recognition and enforcement of that Divine power from which true obedience springs. In other words, we find blended here morality and spirituality. Both the one and the other are made to cohere, and to be in consistency with each other; and both of them spring from considerations of manhood in ourselves, and of gratitude and allegiance to God. It is difficult to give--nor is it necessary that we should give--a definition of morality. It is a phrase in every man’s mouth. It does not mean the same with all, however. Men take their ideas of morality, not only from the communities in which they live, but from the circles in which they associate in any one community; and what would be considered as morality in a certain sort of neighbourhood in this city, would not be considered as continental morality. Morality in a neighbourhood may not be morality in a family of refinement and culture. There is something higher than morality in a cultured household. But yet men are regarded as moral who act in accordance with the laws of the land and with the customs of the community, and who avoid any outbreaking sins which shock the average conscience. It may be said, in the first place, that morality possesses the benefit of the most important negatives. A truly moral man, in the judgment of all, should be a man who does not get drunk, and does not steal, and does not commit burglary, and does not bear false witness. In other words, he is one who is rid of outbreaking vices and outrageous crimes. Well, that is creditable. You ought not to be guilty of such things. And if you have had a strong bias in your nature in any of these directions, and have arrested it, and that under circumstances where influences from without threatened to carry you away, it is no small thing. It is a great thing that you have avoided those pitfalls in which so many have been destroyed. Still, that is not the sum of all excellence. It is not enough for you to congratulate yourself upon, as I think we shall see. I not only recognise the import and excellence of morality in such sterling virtues as these, but I exhort men to them; and I say: “If you cannot go any further, go as far as that. It is a great deal better to go so far than not to reach that point. It may be only a beginning, but it is a beginning.” Secondly: Morality includes those simple virtues which are indispensable to a wholesome life in society. A man can scarcely be called moral who is destitute of worldly honour. Honour is a sort of secular and partial conscience. It is functional; but within its limits it serves a most important end, and keeps alive those fragmentary elements of a higher life, of a higher moral sense, to which all men should be brought. Truth is one of those elements which is regarded as indispensable to morality--that is to say, such ordinary truth as passes current in life. Therefore morality includes honour, and truth, and fidelity, as well as honesty and fairness. And men say, “I am a moral man,” meaning by that that they are possessed of these social and business-like virtues. The experiences of civil life and commercial life have found out many things which are very necessary for the easy conduct of affairs. For the regulation of society, for the living together of great masses of men, various things are inculcated, as essential to morality. Public sentiment demands certain things which are necessary to morality. The law prescribes certain things which are indespensable to morality. The customs prescribe certain negatives which enter into the popular idea of morality. And all of these are designed to take away the friction from the machinery of life, and to raise men above animal violence and above deceit, and put them upon a certain plane of moral sentiment. All that I complain of in reference to them is, that they are so low, that they are such uneducated and undeveloped forms of excellence, that they tend to dampen men’s ambition, and to render them satisfied with the germs of things, instead of leading them to aspire after higher excellences of which these are but the basilar leaves. For--first; Morality in this grand sense founded upon external convenience, and not upon the requirements of things relating to man’s whole nature. So it is a mere fragmentary thing; and it is a fragmentary thing in its lowest stages of development. Secondly: It restrains the outplay of evil; but it does not attempt to purify and to cure the sources of evil. Thirdly: It permits heinous faults which impoverish character, and waste the heart of man. Thus, a man may be a moral man who is peevish, morose, fretful. Fourthly: Morality aims to build up a man outwardly in his condition, but not inwardly in his character. It does not seek to develop one single spiritual grace. Lastly: It leaves out, wholly, the world to come, and all the obligations which we owe to God, and all the relations which are established between the soul and the Saviour Jesus Christ. It leaves out religion. That is to say, it leaves out the highest forms of aspiration and of duty, and all that which faith brings within the circuit of our knowledge and makes imperative. Here, then, are the deficiencies of morality. I have said that in conduct, in its lowest form, it has its value; but I think you will now perceive that it cannot be a substitute for religion. And yet, men who have only morality, say, “What lack I yet?” Now, if an Indian, with a fragmentary dress, should present himself as a full-dressed man before you, would you deride the idea that he was properly clad? Would you have him throw away the little he had before he got more? Complete dress is what one wants; but is nothing short of that of any value? I do not say to the young, “These moralities are of no value to you.” They are of great value to you. Truth speaking, fidelity, industry, cleanliness, punctuality, frugality, enterprise--these are real excellencies. Have these at least. Have these anyhow. But will you be content with these? Is there not something in every human soul which has the touch of inspiration in it, and which leads it to aspire to something more than these qualities, which belong to the undeveloped mass of mankind? Morality is not in any sense, then, a substitute for spiritual religion, any more than industry and frugality are substitutes for patriotism. Every man ought to be frugal and industrious; but many are frugal and industrious who have no patriotism. “Well, then,” you will say, “what about those qualities when a man dies? A man has been industrious, and frugal, and honest, and moderately truth speaking all his life long; and when he dies, and goes to judgment, what is to be done with these qualities which you say are good?” Well, they are of benefit to you now; they are of benefit to you in a thousand ways in this world; but they do not constitute that character which is to fit you for the world to come. They do not go to make the golden key which unlocks those mysteries of love which you have need of. These minor qualities are not a substitute for it. You go forth an ungrown spirit; you go forth with lower leaves without the bloom and the fruit; and the lower is no substitute for the higher. Moreover, out of every one of these lower states, if we did but know it, may be developed, by the Divine grace, that which shall bring forth the true spiritual life. If you know enough to take one step, take a second. If you know enough to recognise law and obligation, and that low sense of character which is required by society, you have that foundation on which moral government itself rests, and you know enough to go on from step to step, and from strength to strength, and develop out of your lower knowledges higher attainments. Spirituality is only the normal and legitimate development of men in their higher forms, Divinely inspired, Divinely led, and Divinely blessed. It is God that works in those who work out their own salvation. It is the Divine cooperation and guiding influence that works upon your mind; and out of this joint working come all the grace, all the hope, all the faith, all the sweet fruition of love, the sense of immortality, and the longing for it, which we experience. And whatever is just, and true, and pure, and sweet, and of good report, upon earth, and in the heavenly circle--all this comes, to be sure, by the grace of God; but it comes by the grace of God through the development of your own faculties, and through your own striving. (H. W. Beecher.)

Good works

This passage has been described as “a concise epitome of the Christian system in its practical bearing on human experience and conduct.” St. Paul’s great theme was faith, but no one acquainted with his writings can charge him with indifference respecting works.

The workers. A careful study of the passage will show that these are

1. Redeemed ones, “Might redeem us” (Titus 2:14). The bond slaves of Satan cannot work for God. David said, “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; Thou hast loosed my bonds.”

2. Saved ones, “Bringeth salvation” (Titus 2:11). The believer does not work for salvation, but from it. Like the newborn child, he does not move to get life, but because he has it.

3. Instructed ones, “Teaching us” (Titus 2:12). The Christian needs to be taught what to do (Acts 9:6), and how to do it, “His way,” (Psalms 25:9).

4. Hopeful ones, “Looking for that blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). The hope of the Lord’s coming is a great stimulus to holiness and activity (Hebrews 10:25).

The workshop. “This present world” (Titus 2:12). The believer’s first sphere of action is in the world. This is

1. A good sphere for the believer. It must be, for our Lord prayed not that His people should be taken out of the world (John 17:15). Conflict with evil is bracing (1 John 2:14).

2. A sphere of much danger. This present world is an evil world, “This present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). Demas was damaged by it (2 Timothy 4:10), and our Lord, remembering the presence of the evil, prayed that His disciples might be kept from it (John 17:15). A sphere of usefulness. Here Christ achieved His gracious and beneficent purposes, “He was in the world” (John 1:10). Here is the material which may be shaped into crowns to adorn the Redeemer’s brow. We may say, as Dr. Macleod said to Dr. Guthrie, in reference to the Cowgate in Edinburgh, “A fine field of labour, sir.”

The works. What have God’s workmen to do? Many things. Note

1. The rejection of bad models, “Denying” (Titus 2:12). A bad model will result in bad work. See this in the case of Nadab, “Way of his father” (1 Kings 15:26). To deny (ἀρνέομαι) is to disown. The believer disowns “ungodliness,” that which is not in the likeness of God or after the mind of God. (See 2 Peter 2:5-6.) “Worldly lusts” are those things which are the staple of the desires of worldly men (John 8:44; 1 John 2:16).

2. The maintenance of a healthy moral sense, “Live soberly.” “Sobriety,” says Mr. Aitken, “according to the Greek moralist, Aristotle, is that which preserves or protects and maintains in due activity our moral sense.” Temptation often produces moral intoxication. It destroys the balance of mind, and reason is in a measure dethroned. Against this evil we must be constantly watching, or there will be discord and disorder in our lives.

3. The production of what is right, “Righteously” (Titus 2:12). The believer must do right in his relation to his family, his friends, society, and the whole world.

4. The imitation of the best model, “Godly” (Titus 2:12). The believer is to be God-like. He must aim at no lower standard. (Mat 5:48; 1 Peter 2:21.)

The workmanship. “Zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). The best work can only be accomplished by the enthusiastic worker. This is true of works of art. Think of the enthusiasm of Michael Angelo, of Rubens, of Mozart, of Palissy. The best work is work for God, and for this the highest enthusiasm is required. What a stimulus to zeal we have in the example of our Lord, “Who gave Himself” (Titus 2:14). Well might Brainerd say, “Oh that I were a flaming fire in the service of my God!” (H. Thorpe.)

The Christian’s business

The Christian’s business, while an inhabitant of this present world.

1. What he must renounce.

(1) Ungodliness.

(2) Worldly lusts.

2. What he must cultivate.

(1) With regard to his personal character he is to “live soberly.” While in the world, he is not of the world. His heart is weaned from its honours, riches, and pleasures. He uses this world without abusing it.

(2) We now pass on to view the Christian in his social capacity. He is to live “righteously” as well as “soberly.” This term includes all his relative obligations.

(a) With regard to the relation in which he stands to his fellow creatures in general, he looks upon himself as a member of one great family, all of whom have suffered a common shipwreck. He sees himself rescued from the wreck by an act of infinite grace, and, therefore, he cannot exult over the rest of the crew as though by his own right hand, or by his own arm he had gotten himself the victory. Tender compassion towards the whole race fills his breast. He longs to tell the whole world of “the grace of God which bringeth salvation”; and he uses every means in his power to diffuse the knowledge of this unsearchable grace.
(b) In his relation also to the Church of Christ the Christian would live righteously. He must here, also, be influenced by the law of love. Consider the many ties which bind Christians to each other. Having a common Father, redeemed by the same precious blood, pervaded by the same Spirit, possessing one hope of their calling--what more can they need to cement the bond that unites them?

(3) In his religious duties he is to cultivate godliness.

(a) He seeks to please God.
(b) He loves to hold communion with God.
(c) He delights to think of God.

(d) He glorifies God in his body and in his spirit.

II. The Christian’s hope in prosecuting his business. What is it that urges on the worldling to labour and toil? What is it that keeps him in one unbroken course of regular and well sustained exertion? Or, again, what is it that excites the shipwrecked mariner to stem the foaming surge? What is it that keeps him clinging with invincible firmness to the friendly plank? Is it not hope? Now if the expectation of worldly gain, and of a temporal salvation can yield such support, oh! say, what should be the sustaining power of your hope--the hope of your Saviour’s second coming. Whether we consider the blessedness of your hope, a complete salvation; or whether we consider the time of its consummation, the glorious appearing of the Redeemer; or, whether, again, we look to the character of your expected Saviour--in whatever point of view we behold your blessed object of hope--we cannot but feel how mighty should be its influence in stirring you up to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” (H. Cadell, M. A.)

Right living


1. We must have control over all the base passions of our nature. The monarch of himself is king of men.

2. There is to be a proper restraint over the more refined, the aesthetic elements of our nature. If you can build a fine house and pay for it with your own money--not your neighbour’s, nor God’s--build it, adorn it with statuary, beautify it with paintings: but make art the handmaid of religion. See to it that the more you spend on yourself, the more you give to God.

3. There must also be a wise control over our professional pursuits. Remember, this world is not all. Let eternal verities dwarf earthly vanities.

Righteously, or rather “justly”--the word points to moral rectitude.

1. We are not needlessly to injure our neighbour. His property, person, and good name are sacred.

2. We are to render to every one his due. We must be just in all our dealings.

3. We are to strive to lead all to salvation through Christ. Our duty to man is not negative. Duty is “duE-ty.” The Christian is to be Christlike: thus he will draw men to God.

Godly. Regard to God runs through all our other duties; personal and relative duties must be done with an eye to His glory. But some duties refer at once to Him.

1. Repentance towards God--a heart broken for and from sin.

2. Faith in Jesus Christ. You cannot please God if you refuse to trust Him.

3. Obedience. This includes all duties. (R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)

The sober life

Hitherto we have been occupied in considering the negative teaching of Grace, by which her pupils are trained to deny ungodliness and worldly lust. Grace begins by separating us from connection with the old, that she may hasten to introduce us into connection with the new. She does not rest satisfied with inducing merely the denial of ungodliness and worldly lusts. Grace begins by communicating life, and along with it a new life power, which is to manifest its presence in the character and conduct of those who receive it. We must possess the new life before we can live it. It must be received before it can be manifested. You might just as well expect a piece of dead wood to grow into a tree the moment you planted it in the ground, and attached to it by some artificial process a few bunches of leaves, or clusters of fruit. Your own common sense tells you that you may plant your walking stick in your garden, and, with the utmost possible care, you may prune it, and water it, and perform all other possible horticultural operations upon it, but it remains a dead stick at the end of the process, and nothing but a dead stick; and you cannot make it grow into life. Let us desist from conceiving that we can ever grow into a state of spiritual vitality by our efforts to improve ourselves. Not only are we taught that Grace saves us from and separates us from the old, but that it introduces us into the new. Not only is the ransomed soul dead unto sin, but alive unto God. We rise into a state of vitality when first we begin to trust ourselves to Christ for life; then only can we receive the gift of life in Jesus Christ from the hand of God, and begin to be, in the full sense of the word, living souls. Are we trying to live soberly, righteously, and godly, because law claims it of us? or are we living thus because we claim it by faith of God, as the law of our new nature that we should do so? Let us proceed to consider the positive characteristics of our new life, to which the apostle here calls attention. We notice that of the three words that he employs--the first brings before us primarily that which we owe to ourselves; the seconds chiefly that which we owe to our fellow man; and the third, exclusively that which we owe to God. The first suggests to our minds the thought of the relations of the various parts of our complex nature to each other; the second, of our relations to society; and the third, of our relations to God. Let us begin by considering the first of these three words as suggesting an important, we may say an essential, lesson of Grace. It is the privilege of the true child of God to lead a sober life. The ancient Greek moralist, Aristotle, in speaking of this word, suggests an etymological derivation of the term, which, though not perhaps philologically correct, may yet serve to indicate the true character of the idea conveyed by the expression to his own mind and the minds of his contemporaries. He speaks of the word here used as formed of two words, signifying the preservation of the moral sense, and accordingly defines temperance or sobriety to be that which preserves or protects, and maintains in due activity our moral sense. This, at all events, gives us a good idea of what an intelligent Greek-speaking man would understand by the word “sobriety.” Let us reflect for a moment upon the idea thus suggested to our minds. It implies, we observe, the possibility of our moral sense being lost, or so interfered with as for the time being to be rendered inoperative. How different things appear when we contemplate them in the abstract and in cold blood, so to speak, from what they do when once they have become causes of actual temptation to us. How readily did the moral sense of David reprobate the pitiless injustice and rapacity of the wealthy despoiler! How often is this blinding influence exercised by passion! Or, again, with respect to worldly lust, which is a common form of moral insobriety, how easy is it for us, in our calmer moments, to deride the world, to look down contemptuously upon it--“Well, after all, what an idle show it is--what a poor painted pageant!” And then we come down from the mount of contemplation, we find ourselves sucked into the stream before we know what is happening; and there we are, just as worldly as other people. What has happened? We have lost our moral sense. We are blinded by the force of the temptations to which we have been exposed, and the influences by which we are surrounded. Now, let us endeavour to get an idea into our minds of some of the various forms which this insobriety may assume (Romans 12:3). A man who thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think, might not at first sight appear to us to be one who is leading a life wanting in sobriety; and yet that is just the description that St. Paul gives of such a person. In 1 Peter 4:7, we have a solemn warning given to us upon this subject: “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober.” Keep your heads clear, the apostle seems to say. You are only down here for a few short days. The end of all things is at hand. Now observe, that where this intoxicating influence prevails, man becomes a prey to inward discords and disorders. The higher elements in his nature are no longer able to master the lower and keep them in their proper place. Now Grace proposes to introduce and maintain moral harmony within our nature; so that, instead of element being arrayed against element, and part against part, the whole may live, and continue to live, under the perfect law of liberty. Grace undertakes so to train us that passion shall not be able to tyrannise over the understanding, or desire ride roughshod over conscience; but that those elements in our nature which are necessarily highest shall occupy their own proper position, and those elements which are necessarily lower shall be subordinated to the superior and commanding faculties which God has set over them. Such in general terms is the character of the sober life. But how are we to establish this inward harmony? How is this most anarchical world one day to be set in perfect order? When and how will the true cosmos be realised? We, basing our hope upon a most sure word of prophecy, look forward to that glorious period of the future, of which I read, “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall execute judgment in the earth,” There is a time coming when Messiah’s sceptre shall sway the hearts of men, and “the kingdoms of this world shalt become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.” Meanwhile, until that glorious day come, it is possible for us, each one of us, in our own souls to realise a millennium, where “the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together, and the hen shall eat straw like the ox.” The millennium begins within each human heart when Jesus Christ is King. We have all read of the horrors of the first French Revolution. We recall with a shudder the ghastly tale of that reign of terror, when the guillotine was the prominent object in Parisian history, and the noblest and the best blood of France was flowing in the gutters. Yes, it was a terrible time; but in what occurred then you have a picture of what occurs in every human heart where insobriety is rampant. What is to be done to remedy this terrible moral disorder? How is sobriety to be established? Thus we see that this virtue of sobriety is something more than a mere negation. It consists not merely in escaping from the tyranny of lust, but in possessing such a sound judgment, such a calm recollectedness, such an administrative capacity, so to speak, as shall enable us to hold the reins of government under Divine authority in the commonwealth of our being, as “a king against whom there is no rising up” (Proverbs 30:31)--our renewed will becoming God’s own vicegerent within our redeemed and consecrated nature. Sobriety regulates, but does not exterminate--modifies, but does not ignore--our natural propensities, which in themselves become only good or bad as they are kept in their proper place, or allowed to depart from it. Nor, again, is sobriety to be confused with phlegmatic dulness and insensibility; on the contrary, it is perfectly compatible with the loftiest euthusiasm, and is often the guide and supporter of burning zeal. Nor, once more, must we fail to distinguish between sobriety and moroseness. There is nothing gloomy, nothing misanthropic, nothing affected or unnatural, though much that is supernatural, in the sober life. The sober Christian sees things, not so much by the “dry light” of the ancient philosopher as in the warm light of Divine love that pervades everything. Are we living a sober life? Do we know what it is thus in God’s name and by God’s power to possess our souls? How common a thing, for example, is it to meet with Christian people who are the victims, not the masters, of an evil and irritable temper, which is ready to be excited on even the slenderest provocation, and to suggest the stormy word, the bitter thought, the hasty and unjustifiable action! Such a habit of soul is simply one form of that moral insobriety, that incapacity of self-control, which erases from our minds, so to speak, for the moment, the sober conclusions of reason, silences our moral sentiment, or so bewilders and confuses it, that it is no longer able to form a just estimate of conduct, to condemn the wrong and maintain the right. But are you living by Grace? Can Christ in you exhibit a bad temper? The truth is, we come down from the level of Grace and “walk as men,” and then we need scarcely wonder that the old tree brings forth the old evil fruit. Or, to take another illustration, how many professing Christians are hampered and marred by some form of worldliness, by vanity, love of money, or by the ambitious dreams of youth? This is but another form of insobriety; our spiritual apprehension has been confused by the insurrection of lower desires unworthy of our Christian character. How many Christians have to complain of their bondage to their own sensual propensities? Let me point out that as Grace provides us with the power, so in the very first great lesson that she gives us she teaches how the power is to be applied. It is through faith that we receive the first great blessing that Divine Grace communicates; it is through faith that we receive all others. Our will has indeed to be exercised, but it has to be exercised rather in admitting its own inability, and in surrendering to Another the task for which it feels incompetent, than in endeavouring to perform the task itself. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

The righteous life

The word “righteousness” sometimes signifies, or at any rate includes, what is here spoken of as temperance or sobriety, and sometimes what is here spoken of as “godliness.” But inasmuch as it here stands side by side with these two other terms, we believe it to be used in a narrower sense, and to have special reference to our relations with our fellow man. The true meaning of the word “righteousness” is suggested to us by a reference to the root word “right,” from which it is derived, just as analogously in the Greek language the word δικαιοσύνη draws its essential import from its connection with its root word δίκη. The idea of righteousness springs from the recognition of right. There are certain rights which have their origin in the nature of our relations with others, which they are justified in claiming that we should respect, and from which we cannot escape, and the recognition of these rights and the fulfilment of these claims is that which we understand by “righteousness.” We are under certain obligations in the first instance to God, and God has certain rights in us which He cannot for a moment ignore or decline to assert and enforce. In recognising these rights, and in responding to these claims, we fulfil the law of righteousness, so far as God is concerned. Further, there are certain rights which our fellow men have in us, which we are not less bound to respect; and inasmuch as we are at present using the term righteousness in the somewhat restricted sense that I have indicated, it will be desirable to give this second class of rights our special consideration. Yes, our fellow men have certain rights in us from which we cannot free ourselves. We owe to society a great debt. Perhaps we do not sufficiently let our minds dwell upon the thought of our debt to society, yet everything around might well remind us of it. The very food that we eat is the product of social labour. We are dependent upon society, and hence are constantly indebted to it. The very money which we offer in return for these benefits is but the symbol of the accumulated labour of mankind; and those who are born in the possession of most of it are therefore the greatest debtors of all. It is true that some of us endeavour to contribute to the wealth of society by our labour, thus making some return for what we have received; but if we reflect how very different our condition is from what it would have been had we been cut off from society from our early years we shall be able to see how much our debt exceeds our capacities of repayment. The Christian feels that he owes an even heavier debt than this to his fellow man. He cannot forget that it was through the devotion of human messengers, who jeoparded their lives in the task, that the glad tidings of the gospel ever became so widely known as to reach his ear. He cannot forget his debt to the Church of Christ all through the ages, nor his obligations to those who have represented her beneficent influences towards him. Who shall say how much we may have been influenced for God and for good, by comparatively trivial circumstances, which have not even left their impress upon our memory, or perhaps of which we have never known at all? “All souls are Mine,” says the great Father of spirits; and because they are His, therefore they possess a certain definite claim upon our consideration, indifference to which must needs argue indifference to Him. There are certain things which society has a right to claim that we should not do, and there are others which society has a right to claim that we should do. Now, as a rule, human laws only recognise the negative claims of right. They provide means for checking men from performing unlawful deeds. When we turn from laws, Divine and human, to conventional morality, here also we find ourselves mainly dealing with the negative side of moral obligation. The idea of righteousness most generally entertained by society is negative rather than positive. Men flatter themselves that if they have done no very definite harm to any one they have pretty well fulfilled the law of righteousness. How often are we told by those whom we seek to convict of sin, and of their need of a Saviour, that they have always endeavoured to do their duty by God and man; and when we come to examine what their idea of duty is, we discover that they simply mean that they are not criminals or open offenders against public decency! But let us observe, in spite of the common sentiment, that the positive claims of the law of righteousness are just as strong and just as incapable of being defeated as are its negative claims. In plain language, we are just as much bound to live for the good of our fellow men as to abstain from injuring them; and even if we can satisfy ourselves that we have abstained from injuring our fellow men, unless we can also show that, according to the measure of our opportunity, we have actually benefited them, we are not in a position to claim that we have even made an attempt to fulfil the law of righteousness. But have men as a rule as much right as they think they have, to conclude that they have fulfilled even the negative claims of the Divine law? We may wrong our neighbour without any overt action, and perhaps more grievously than if we had injured his body with our hand. The scandalous story, even the uncharitable thought, which may be the parent of so many cruel actions, who shall say how much of base injustice there may be in these, and yet the world thinks lightly of them. How much of selfish grasping and pushing may strain the relations of man with man, and yet no such act of dishonesty or violence be committed as could be taken cognisance of by law. All this may pass for justice amongst men, but does it appear so in the eyes of God? So what does it matter how little we pay our commercial clerks, or our half-starved sempstresses; or what does it matter if we deny a Sabbath to our cab and omnibus drivers, and keep them slaving, some fourteen hours a day, all the year round. Justice, after all, is not such a very common virtue amongst mankind. But it is possible for us to injure our neighbour in other ways than these, and thus equally to offend against the negative demands of the law of righteousness. How many are ready enough to affirm “that they have never done any harm to anybody,” who have never even reflected upon the injury that may have been caused even to their nearest friends by the unholy effect of their influence or example. How many a once pure minded and innocent girl is wrecked and ruined for life, by learning only too well the lessons of vanity and levity taught by companions and acquaintances, who never seemed to themselves to be vicious. But even when it can be shown that we are blameless in this respect, we have yet to face its positive claims. The same authority that claims that we should do justly tells us also that God requires that we should love mercy. This is as much a matter of obligation, arising out of our relations with our fellow man, as is the other; and the man that does not love mercy, although he may flatter himself that he does justly, has not fulfilled the law of righteousness. But while under the Old Dispensation the legal obligation was distinctly recognised, we shall see here also how much better and more effectually grace teaches than law. Grace is not content with laying down the positive precept; she presses this lesson upon our mind more forcibly than any commandment could, by setting before us this as the most prominent and striking characteristic of the life of Him whom she has already taught us to trust and love. His was no cold negative morality, no mere abstinence from sin in every form; His morality was the fulfilment of the law, because it was the continuous exhibition of love to the sons of men. His career is thus epitomised by one who was an eyewitness of it. “He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.” More than this; Grace not only exhibits to us this perfect ideal, and sets before us a personal example of pure unselfish benevolence in His life and history, but she offers to us all her best benefits as the result of His having possessed and exercised towards us those qualities which she desires us to imitate. “The love of Christ constraineth us,” exclaims the apostle; that is to say, not our love for Christ, but the consciousness of His love to us “because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died: and that He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again.” Who that has been a recipient of Divine favour can be insensible to such an argument as that? How can we avail ourselves of the self-sacrificing love of Christ for our own salvation, and yet be unmindful of the obligation under which this lays us? We owe our salvation, our immunity from condemnation, and our justification before God, to the fact that, as representing our unrighteousness, Christ died, while, representing the righteousness that God expects of us, He lived. But if this be so, how can we claim the benefits of His life and death without repudiating that which in Him was crucified, and accepting that which in Him won the smile of the Divine Father’s approval? To sum up then, Grace teaches us to live righteously, first by showing in a human life what righteousness, both negative and positive, is, next by loading us with all the spiritual benefits that we enjoy in virtue of the righteousness of this our Great Exemplar; so that gratitude to Him binds us to a life of righteousness, and further by the illustration of God’s judgment against all unrighteousness and sin, and by the fulfilment of that judgment upon the person of the sinner’s Representative on the Cross of Calvary, and as the necessary sequel to this legal condemnation by the introduction of the Divine Spirit as a power of righteousness into our hearts. Surely there is no lack of means towards the end in the school of grace. She is well supplied, not only with lessons, but with all that is needed to bring the lessons home. But further, our idea of righteousness must ever be relative to our subjective condition. That which does not offend my sense of righteousness today, I may distinctly condemn and repudiate a twelvemonth hence. We can speak with assurance of extreme forms, either of evil on the one hand, or of good on the other; but our judgment begins to waver and assurance to forsake us as we approach the border line, and it is only as we become through Grace possessed more and more of God, and more and more taken possession of by God, that our vision becomes clear enough to enable us to discern the dividing line, or even anything that closely approaches to it. But the learners in the school of Grace have one great advantage. They are not students of ethics, but children of God; and therefore it is less their habit to inquire whether a thing is right or wrong, than to endeavour to discover whether or not it be in accordance with the mind of God concerning them. They have no desire to discover the minimum of obligation, but a great ambition to reach the maximum of devotion. As the knowledge of the Divine will opens more and more clearly upon their apprehension, they yield their members more and more fully servants of righteousness unto holiness; for this is how Grace teaches us to live righteously. The just or righteous man lives by his faith. He is not only quickened by it at first, but lives by it when he is quickened, and herein lies his power for righteousness. But such an one cannot be satisfied with mere negative morality; for love glows within his heart, kindled by the breath of God; and love is the fulfilling of the law. He owes it to his God, he owes it to his new life, he owes it to society, to live not for himself. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

The godly life

We proceed now to consider the crowning characteristic of the new life and grandest lesson that Grace essays to teach. All her other lessons, however important in themselves, are designed to lead up to godliness; and unless this lesson is learnt, all others must remain incomplete; for this word brings before us the true end of man. The true end of man is to be attained in his own personality; it is in the proper development and education of the highest and most spiritual faculties of his nature, and in the concentration of these upon their proper object, that man rises to his true destiny and fulfils the great purpose of his being. That object is God; and in the development of those faculties which have God for their proper object, and in their concentration upon Him, consists the state or habit of godliness, while the education and training of these faculties is the work of grace, as she teaches us to lead a godly life. Christianity is a religion, not a mere ethical system, and designed to produce spirituality rather than morality--to teach man to realise and take advantage of his proper relations with God, not to show him how he can improve himself independently of any such relations. God is the centre around which all the moral teaching of the New Testament revolves, or from which it radiates. In the Christian system the revelation of the attributes of God in the person of His Son is the standard of moral truth, and relation of our conduct to God’s will thus revealed the criterion of its moral character. The word “conversion,” with which modern evangelising preaching has made us all familiar, and more particularly the word in the original Greek which we thus translate, is very well chosen as being suggestive of the only possible commencement of the life of godliness. It signifies not only a turning, but a turning towards God. When first His Divine influences begin to move us, He finds us with our hearts averted from Him, and our lives setting in an opposite direction. Then comes the first great change: the godless heart is brought by the influences of the Holy Spirit to feel its need of God, and in yielding to this sense of need, and in the endeavour to satisfy it, the godly life finds its commencement. “Jesus Christ died for our sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” When that great change has taken place, which we usually call conversion, its most salient feature is always the complete alteration and, we may say, reversal of all our previous relations with God. Instead of flying from Him, we have now boldness to approach Him; instead of looking upon His service as a yoke of bondage, we find it the only freedom. It is doubtless with a view to this end that faith has been Divinely appointed as the subjective condition of justification. He has appointed simple faith in Himself; for this reason, amongst others, that faith brings us into the closest and most personal relations with God Himself. No man who accepts the Christian revelation at all can fail to recognise the justice of the Divine claims. Created at God’s pleasure, and for His glory; redeemed by the life of His Son, and consecrated by the gift of the Divine Spirit; the believer must, as a matter of theory at any rate, admit that he is under an obligation to his God, from the force of which it is impossible to escape. Two thoughts, however, about these rights of God in His creature we may call attention to in passing. The first is, that these claims of God upon us are not arbitrary in their character, or despotic in their operation; they are perfectly consistent with, and indeed they are the expression of, Divine love towards man, and therefore they are most strictly in accordance with our true interests. The apparent opposition that sometimes seems to exist between man’s interest and God’s will arises from the fact that man does not clearly apprehend his own interests, and confuses between his real good and his temporary gratification; while, on the other hand, he misunderstands the nature of the Divine will. If we could only obtain a firm and practical grasp of this great truth, that our interests and God’s will must coincide, what different lives we should lead! The second thought to which I desire to refer flows from this, an ever-necessary sequel. Since God’s claims cannot be opposed to our truest well-being, therefore they can never be withdrawn or even modified. Were God to ask less than He does He would be doing us an injury, not a benefit; for He would be teaching us to be satisfied with something less than our highest good. These claims of God upon us are like the claims of the law of righteousness, both negative and positive. From certain forms of conduct the law of godliness demands that we should abstain; while, on the other hand, there are certain things which it enjoins. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” This first negative claim of God upon His creature man is represented in the Decalogue as being attributable to a certain attribute of the Divine character, which is denoted by the word “jealousy.” Such being the nature of the first claim of the law of godliness, and such the attribute to which it is due, let us proceed to consider the second, and then to observe how Grace teaches us to comply with these claims. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This claim includes all others; for here also “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” But how shall we respond to these claims? The Law might say to the Israelites, “Thou shalt have none other gods but Jehovah.” But none the less Israel proceeded to copy the idolatries of Egypt and Canaan. And the law may repeat its solemn prohibition to men in our own day, but will that keep them from worshipping at the shrine of Mammon, or Pleasure, or Fashion? The Law might tell the Israelites to love the Lord their God with all their heart; but that did not prevent them from turning their backs upon Him altogether. “My people have forgotten Me days without number.” Grace presents to us the claims of God in the light of privileges, ever pointing to the Cross for an argument to move our wills, and appealing to the true character of the Divine purpose for a justification of her claims. Here is a specimen of the way in which she urges God’s claims, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and perfect, and acceptable, will of God.” So long as our hearts resent or even demur to the claims of God upon us we cannot enjoy the fellowship of God. We are not agreed. But as soon as we have joyfully accepted these claims, even though we may have only begun very inadequately to fulfil them, the cause of disagreement is removed, and there is nothing to prevent the soul from enjoying the life of fellowship with God. It is not difficult to see the connection between this habit of fellowship with God and the next feature of the life of godliness to which we will refer, and the development of which constitutes frequently the next forward step in Christian experience. Reconciliation is necessary to fellowship, fellowship is necessary to personal love. This affection is the result of personal knowledge, and increases with it. They must perforce love Him most who know Him best, and they must know Him best who are most in His society, who live in the secret of His presence. Nor is this love of the soul for God a mere enthusiasm of admiration, though admiration must ever be one of its most prominent elements. Nor is this love of the soul for God a mere sentiment, a sickly enthusiasm. Men have been prompt to turn their backs upon the dearest earthly affection, the tenderest ties, because the love of God led them on. But the love of God must needs produce very definite subjective effects upon him who knows its blessedness. Even amongst us men, where persons are bound together by close and mutual affection, it has often been observed that a certain assimilation takes place between them, even though they may have originally been very unlike each other--an assimilation that affects not only character, but outward manners and habits, sometimes even extending to the expression of the countenances and the tones of the voice. It is not surprising, then, that they who walk with God, and thus come completely under the influence of the love of God; should be conformed unto the Divine image. “Beholding His glory, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord,” The characteristics of the godly life are of the most practical kind, for true godliness influences everything, elevating and purifying all, and he who lives it will offer such a contrast in his life and conversation to those who live it not, that men shall still be constrained to marvel at such, and to take knowledge of them that they have been and still are with Jesus. Are we living godly in Christ Jesus? It often happens that present salvation, in virtue of the atoning work of Christ, has been accepted without any very definite apprehension of what I may describe as the moral and actual benefits ensured to us by that work, and of the claims that God makes upon us in consequence of it. Where this has been the case, a change so marked and definite that it is sometimes described as a second conversion often takes place, when first the eyes are fully opened to see what the fulness of God’s provision actually is. My next word of counsel would be, that the soul that wishes to grow in godliness should cultivate a habit of delicate sensibility to the Divine influences. This is chiefly to be done by making prompt and unquestioning response to the Divine motions. Yield to those heavenly desires, those Godward aspirations, which suddenly interrupt the ordinary occupations of the mind. Next I would say, Be very jealous of idols. The object may be in itself an innocent one; it becomes most guilty when it takes in any degree the place of God. And lastly, do not be satisfied with anything that seems to be beneficial until you find God in it. The Bible will be a “well of salvation,” just in so far as God speaks to us from its pages through the Incarnate Word, and by the Divine Spirit. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

Sobriety and righteousness

1. The doctrine of grace teacheth not only to abstain from evil, but also to do good, and is the mistress of true sanctification in both parts of it, both the mortification of sin, as also quickening in righteousness. For as it is in the lighting of a dark house, first darkness must give place, and light must succeed, so is it in the shining of this light of grace, the night must pass, and then the day must come; the old man must be cast off with his lusts, and then the new man put on.

2. Note that where the gospel bringeth to any person salvation, there it looketh for return of some recompense; and namely this, that it be entertained with sobriety, righteousness, and godliness, which are the three graces which go hand in hand, and every one looking at another. Sobriety keepeth the house, and moderateth the mind at home; righteousness looketh forth, and giveth every man his due abroad; piety looketh up unto God, and giveth Him His right. Sobriety preserveth, and is content with its own estate and portion; righteousness preserveth, and is content that other men enjoy their estate and portion; piety preserveth, and is willing that God’s part be reserved unto Him. Again, sobriety must go before as a nurse of the other two, for he that dealeth not soberly, cannot deal justly, but depriveth the Church, the commonwealth, and family of their due. Righteousness without godliness is but atheism, and a beautiful abomination; and piety without righteousness is but hypocrisy; for how absurd it is to be precise with man and careless how wickedly we deal with God? Now as sobriety, the first, is the nurse of the two latter, so piety, the last, is the mother of the two former, which, where it is wanting, neither of the former, nor both of them, can commend a man unto God. Therefore, none of these three adverbs of Paul (as a learned writer speaketh) must be forgotten, which jointly contain all the rules of Christian life. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

In this present world

1. Note that godliness must not so lie hid in the heart, but it must appear in the eyes of the world, neither must it be neglected till death, but exercised in this present world: a point the more needful to be propounded, in that every man naturally wisheth with Balaam to die well and godly; but forgetting the practice of piety in their life time, we see the most men would be put in mind of God at their death, and send for the minister when the physician hath left them hopeless of life, yea, albeit they have forgotten the Almighty, and neglected acquaintance with Him all their days, yet at the finishing of them they would seem to seek unto Him. But it is most righteous with God that an ungodly life be finished with a proportional death, whatsoever it seemeth to be: and, therefore, it is a safe rule worthy our remembrance, that whatsoever we would be found doing on our dying day, to be doing it every day while we live.

2. Note hence that it is a most deceitful and desperate argument thus to conclude--If I be ordained to salvation let me never pray, never serve God, and do what I will I shall be saved, and on the contrary; and hence to cast off all the care of godliness; for this openly proclaimeth want of grace, which directeth men to the means, and leadeth them the way of salvation in this present world. God in wisdom hath combined to every end His means in all His ordinary courses; as to natural life, bread, sleep, physic; so to the spiritual, the word, sacraments, prayer, sobriety, righteousness, piety; and therefore the argument will be found in the contrary thus: If God have appointed me to die the death of the righteous, He hath ordained me to the means, namely, to live the life of the righteous; if to glory, then to grace; if to the full revelation of glory hereafter, then to the firstfruits of it here in grace; if to the city of the great King hereafter, then to the suburbs here; there is no jumping to heaven, no more than a man can leap from one city to another upon earth,

3. Note hence what is the proper end of every man’s life in this present world, namely, that in the way of a sober, righteous and religious life, he may attain everlasting happiness hereafter. Alas, how do many pervert the end of their lives, some to get wealth, honour, and great estates; others to sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play; others to trade in some one or other special sin and lust, but let us that will be wise to salvation, seeing it is called today, and our acceptable time and day of salvation is come upon us, beware of hardening our hearts. Let us not dare to strive against the Holy Ghost in the ministry, for contemners of grace in this present world shall never partake of the glory of the just hereafter. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Godliness must calculate the resisting element

Power is calculable by the results it yields, but if we are attempting to estimate the force of a projectile, we shall take account not only of the velocity at which it moves, but also of the quality and tenacity of the resisting material which it shows itself competent to penetrate. One evidence of the vital energy of Christianity is shown in this, that in all its movements and demands and prohibitions, it runs steadily counter to the whole grain of natural desire. Whatever Christianity has done or may yet be doing in the world, it is doing it all in the teeth of spontaneous impulse. It is a system that requires us to love our neighbour as we do ourselves. It enjoins upon us to crucify our affections and lusts. It is a religion that is contented with nothing less than sacrifice. It meets the soul at the level of its higher needs, to be sure; but that is not the level at which we find it our first impulse to live. Christianity prohibits our doing a host of things that we would like to do, and requires us to do another host of things that we have no disposition to do. Every inch that Christianity has gained, or may still be gaining, it has gained by a square fight. All advance that it has made has been so much conquest on the one side, over against so much reluctant and contested surrender on the other. In estimating the draught power of a locomotive, we must consider not only the rate at which it moves and the tons of freight it drags, but the grade at which it is pulling. If I can row eight miles an hour, it is important to know whether I can do it with the wind, or in the teeth of it. There is nothing evangelical in a man’s first impulses. So in estimating the inherent vigour of Christianity, it must be studiously considered that in all its advances it has steadily trained upon it the charged and primed artillery of man’s natural lust and congenital ambition. All the way from the last man that became a Christian, back to Peter who forsook his fishing tackle at the Lord’s call, the process of becoming a Christian has been a process of surrender. Count that carefully in calculating the spiritual dynamics of the doctrine of the Nazarene. (C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

Duty to our Father in heaven must be united with duty to our brother on earth

You have a son, I will suppose, in a distant land. He has been prosperous, he has become honoured, influential, and beloved. He has won golden opinions from all for his abilities, his charities, his devotion to the interests of the community. He is known as a tender father; he is reputed a munificent benefactor and large-hearted philanthropist. The colony rings with his praises. Does not your paternal heart throb with a pardonable pride as you hear of the goodness and the greatness to which he has attained? “Alas!” you say, “what might be my pride is my pain. My boy has been absent for twenty years, and took a father’s fond blessing with him, but during that long period he has sent no tidings to his parents. His commercial correspondence has been carried on with most commendable regularity, but never a solitary line has he written home. All the news we get of him comes at second hand. We hear of his bounties to others, but we are getting poor in our old age and no token has come to us. He has not shown in any way that he is even aware of our existence.” Now what are your ideas of such sonship as that? Are not the benefactions of such a man an abomination, and his fascinations an offence? Here, then, is a picture of the behaviour of the man who, just in all earthly dealings, and tender in all human relations, yet lives, with regard to his highest obligations, simply as though God were not. (J. Halsey.)

Looking for that blessed hope

The hope of the resurrection

“I believe in the resurrection of the body.” And what does this imply? Does it merely mean that we assent to there being such a thing, as a bare truth in the abstract? Does it mean, “I believe that men’s bodies shall rise?” And when we continue, “And in the life everlasting,” do we merely intend by this, “I believe that some shall live forever?” Oh, surely not: we cannot have such a cold unworthy idea of the articles of the Christian faith as this. When I utter these words in church, when I profess them as my belief, I must surely mean that I regard them as facts in my own life and course. I take the words as they stand in the Nicene Creed, where the very same expression is used as in our text: “I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” That is, I expect in my own case, I look forward to witnessing, and sharing in, the things thus spoken of. If you ask me what reason have I in my own case to look for such blessed participation in the resurrection to life eternal, my answer is plain and decisive. “I look for the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting,” because God has assured these blessings to me in my covenant relation with Him in Christ as a member of Christ’s body. Now, many of you are aware that in saying this I am touching on a question much debated among religious writers of a certain stamp: I mean the question as to what is called personal assurance: the question as to whether it is, or is not, an essential portion of the Christian’s faith to be assured of his own part in Christ, and his own ultimate share in Christ’s salvation. Now, this is a question which no Christian Churchman can be at any loss how to answer. He will answer it as we have done above; and tell the inquirer that his own personal part in God’s covenant and God’s promises is not a matter which can be left to uncertain and easily mistaken feelings and experiences of his own, but is, as we said before, at the foundation of his whole spiritual life, which is built up upon it, as it is built on the fact of God’s mercies to him in Christ. And this being so, important effects are produced, or ought to be produced, on our views of several things, either present or in prospect.

1. The first of which I shall speak is our view of death. If a blessed resurrection in an incorruptible body is to be ours, any one can easily see that the act and state of death, so terrible where this hope is not, at once loses its formidable character, and shrinks up into utter insignificance. Doubtless it will and must be a conflict when it comes, that solemn moment of parting from the body: but what is a conflict where victory is assured to us? What soldier ever dwells long and gloomily on the fearful incidents of battle, by way of bracing his courage to meet it? Is it not ever the rule, and should it not ever be our rule, to dwell on the triumph beyond, and so to forget the struggle by which it is to be reached?

2. And as this confidence of hope will alter our view of death, so will it also of life. What is life to the man of this world--to the poor creature who does not know whether it is not to be cut short forever at the day of death? Life to him is simply a snatching time: to get as much as he can out of it, to eat and drink, and amass gain, and earn repute, and win importance, and fill as large a space as he can with what credit he may: and there is an end of it. Thousands on thousands are leading just this life and nothing more: often varnished over with pure and bright colours--decent charities, expected attendance on religion, and the like: but none can deny that, judging by the practice of most men, such is the general view of life; that as to eternity and so on, it is an uncertainty after all, and it is better to take the present good in hand, than to lay up for such an uncertainty. Now then, does a man, in his heart, in his deepest thoughts and views of the future, look for the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting? And can he any longer think thus of life? Why, to the other man, this life is all: he knows of nothing beyond it; but to this man, what is beyond it is almost all, and this life is as compared to it almost as nothing. But how? Even as the seed time, which though in a certain field it may be but one morning in a year, yet on that one morning depends all the use and produce of that field for that year--so is it with the Christian believer’s estimate of this life. It is, as compared with that beyond the grave, but as a moment--but as a point hardly to be appreciated: yet in the use of this moment, in the complexion of this little point, is involved the whole character and degree of blessedness of that immeasurable eternity. Life is now not a snatching time, but a laying-up time: a time of treasuring up things which may be of account there.

3. There is another thing concerning which, if we look in our own persons for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting, our views will necessarily undergo a change, and that is, the body. It may not be very easy to say what the mere worldly man thinks of the body in which he finds himself dwelling. But I am afraid we should not be far wrong in believing that the very last thing which he expects is, that it will rise from the grave, and be his dwelling forever. This doctrine, at which the wise Athenians scoffed, is still despised by those who think themselves wise after this world’s measure. They have some vague notion of a probability of the immortality of the soul and a future judgment, without ever reflecting that we shall be judged in the body for the deeds done in the body. And the consequence is that in their view the man is not one, but two persons, soul and body: the soul is meant to be saved by religion, but the body has little or nothing to do with religion. And then those who are not only worldly, but irreligious, go further than this; and pretend to tell us, from the speculations of misused science, that the life which is so mysteriously placed in the body is necessarily and inseparably united to it, and therefore perishes when the body decays. How different an aspect do the things of the body present to him who regards it as his companion through a blessed eternity--to him who reads and feels what the apostle tells us, that Christ is the Saviour of the body; that we are now waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of the body. How careful will he be to train this his future servant for its blessed ministrations there;--to put it entirely under the power of God’s purifying Spirit of grace:--to subdue in it all impure and unholy desires, all inordinate indulgences of lawful appetite, and render it a habitation if it may be worthy of Him whose temple it ought to be.

4. Yet another change will be wrought by looking for the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting: and that will be in our views of and affections towards others around us. If the painter who painted for posterity needed more care in every touch than the other, who painted merely for the day, will not he who loves for eternity love more wisely, more tenderly, more cautiously and self-denyingly than he who merely gratifies a present predilection? A fellow member of the body of Christ--one with whom I hope to hold converse which shall never know parting nor end in the presence of Him who is Love--if I remember this, and act on this, can I wantonly wound the feelings of such an one? Can I hinder such an one in the path to glory? Can I to such an one act a part, and put on guile, to serve any worldly purpose? “They take the sun out of heaven, who take away friendship out of life”: thus wrote the heathen philosopher; but we may say a worthier thing--they take away the sun out of heaven, who take the hope of the resurrection out of friendship.

5. Once more, he who looks for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting, will, in proportion as this blessed hope is present to him, find his thoughts of Christ evermore changed and exalted, and made more precious to him. From a distant historical character to a present Saviour--this is the first great change in a man’s thoughts of Christ. From a present Saviour to be the desire of his soul--one whose likeness, and nothing else, will satisfy him; this is the next change, and it is no less an one than the former: it is, after all, that which constrains a man, that which leads him on, that which will transform him into Christ’s image from glory to glory. And I see not how this latter change can take place, without a man’s looking for this blessed hope of the resurrection. (Dean Alford.)

The happy hope

There are two appearances spoken of in this context--the appearance of “the grace of God that bringeth salvation”; and parallel with that, though at the same time contrasted with it, as being in very important senses, one in nature and principle, though diverse in purpose and diverse in manner, is what the apostle here calls “the glorious appearing of the great God.”

The appearance of the grace leads to the appearance of the glory. The identity of the form of expression in the two clauses is intended to suggest the likeness of and the connection between the two appearances. In both there is a visible manifestation of God, and the latter rests upon the former, and completes and crowns it. But the difference between the two is as strongly marked as the analogy; and it is not difficult to grasp distinctly the difference which the apostle intends. While both are manifestations of the Divine character in exercise, the specific phase (so to speak) of that character which appears is in one case “grace,” and in the other “glory.” If one might venture on any illustration in regard to such a subject, it is as when the pure white light is sent through glass of different colours, and at one moment beams mild through refreshing green, and at the next flames in fiery red that warns of danger. The grace has appeared when Divine love is incarnate among us. The long-suffering gentleness we have seen. And in it we have seen, in a very real sense, the glory, for “we beheld His glory--full of grace.” But beyond that lies ready to be revealed in the last time the glory, the lustrous light, the majestic splendour, the flaming fire of manifest Divinity. Again, the two verses thus bracketed together, and brought into sharp contrast, also suggest how like, as well as how unlike, these manifestations are to be. In both cases there is an appearance, in the strictest sense of the word, that is to say, a thing visible to men’s senses. Can we see the grace of God? We can see the love in exercise, cannot we? How? “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?” The appearance of Christ was the making visible in human form of the love of God. My brother! The appearance of the glory will be the same--the making visible in human form of the light of throned and sovereign Deity. What we look for is an actual bodily manifestation in a human form, on the solid earth, of the glory of God! And then I would notice how emphatically this idea of the glory being all sphered and embodied in the living person of Jesus Christ proclaims His Divine nature. It is “the appearance of the glory”--then mark the next words--“of the great God, and our Saviour.” The human possesses the Divine glory in such reality and fulness as it would be insanity if it were not blasphemy, and blasphemy if it were not absurdity, to predicate of any simple man. The words coincide with His own saying, “The Son of Man shall come in His glory and of the Father,” and point us necessarily and inevitably to the wonderful thought that the glory of God is capable of being fully imparted to, possessed by, and revealed through Jesus Christ; that the glory of God is Christ’s glory, and the glory of Christ is God’s. And then I must touch very briefly another remarkable and plain contrast indicated in our text between these two “appearings.” They are not only unlike in the subject (so to speak) or substance of the manifestation, but also in the purpose. The grace comes, patient, gentle, sedulous, labouring for our training and discipline. The glory comes--there is no word of training there! What does the glory come for? The one rises upon a benighted world--lambent and lustrous and gentle, like the slow, silent, climbing of the silvery moon through the darkling sky. But the other blazes out with a leap upon a stormy heaven, “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west,” writing its fierce message across all the black page of the sky in one instant, “so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”

The appearing of the glory is a blessed hope. The hope is blessed; or the word “happy” may, perhaps, be substituted with advantage. Because it will be full of blessedness when it is a reality, therefore it is full of joy while it is but a hope. The characteristics of that future manifestation of glory are not such that its coming is wholly and universally a joy. There is something terrible in the beauty, something menacing in the brightness. But it is worth noticing that, notwithstanding all that gathers about it of terror, all that gathers about it of awful splendour, all that is solemn and heart shaking in the thought of judgment and retribution for the past, the irreversible and irrevocable pest, yet to Paul it was the very crown of all his expectations of, and the very shining summit of all his desires for, the future--that Christ should appear. The hope is a happy one. If we know “the grace” we shall not be afraid of “the glory.” If the grace has disciplined in any measure we may be sure that we shall partake in its perfection. They that have seen the face of Christ looking down, as it were, upon them from the midst of the great darkness of the cross, and beneath the crown of thorns, need not be afraid to see the same face looking down upon them from amidst all the blaze of the light, and from beneath the many crowns of the kingdoms of the world, and the royalties of the heavens. Whosoever hath learnt to love and believe in the manifestation of the grace, he, and he only, can believe and hope for the manifestation of the glory.

The grace disciplines us to hope for the glory. The very idea of discipline involves the notion that it is a preparatory stage, a transient process for a permanent result. It carries with it the idea of immaturity, of apprenticeship, so to speak. If it is discipline, it is discipline for some condition which is not yet reached. And so, if the grace of God comes “disciplining,” then there must be something beyond the epoch and era within which the disciple is confined. Here is a perfect instrument for making men perfect, and what does it do? It makes men so good and leaves them so bad that unless they are to be made still better and perfected, God’s work on the soul is at once an unparalleled success and a confounding failure--a puzzle, in that having done so much it does not do more; in that having done so little it has done so much. The achievements of Christianity upon single souls, and its failures upon those for whom it has done most, when measured against, and compared with, its manifest adaptation to a loftier issue than it has ever reached here on earth, all coincide to say--the grace--because its purpose is discipline, and because its purpose is but partially achieved here on earth--demands a glory, when they whose darkness has been partially made “light in the Lord,” by the discipline of grace, shall “blaze forth as the sun” in the Heavenly Father’s kingdom of glory. Yield to the discipline, and the hope will be strengthened. You will never entertain in any vigour and operative power upon your lives the expectation of that coming of the glory unless you live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. That discipline submitted to is, if I may so say, like that great apparatus which you find by the side of an astronomer’s biggest telescope, to wheel it upon its centre and to point its tube to the star on which he would look. So our anticipation and desire, the faculty of expectation which we have, is wont to be directed along the low level of earth, and it needs the pinions and levers of that gracious discipline, making us sober, righteous, godly, in order to heave it upwards, full front against the sky, that the stars may shine into it. The speculum, the object glass, must be polished and cut by many a stroke and much friction ere it will reflect “the image of the heavenly”; so, grace disciplines us, patiently, slowly, by repeated strokes, by much rubbing, by much pain--disciplines us to live in self-restraint, in righteousness and godliness, and then the cleared eye beholds the heavens, and the purged heart grows towards “the coming” as its hope and its life. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The blessed hope

The great object of the Christian hope. The true rendering is not “the glorious appearing,” but “the appearing of the glory.” There are two appearings--that of “the grace of God,” and that of “the glory.” These two manifestations are paralleled in many respects, as is shown by the very fact that the same word is employed in reference to both, but they differ substantially in this, the aspect of the Divine character manifested, by each. The one is like the silver moon flooding all things with silvery and gentle light; the other is like the flash of the lightning from one side of the heavens to the other. Both the manifestation of the grace and that of the glory are given through the same medium. Jesus Christ is the means of making the grace visible; and Jesus Christ will be the means of making the glory visible. And these two appearances are connected in such a manner that the former is evidently incomplete without the latter. As certainly as the cradle at Bethlehem required the open grave and the ascension from Olivet, so certainly does the ascension from Olivet require the return to judgment. The past has in it one great fact, to which the world must turn for light, for leading, for life. And that past fact, like an eastern sky that flings its colouring into the furthest west, irradiates the future and points onwards to His return again. So that past fact and its companion yet to be are like two great towers on opposite sides of some fathomless abyss, from which stretch the slender rods which are sufficient to bear the firm structure on which we may tread across the gulf, defiant of the darkness, and find our way into the presence of God.

The Christian anticipation of the appearing. “Looking,” says the apostle, “for that blessed hope.” How comes he to call it blessed? If it be a flashing forth of the Divine glory, and if it be, as it distinctly is, a coming to judge the earth, there must be much about it which will touch into activity not unreasonable fears, and may make the boldest and the truest shrink and ask themselves the old question, “Who shall stand when He appeareth?” But Paul here stretches out the hands of his faith, and the yearnings of his desire to it. Whence conies this confidence? It comes from the power of love. How beautiful it is, how merciful, and how strange that the very same yearning after bodily presence, the same restlessness in separation, and the same fulness of satisfaction in companionship, which mark the lower loves of earth, can be transferred wholly to that higher love! This hope is blessed because of the power of the assurance which we all may have that that coming can bring no harm to us. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness before Him at the day of judgment.” It is blessed because the manhood which is thus lifted to participate in and to be the medium of manifesting to a world the Divine glory, is our manhood; and we shall share in the glory that we behold, if here we have trusted in the grace that He revealed. “He shall change the body of our humiliation that it may be fashioned after the likeness of the body of His glory.” And the hope is blessed because, in contradistinction to all earthly objects of hope, it is certain--certain as history, certain as memory. It is as secure as treasures that we keep in the cedar presses of our remembrances. It is also blessed because, being thus certain, it is far enough in advance never to be outgrown, never to be fulfilled and done with here. So it outlasts all others, and may be laid in a dying hand, like a rosebud clasped in cold palms, crossed on each other, in the coffin; for not until we have passed the veil shall we receive the hope. He will come to the world; you and I will go to Him; either way, we shall be forever with the Lord. And that is a hope that will outlast life and death.

The teaching or correction which strengthens the hope. The fact that the first manifestation is of an educational and corrective kind is in itself an evidence that there is another one to follow. For the very idea of training implies that there is something for which we are being trained; and the very word “correction” or “discipline” involves the thought of an end towards which the process is directed. That end can be no less than the future perfecting of its subjects in that better world. God does not take the rough bar of iron and turn it into steel and polish it and shape it and sharpen it to so fine an edge, in order that He may then break it and cast it “as rubbish to the void.” You will find in prehistoric tombs broken swords and blunted spears which were laid there with the corpses; but God does not so break His weapons, nor is death the end of our activity. If there be discipline there is something for which the discipline is meant. If there be an apprenticeship there is somewhere work for the journeyman to do when he has served his articles and is out of his time. There will be a field in which we shall use the powers we have acquired here; and nothing can bereave us of the force we made our own, being here. Grace disciplines, therefore there is glory. Again, our yielding to the grace is the best way of strengthening our hope of the glory. The more we keep ourselves under the influences of that mighty salvation that is in Jesus Christ, and let them chasten and correct us, and submit our inflamed eyes to their healing pains, the more clearly will they be able to see the land that is afar off. Telescope glasses are polished in order that they may enable the astronomer to pierce the depths of the heavens. Diamonds depend for their brightness on the way in which they are cut, and it is poor economy to leave some of the precious stones on the mass, if thereby its reflecting power and its radiance be diminished. God cuts deep and rubs hard, in order that He may brighten the surface and the depth of our souls, that they may receive in all its purity the celestial ray, and flash it back in varied colours. So, if we would live in the buoyant hope of the manifestation of the glory, let us docilely, prayerfully, penitently, patiently, submit ourselves to the discipline of the grace. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The Christian’s blessed hope

The force and fitness of the argument drawn from the hope of a Christian. The ground of our hope lies not in our merit, but in God’s mercy; the reward for which we are encouraged to look is not of debt, but of grace. And supposing it a very small and inconsiderable thing, yet, upon all the principles of reason, it is encouragement to do what otherwise we are indifferently bound and obliged to do. But the abundant grace of our God in Christ Jesus hath invited us to expect an abundant reward; and whatever force there is in hope to move men to action, is all bent to push them on to well-doing, by a just view of that reward which God hath promised. If hope can stimulate men to vigour and vigilence in any case, it wants not something to look for in the course of well-doing and on a better foundation than can be attained respecting any comfort in life.

The time when this blessed reward shall be conferred. That is the great day when our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ shall appear. And if we consider the design and manner of this appearance we shall see abundant reason to live soberly, righteously, and godly in expectation of it.

1. The design of it is to judge the world in righteousness, to call every man to account for his conduct in life, and render to every one according to his works. Then the godly shall receive the glorious reward of eternal life with glorious advantages, as we shall see more particularly if we consider

2. The manner of that appearance which is here expressed by a peculiar epithet, serving to distinguish it from all other appearances, particularly from His first appearance in our nature.

The temper and turn of mind fit and necessary to give these arguments their proper influence upon us. Looking is in Scripture common style to express the principles and disposition of the mind with respect to things Divine and heavenly. And with regard to the blessed hope and glorious appearing here mentioned, it means

1. A firm persuasion of the truth and reality of those things. No wonder if they are ungodly and slaves to worldly lusts who look not for a future reckoning.

2. Looking for the blessed reward signifies a lively hope of obtaining it, which, on that very account, is called the blessed hope.

3. Looking here denotes an earnest longing, an ardency of desire to obtain the blessed hope, and see the blessed day when Christ shall appear.

4. Looking for the blessed hope means a constant and habitual attention to this as the chief end and object we ought to have in view. (Wm. Best.)

The glorious expectation

The life of the believer now is one of expectation. We are “looking for.”

1. Our condition is one of continual expansion--growth in grace. The child is never satisfied. Clothes become too small, toys loose their charm, sympathies are enlarging, and he is constantly looking for something else. The child of God is in that position--the heart is enlarging, and expectation is the natural result.

2. The resources of the gospel are unfolding, The love of God swells, the Cross of Jesus is higher, and communion with the Saviour is closer. Travellers continued their search until they found the great lakes in Central Africa which form the watershed of the Nile. So the streams of grace lead us on to the fountain. Our course is God-ward.

The life of the believer hereafter will be one of realisation. So we interpret the words of the apostle--looking for the object or fulfilment of our blessed hope.

1. Jesus is to come to take the government of the Church, and assert His sway over mankind. This is a glorious thought, especially when we remember how little we are able to do in extending His kingdom.

2. Jesus will appear in the last day as the judge of all. He will be accompanied by myriads of saints and angels, not as a root out of the dry ground, without form or comeliness, but in the glory of His Father.

3. Jesus will appear to take home His disciples as they pass through physical death. (Weekly Pulpit.)

The hope of the Church under the gospel dispensation

What this hope is.

Who are entitled to look foe the glorious appearing as a blessed hope to them.

The influence which this blessed hope must have on all who are really possessed of it. (F. Hewson, M. A.)

The blessed hope of grace

Grace teaches us, not only by referring us to the great facts of the past, but also by setting before our awakened hope the sublime and crowning event of the future, and in this respect also she exhibits the superiority of her teaching to that which law could offer. Under the law the future could hardly be contemplated without terror; for who could feel so secure of his legal righteousness as to be able to look forward to that day without a misgiving? We cannot entertain such happy anticipations with respect to the future unless we are quite sure of our own relations to God in the present. Let us put a case. If our Queen were about to make a progress through this realm, and if it was understood that, as soon as she reached the city of York, of one dozen felons confined in the prison yonder, six were to be taken out and promptly executed at the moment of her arrival, while six should be liberated; and if of those twelve felons no single one knew for certain whether he were one of the six that were to be set free, or of the six that were to be executed, is it conceivable under such circumstances that any of those felons would long for and entreat Her Majesty’s speedy advent? Would it not be far more conceivable that they would all, if they were permitted, petition her to defer her visit, and, if possible, to abandon it? Not otherwise must it be with us, as we look forward to this dread event of the future, unless we know that by the saving grace of God we are prepared for it. But while our attitude towards this great event of the future may serve as a test of the reality or unreality of our religion, it may also be employed by the true Christian as a gauge of his spiritual condition. Do we really love His appearing? Is it a subject much in our thoughts? Does it cheer us, or does it make us uncomfortable to think of it? How apt are even those who have known something of the grace of God to take root, as it were, here upon earth, instead of living as strangers and pilgrims! But the love of Christ’s appearing is not only a test of our spiritual health and progress, it may also largely contribute to the promotion of these. The truth is the life and the hope act and react upon each other. Personal godliness must ever strengthen and intensify our hope; but then again our rejoicing in hope will ever stimulate our desires after growth in grace. What the effect of Advent light upon our daily lives must needs be is indicated by numerous passages of Scripture. “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” It is not difficult to understand in how many ways we may be favourably affected in our present personal experience by the thought of this blessed hope. Surely much of the gloomy despondency or depression that frequently paralyses our spiritual activities might be more easily mastered if we only lived more in the Advent light, cheering our hearts with the anticipations of coming glory. But the thought of this blessed hope does more than cheer us amidst the vicissitudes of life; it also tends to strengthen our faith, and thus to invigorate our whole spiritual experience; for while we dwell upon the thought of the complete victory that Christ is one day to win, the thought will naturally suggest itself to our minds, as we return to the consciousness of the present from the hopes of the future, Cannot He who will one day conquer the world conquer even now our old nature? Thus the very contemplation of these glorious prospects in the future proves a source of strength as well as of cheer in the present. But most of all, the thought of this blessed hope is specially designed to induce watchfulness. “Therefore be ye also ready,” cries our blessed Lord; “for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” One other benefit likely to arise from the thought of the glorious appearance of our Saviour, and affecting our conduct and character, suggests itself here. Surely we cannot fail to find in this prospect a mighty stimulus to our zeal. The time is short. Soon the Master will come to take account of His servants. Fain would we be able to say when He appears, as He was able to say to His Father, “I have finished the work that Thou gavest Me to do.” But if this habit of looking for that blessed hope is likely to be productive of so many advantages in our present experience, it may be asked, How is such a habit to be formed? Strangers passing through a hostile land cannot but look forward to a change in their position. Grace teaches us then to love the Lord’s appearing, by reminding us that we are already citizens of the heavenly kingdom, in the revelation of which we are to find a full satisfaction, which cannot be ours amidst the hostile influences of the house of our pilgrimage. We long for the moment when the power of the usurper shall be overthrown, and our King receive the homage which is His due from all, just as a Hushai or Ittai must have longed for the restoration of David, and the downfall of the odious traitor Absalom. Nor does the expectation of the true Christian end even here. He cannot forget that human history is to be crowned by “the marriage of the Lamb.” In that mysterious event of the future the destiny of the creature is to be attained, and the pleasure of the Creator in His own work is to be fulfilled. But it is Grace, and Grace alone, that bids us cherish such hopes as this. Law might train a servant, but could not prepare a bride. To sum up, we may say that Grace teaches us to love Christ’s appearing by revealing to us the mystery of our spiritual union with Him, from which there arises a certain identity of interests, and consequently of desires. As He is, so are we in this present world, “despised and rejected of men”; where He is, there in Him we are in the world of glory--seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, accepted of the Father in the Beloved. As He shall be, such shall we be by and by, when He appears in His kingdom. “We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” Surely it is indeed “a blessed hope,” and every one that hath it must needs “purify himself, even as He is pure.” We see then that while our hope becomes bright and real just in so far as we walk soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, so the cultivation of this blessed hope helps us and stimulates us thus to live. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

The tonic of hopeful life

These words of Goethe, repeated by Carlyle in the happiest and most auspicious moment of his life, ought to be in the heart and on the lips of every earnest man and woman. Half the energy of the world is wasted in vain regrets or in paralysing despair. The world needs, more than anything else, a continual reinforcement of its faith in the noblest things and in its own future. Its mistakes are of small account so long as it is true to high aims and firm in the conviction that they can be realised. The moment of waning faith and fading hope is also, and preeminently, the moment of despair. A glance beneath the surface of any decaying civilisation in the past always discovers an expiring belief in progress; a glance beneath the surface of any advancing and triumphant civilisation always discerns a high, aspiring hope which believes that all things are possible to those that strive. Pessimism, the religion of despair, once generally accepted would paralyse the race. Half the world is weary, faint-hearted, overborne by calamity and sorrow; it needs, most of all, courage, cheer, and the contagious hope that goes from strong men like an atmosphere. There is a surplusage of truth in the world; men know what they ought to do well enough, but they lack the power to do it. What they need above all things is impulse; instruction is to be found on all sides, but power is not so common. Christ started with the conception of a sick and weary world, and He lived and taught that men might be comforted and healed. Strong, buoyant natures forget too often the hourly need of a world that is still sick and weary; the cry of the children does not shadow often enough the sunshine in which they live. The first, the most imperative, duty of every earnest man and women is to be strong, in order that strength may go from them through every channel of expression and activity. Make yourselves rich in hope, in order that you may have the supreme happiness of giving to the poor. There are men and women in every community who have a tonic quality in them, whose very presence inspires hope and reinforces faith. They carry in their faces a revelation of the strength which comes with a strong healthy grasp upon life, and a clear, far-sighted outlook upon its experiences and vicissitudes. They say, with the force of personal example and influence, “We bid you hope.” Is this your message to the men about you?

Waiting the coming of Christ

When I was a boy, just after the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales, it was announced that they were to visit the town in which I lived. On the appointed day a rumour spread amongst the expectant crowd that their route was changed for some reason, so that it was probable they would not come. I shall never forget the appearance of the streets and houses. The streets were thronged with working men, shopkeepers, merchants along with their wives and daughters; the windows and the roofs of the houses were filled with anxious people. They wondered whether the royal pair would come or not, but very few went” away. Many had stood there for six hours when the word came, “They are coming in two hours.” Did the crowd disperse? No; they waited long and patiently to see a face bowing from a carriage window. The Prince never did anything for them, nor did they expect him to do anything for them, but still they waited, and when he passed, rent the air with cheer after cheer to show their loyalty. How many Christians are waiting longingly for the coming of their Prince and King? (D. McEwan.)

The glorious appearing of the great God

The two appearings, and the discipline of grace

Our position.

1. The people of God stand between two appearances (Titus 2:11; Titus 2:13). We live in an age which is an interval between two appearings of the Lord from heaven. Believers in Jesus are shut off from the old economy by the first coming of our Lord. The times of man’s ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. We are divided from the past by a wall of light, upon whose forefront we read the words Bethlehem, Gethsemane, Calvary. We date from the birth of the Virgin’s son: we begin with Anno Domini. All the rest of time is before Christ, and is marked off from the Christian era. The dense darkness of the heathen ages begins to be broken when we reach the first appearing, and the dawn of a glorious day begins. We look forward to a second appearing. Our outlook for the close of this present era is another appearing--an appearing of glory rather than of grace. This is the terminus of the present age. We look from Anno Domini, in which He came the first time, to that greater Anno Domini, or year of our Lord, in which He shall come a second time, in all the splendour of His power, to reign in righteousness, and break the evil powers as with a rod of iron. See, then, where we are: we are compassed about, behind and before, with the appearings of our Lord. Behind us is our trust; before us is our hope.

2. Our position is further described as being in this present world, or age. We are living in the age which lies between the two blazing beacons of the Divine appearings; and we are called to hasten from one to the other. It is but a little time, and He that will come shall come, and will not tarry. Now it is this “present world”: oh, how present it is! How sadly it surrounds us! Yet by faith we count these present things to be unsubstantial as a dream; and we look to the things which are not seen, and not present, as being real and eternal. We hurry through this Vanity Fair: before us lies the Celestial City and the coming of the Lord who is the King thereof.

I have to call your attention to the instruction which is given to us by the grace of God which has appeared unto all men. A better translation would be, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, disciplining us in order that we may deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.”

1. Grace has a discipline. We generally think of law when we talk about schoolmasters and discipline; but grace itself has a discipline and a wonderful training power too. The manifestation of grace is preparing us for the manifestation of glory. What the law could not do, grace is doing. As soon as we come under the conscious enjoyment of the free grace of God, we find it to be a holy rule, a fatherly government, a heavenly training. We find, not self-indulgence, much less licentiousness; but on the contrary, the grace of God both restrains and constrains us; it makes us free to holiness, and delivers us from the law of sin and death by “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

2. Grace has its chosen disciples, for you cannot help noticing that while the eleventh verse says that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” yet it is clear that this grace of God has not exercised its holy discipline upon all men, and therefore the text changes its “all men” into “us.”

3. The discipline of grace, according to the apostle, has three results--denying, living, looking.

(1) When a young man comes to college he usually has much to unlearn. If his education has been neglected, a sort of instinctive ignorance covers his mind with briars and brambles. If he has gone to some faulty school where the teaching is flimsy, his tutor has first of all to fetch out of him what he has been badly taught. The most difficult part of the training of young men is not to put the right thing into them, but to get the wrong thing out of them. We have learned lessons of worldly wisdom and carnal policy, and these we need to unlearn and deny. The Holy Spirit works this denying in us by the discipline of grace.

(2) But then you cannot be complete with a merely negative religion; you must have something positive; and so the next word is living--that “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Observe, that the Holy Ghost expects us to live in this present world, and therefore we are not to exclude ourselves from it. This age is the battle field in which the soldier of Christ is to fight. Society is the place in which Christianity is to exhibit the graces of Christ. You are to shine in the darkness like a light. This life is described in a threefold way

(a) You are, first, to live “soberly”--that is, for yourself. “Soberly” in all your eating and your drinking, and in the indulgence of all bodily appetites--that goes without saying. You are to live soberly in all your thinking, all your speaking, all your acting. There is to be sobriety in all your worldly pursuits. You are to have yourself well in hand: you are to be self-restrained.

(b) As to his fellow men the believer lives “righteously.” I cannot understand that Christian who can do a dirty thing in business. Craft, cunning, over-reaching, misrepresentation, and deceit are no instruments for the hand of godly men. Dishonesty and falsehood are the opposites of godliness. A Christian man may be poor, but he must live righteously: he may lack sharpness, but he must not lack integrity. A Christian profession without uprightness is a lie. Grace must discipline us to righteous living.
(c) Towards God we are told in the text we are to be godly. Every man who has the grace of God in him indeed and of a truth, will think much of God. God will enter into all his calculations, God’s presence will be his joy, God’s strength will be his confidence, God’s providence will be his inheritance, God’s glory will be the chief end of his being, God’s law the guide of his conversation. Now, if the grace of God, which has appeared so plainly to all men, has really come with its sacred discipline upon us, it is teaching us to live in this threefold manner.

(3) Once more, there is looking as well as living. One work of the grace of God is to cause us to be “looking for that blessed hope of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” What is that “blessed hope”? Why, first, that when He comes we shall rise from the dead, if we have fallen asleep; and that, if we are alive and remain, we shall be changed at His appearing. Our hope is that we shall be approved of Him, and shall hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” This hope is not of debt, but of grace: though our Lord will give us a reward, it will not be according to the law of works. We expect to be like Jesus when we shall see Him as He is.

The text sets forth certain of our encouragements.

1. In this great battle for right, and truth, and holiness, what could we do if we were left alone? But our first encouragement is that grace has come to our rescue; for in the day when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared among men, He brought for us the grace of God to help us to overcome all iniquity. He that struggleth now against inbred sin has the Holy Spirit within him to help him. He that goes forth to fight against evil in other men by preaching the gospel has the same Holy Ghost going with the truth to make it like a fire and like a hammer.

2. A second encouragement is that another appearing is coming. He who bowed His head in weakness, and died in the moment of victory, is coming in all the glory of His endless life. When the hour shall strike He shall appear in the majesty of God to put an end to the dominion of sin, and bring in endless peace. Satan shall be bruised under our feet shortly; wherefore comfort one another with these words, and then prepare for further battle. Grind your swords, and be ready for close fighting! Trust in God, and keep your powder dry.

3. Another encouragement is that we are serving a glorious Master. The Christ whom we follow is not a dead prophet like Mahomet. Truly we preach Christ crucified; but we also believe in Christ risen from the dead, in Christ gone up on high, in Christ soon to come a second time. He lives, and He lives as the great God and our Saviour.

4. Then come the tender thoughts with which I finish, the memories of what the Lord has done for us to make us holy: “Who gave Himself for us.” Special redemption, redemption with a wondrous price--“who gave Himself for us.” He died--forget not that--died that your sins might die, died that every lust might be dragged into captivity at His chariot wheels. He gave Himself for you that you might give yourselves for Him. Again, He died that He might purify us--purify us unto Himself. How clean we must be if we are to be clean unto Him! The apostle finishes up by saying that we are to be a people “zealous of good works.” Would to God that all Christian men and women were disciplined by Divine grace till they became zealous for good works! In holiness zeal is sobriety. We are not only to approve of good works, and speak for good works, but we are to be red hot for them. We are to be on fire for everything that is right and true. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Expectation of Christ’s coming

True believers in Jesus Christ look and wish that He may come, as he will be then glorified in a world where he has been set at nought and despised. If the sun, after a whole day’s dark and uninterrupted gloom of clouds, sets in an evening of thick mists and impenetrable darkness, who is there that rejoices not when the next morning opens in a clear and radiant sky, and a full and unclouded effulgence of his splendour? And if Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, thus leaves our world in darkness and reproach, all those who have a sincere and cordial value for Him will hail Him when He returns the second time in His own and His Father’s glories, and will often wish, during the night of His absence, that the hour was come when He shall appear in that might and majesty, in that honour and glory which belong to Him, and by which He will dissipate all the misconstructions concerning Him, as the bright beams of the rising sun scatter the shades of thickest darkness, and pour glory and heat, peace and pleasure, over the face of gladdened nations.

True believers look and wish for the coming of Jesus Christ, in order to put an end to their pain and sorrow. The wound that was inflicted upon our nature at the first grand apostasy has been kept open and bleeding on through all generations; and when we take a view of mankind, what misery and wretchedness from all quarters meet our eyes, and affect our hearts! Not to mention those great capital calamities which with an enormous scythe lay waste whole cities and kingdoms at once, i.e., earthquakes, famines, pestilence, and war. There are many smaller mischiefs that harass and afflict us; I mean the dreadful train of common diseases, from which no city or town, it may be, is ever entirely free, and which often bring us to an untimely grave, even in the very bloom and strength of our constitutions. Add to all this, that pain and sorrow have still a wider spread in our world, from the ten thousand vexations and disappointments of the present state. Such and so various are the pains and sorrows of the present state, but they shall all be ended at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. When this wished for period shall arrive, “God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes,” from what causes soever they have flowed, and “there shall be no sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”

Another reason why true believers look and wish for the second coming of Christ is, because He will at His second coming finish the reign of death. How dismal and distressing is the reign of death at present! What havoc does he make, in a few years, in our world! How many of our dear relatives, the brethren of our flesh, and of our friends, the brethren of our souls, have fallen victims to the power of this great and general destroyer? And we ourselves must soon expect to feel the stroke of this king of terrors. We may literally say that we are dying daily. In the midst of life we are in death. Death has sent us the heralds of his approach, and we hear the sound of his feet and the sharpening of his dart in every disease and pain, in every infirmity and decay that we feel. But when Christ comes, death shall be no more. His prison, the grave, shall be broken up, and his chains, powerful as they may be, shall all be burst asunder. “Because Christ lives, His people shall live also.”

Another reason why true believers look and wish for Christ’s second coming, is taken from the great glory and the consummation of their felicity which they shall then obtain. They are then acknowledged, approved, and welcomed as the children of God, and the brethren and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. And as their positive felicity, their joy without measure and without end, in the presence and fruition of God and the Lamb, lies before them, and ages appear rolling on after ages in the immense eternity, all bright in glory and rich in blessing, so neither is there any possible fear that their bliss shall ever fail, or that the possessors shall ever be removed away from their enjoyments. Lessons:

1. Let our thoughts dwell upon this great and glorious subject. Even the very make of our bodies themselves, though our inferior part, shows us that we are not to grovel upon earth, but to view and contemplate our kindred skies; and shall not our souls mount up from this low world, and its vain scenes, and look forward “to the things which are not seen? As risen wish Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-4). Oh for the telescope of faith to be often lifted up to explore not only the land that is afar off, but the coming of the Prince of it in all His glory! Let us see the heavens opening to give Him a passage unto our earth, the solemn state of His majestic Person, the bright armies of the skies in attendance upon Him, to augment the glory of His coming, and to perform His will.

2. What a miserable portion have those souls who have no interest in the blessedness and glories of this day! To be excluded from a lot and portion in the honours and happiness conferred on the children of God and the redeemed of the Lamb at His second coming, and to be consigned over to the miseries of endless perdition with the devil and his angels; to dwell with devouring flames and everlasting burnings; what a fearful end is here I And if this be the end of sinners, then what avail all their present worldly possessions, pleasures, and honours?

3. Let us give all diligence that we may be prepared for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us keep this solemn day in our continual view, and let none of the vanities of this life be ever suffered to intercept its prospect, or darken its glories. And whilst we contemplate it, let us be getting ready for it. Let us be concerned that our corruptions may be more and more subdued, and that our graces may be more and more exercised and strengthened. (J. King, B. A.)

Our state of expectation and the reasons for it

It is clear that the nature of our expectation depends upon the nature of the promises which excite it; it will be more or less strong and definite as they are more or less so. Now when we examine these promises, we find in them a remarkable mixture of certainty and of uncertainty; certainty as to the event--uncertainty as to the time of its occurrence. History, as well as prophecy, viewed as a whole, gives the Christian student the same result--certainty, and yet uncertainty; assuring us of His coming, and yet leaving the time of that coming a mystery. And the nature of our expectation must, as we have said, correspond to the nature of the revelation which excites it: it, too, must be thus certain, and yet uncertain. We are fully persuaded as to the event; doubtful, and in anxious suspense, as to the time of it;--now “lifting up our heads because our redemption draweth nigh,” now saying, “Why tarry the wheels of His chariot?” Now full of joy at some sign accomplished--now filled with sadness at finding that it is yet to be fulfilled: fear mingling with our hope, and yet hope brightening our despondency; but, through all, sustained by the assured certainty of the event which so perplexes us by the uncertainty of its arrival.

But we have now to inquire why we are thus kept in this state of uncertainty. The answer to this question is to be found in that fact which explains so much that is difficult in Scripture, namely, that this present dispensation is merely preparatory to another. The whole life of each Christian, and, therefore, the whole life of the Church, is the time given for the acquisition of that character which we shall need in heaven. To this, every event in our life, every arrangement in our dispensation, was designed to be conducive; and, if you bear this in mind, you will see how it was necessary that there should be this mixture of assured certainty and anxious suspense in our expectation of the Lord’s second coming. In the first place, the fact that Christ shall come must be clear and indubitable, in order to fix, steadily, the hope of the Church, in all ages, upon Christ, her future King. Beyond time, and the things of time--above its mists and its storms, we must see, and see clearly, Jesus Christ our King. It is for this reason that the coming of Christ is assured to us by every possible assurance that can be given, so that doubt concerning it is, to him who believes the Bible, impossible. This much, then, of our present state is clearly intelligible: we can see why the fact of the second advent should be certain; but why should the time be uncertain?--why are we in this state of anxious suspense as to when our Lord is to appear? We understand this when we remember that besides the general purpose of giving us a love for, and a dependence upon, Christ, by setting His coming before us as the one thing to be looked for, the promise of His coming is to have certain special effects upon us; it is to produce in us certain particular tempers and feelings--two especially: it was designed to comfort us under trial, and also to be a strong motive to watchfulness. Had the time of our Lord’s second coming been known from the first it would have utterly frustrated the design of making this life a state of probation and of gradual sanctification. The early Church would have been languidly indifferent; the later Church intensely and absorbingly expectant: the one would have been tried above measure, the other have had no trials at all. The one would have been patient, but not watchful; the other would be watchful, but not patient; neither, in the true sense of the word, could have been said to wait for the coming of Christ. But if, on the contrary, the date of this event is concealed, and the prophecies and signs of it so contrived that at any given moment there may be reason for thinking it to be near at hand, and reasons, also, for pronouncing it to be far off; if now it needs the straining gaze of ardent faith to catch a glimpse of it, and now it seems advancing full upon our view; if now it seems to approach, and now to recede, so that the earlier Church might sometimes deem it nigh, and the latest generation sometimes think it far off, then at all times, and in all ages, would this event have its full practical effect upon the Church.

But this is not the only reason why the time of his coming should be thus uncertain. So far we have been viewing it with reference only to the saints; it may, and should, be viewed with reference to the ungodly. To those who love Him not, as well as to those who do, it is said, “Behold, I come quickly.” And what is the promise of the second advent meant to be to such? A solemn warning; and a fearful snare if they neglect that warning. (Abp. Magee.)

The second advent of Christ

An important character.

1. His Divine character--“the great God.” “Great” in majesty, wisdom, knowledge, power, love. Crowned with all perfections peculiar to Deity.

2. His relative character--“our Saviour.”

3. In this combined and glorious character He will make His second appearance.

An important event.

1. Sudden.

2. Glorious.

3. A contrast to His first appearance in humiliation.

An important exercise. “Looking for,” etc. (Homilist.)

The coming of Christ

Christ comes to the penitent soul in conversion.

Christ comes to the tried and afflicted Christian to help and comfort.

Christ comes to the diligent servant to encourage and aid him.

Christ comes to the dying Christian to receive his spirit. (F. Wagstaff.)

The appearing of Christ

An exalted character.

1. God.

2. Saviour.

An interesting event.

1. His own appearing will be glorious. “His countenance will be as the sun shineth in his strength.”

2. The manner of His appearing will be glorious. He will take the clouds for His chariot; He will come in the clouds with power and great glory.

3. The attendants at His appearing will be glorious. An innumerable multitude of celestial spirits will grace His train and perform His will.

4. The circumstances of His appearing will be glorious. The heavens will pass away with a great noise; the dead shall be raised; the Son of Man shall ascend His great tribunal, and before Him shall be gathered all nations; the final sentence will be pronounced and executed.

A joyful expectation.

1. The hope of a blessed resurrection.

2. The hope of a blessed mansion.

3. The hope of a blessed society.

4. The hope of obtaining the most blessed enjoyments.

5. The hope of being employed in the most blessed services.

The believer’s conduct in the prospect of this blessedness. “Looking for that blessed hope,” etc. What is meant by this expression?

1. It includes a full conviction of the certainty of Christ’s appearing. The ground of our persuasion is the Word of God. Our faith is built on the Divine testimony.

2. To look for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ is to love and desire His appearing.

3. To look for the appearing of Jesus Christ is to wait patiently for it.

4. In looking for the appearing of Christ the believer makes it His constant study to be always ready for His appearing, so to have his lamps trimmed that he may be prepared, at a moment’s warning, to meet the bridegroom. (The Pulpit.)

The future state

The present state is not permanent, neither do its circumstances render it desirable that it should be so. Its perishing hopes, groundless fears, profitless pursuits, faithless friendships, its toils, stripes, afflictions, make it far from happy. The Christian, then, looks for something better. The future state

1. Is necessary to solve the mysteries of Providence.

2. Is requisite to complete human happiness.

3. Is the end of the Christian faith.

4. Is the declared purpose of God.

5. Is advisable as a development. (Homilist.)

The glorious appearing of Christ

In view of such an experience, made sure to us in the near future, our religion should be a source of perpetual comfort and joyous expectation.

Present ills and seeming losses and self-denials should be borne with resignation and composure, in view of the imminence of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, to finish His appointed work and reward His faithful ones.

There is no influence so potent on the faith, heart, and life of the Christian, as the near and daily contemplation of this revelation of Jesus Christ in the power and glory of heaven to consummate His work of grace and His reign of love. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

The revisers’ rendering of this passage

“The appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Among the foolish charges which have been brought against the revisers is that of favouring Arian tendencies by blurring those texts which teach the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The present passage would be a sufficient answer to such a charge. In the A.V. we have “the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” where both the Wording and the comma make it clear that “the great God” means the Father and not our Saviour. The revisers, by omitting the comma, for which there is no authority in the original, and by placing the “our” before both substantives, have given their authority to the view that St. Paul means both “great God” and “Saviour” to apply to Jesus Christ. It is not any Epiphany of the Father which is in his mind, but the “Epiphany of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The wording of the Greek is such that absolute certainty is not attainable; but the context, the collocation of the words, the use of the word “Epiphany,” and the omission of the article before “Saviour,” all seem to favour the revisers’ rendering. And, if it be adopted, we have here one of the plainest and most direct statements of the Divinity of Christ to be found in Scripture. As such it was employed in the Arian controversy, although Ambrose seems to have understood the passage as referring to the Father and Christ, and not to Christ alone. The force of what follows is enhanced if the revisers’ rendering, which is the strictly grammatical rendering, is maintained. It is as being “our great God” that He gave Himself for us, that He might “redeem us from all iniquity”; and it was because He was God as well as man, that what was uttered as a bitter taunt was really a glorious truth;--“He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” (A. Plummer, D. D.)

Who gave Himself for us

Christ’s gift to us, and ours to Him

The unspeakable and all-powerful gift. Christ began to give Himself when from the depths of eternity He passed within the limitations of men, and, drawn by our need, and impelled by filial obedience and fraternal love, entered within the conditions of our existence, “and, forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, Himself likewise took part of the same.” It was much that Christ should stretch out His hand to bless, should “give His back to the smiter and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair,” and bear His cross on His own shoulders, and should be fastened to it on Calvary. Did you ever think that it was perhaps more that He should have a hand with which to bless, and a back to be bared to the scourge, a cheek that did not flush with one angry spot when rude spittings were shot upon it and traitorous kisses touched it; shoulders to bear His cross, and a body to be nailed upon it. Why had He these but because, ere He had them, He gave Himself for us? And so, having its roots in eternity, that gift included all His wonderful self-oblivious and world-blessing life and culminated in the death upon the cross. But then, mark still further, that the apostle here gives us another thought which deepens the wonderfulness and the preciousness of this gift; for, speaking to a man who had never come near Jesus Christ in the flesh, and including in his words the whole race of mankind to the last syllable of recorded time, he declares that “He gave Himself for us.” How did He give Himself for us unless in the giving He had the knowledge of us and His heart turned to us; unless when He yielded Himself to life and to death, the thoughts of all the men in the world, and that should thereafter be in it, were the motives that impelled Him? And how did “He give Himself for us” unless He gave Himself for me and for thee?

The redeeming power of the gift. It is noteworthy, that here, in the apostle’s summing up of the great purpose of the life and death of Jesus Christ, he isolates from all other consequences of that mighty fact, blessed as those are, and selects as the sole object to he considered this power to deliver men from the bondage of evil. Jesus Christ died for--not only that He might redeem you from the penalties of sin, nor from its guilt, but that He might redeem you from doing it. You want more than culture, more than the morality of prudence, more than education of conscience, in order to weaken passion and to strengthen will, so that a man may shake off the bondage of the evil which he has done, and may begin to walk in newness of life. I know of no power that enables a poor man, beset and burdened by torturing tyrants of his own passions, and feeble against the strong seductions of outward temptation, to stand fast and overcome them all, shaking their fetters from his emancipated limbs, but the realisation of that infinite sacrifice, that changeless Divine human love, that mighty pure Brother’s life, from which there flow into men’s hearts motives and powers and impulses which, and which alone, are strong enough to make them free.

The answering gift that corresponds to, and is evoked by, Christ’s gift of himself. The only way by which we can win another for ourselves is by giving ourselves to that other. Hearts are only bought by hearts; love’s flame can only be kindled by love’s flame. The only way by which one spiritual being can possess another is when the possessed loves and yields to the love of the possessor. And thus Jesus Christ makes us His own by giving Himself to us for our own. There is no power known in humanity that can, I was going to say, decentralise a human life and lift it clean off its pivot of self except the power of the unspeakable love of Jesus Christ on the cross. We revolve round our own centres, self is our centre; but that great Sun of Righteousness has mass enough to draw hearts and lives from their little orbit, and to turn them into satellites of its own. And then they move in music and in light around the Sun of their souls.

The enthusiasm for good which that great gift will kindle. “Zealous of good works.” The apostle means substantially the same thing as he and the others mean by “righteousness”--the deeds of all kinds which correspond to men’s place and power--“whatsoever things are lovely and of good report.” He thinks that if a man has rightly pondered and yielded himself to the influence of that serene and supreme example of a beautiful work, Christ’s giving of Himself for us, he will not only do such works, but be passionately desirous of opportunities for doing them. It is a deal easier to be zealous for the Church, for a society, for a political or religious party or school, for a movement or a cause, than to be “zealous for good works.” And all that zeal is froth unless the other be with it. All Christ’s flock are earmarked thus. They are zealous for good. They like and they seek for good works. (A. Mclaren, D. D.)

The great redemption

How great a theme--how glorious a work is this! To redeem a few bodies from slavery, what has it cost! To effect but a partial alleviation of their suffering, a prospective and future freedom, what efforts, what sacrifices, what a hard and protracted struggle have been necessary! But we “are not redeemed with silver and gold from our vain conversation (that is, our life of iniquity), but with the precious blood of Christ.”

We notice what was the implied condition of mankind that induced jesus Christ to undertake this arduous work on their behalf. We were under the influence of moral evil.

1. We were held under the sentence of the supreme law--a law undeniably just and pure, calculated to maintain the prerogatives of the sovereign Lord, and worthy of being feared as the expression of His righteous will.

2. The human soul, created at first in God’s image, was polluted and degraded. As a temple now in ruins, desecrated, and perverted from its original purpose, no longer fit for him to inhabit.

3. The condemnation and pollution of the soul involved its ultimate, if not its present misery--the loss of all pure felicity and pure immortality. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”--a privation of all happiness, a subjection to all suffering.

We observe what it is here said Christ did for us--He gave Himself for us--This, under any view, was an act of stupendous goodness and compassion. But its peculiar features must be distinctly traced.

1. The Person who gave Himself. The Father’s co-equal and co-eternal Son, whom angels worship and devils dread, whom the universe acknowledges as its author. He gave Himself for us, a ransom price of ineffable excellence and worth!

2. What was the deed? The most entire self-sacrifice. He gave Himself, net only to teach us, comfort us, labour for us, but to die for us.

3. The unparalleled magnanimity of the act. Who so great as He? who so mean as we? What being so glorious as He? who so worthless as we?

Let us distinctly appreciate his purpose, or the end of his wondrous self-devotement. To redeem us from all iniquity.

1. To rescue us from the sentence pronounced upon all iniquity by the Divine law; and this by being made a curse for us. The law has no more power over you.

2. To redeem us from the dominion of sin in our hearts and minds. He designed that we should not continue slaves of iniquity, vassals of Satan, and victims of guilt. What a noble purpose, to regenerate that which was so degenerate, and restore that which was in ruins, and purify that which was so polluted!

3. His design included the recovery of our immortal life; for to redeem from all iniquity must signify to redeem from all the effects, all the consequences, all the privations and inflictions which iniquity in all its possible relations can incur.

We notice how this deed of his effects the purpose he proposed.

1. His death is the moral substitute for ours; or that great moral consideration on account of which God is pleased to pardon sin, to accept the repenting sinner, and justify the ungodly who believes in Jesus. Here we can perceive that there is a reasonable foundation for the practical display of the Divine love to lost souls. It is a conception of the Divine and infinite mind, and evidently worthy of that mind, since it is “glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”

2. We may perceive, also, that the sacrifice of Christ becomes the basis on which Divine influences are granted to renovate fallen man. The Holy Spirit becomes our sanctifier, because Christ has restored us to Divine favour, satisfied the law, and removed every barrier to our adoption.

3. The discovery of this grand fact of Christ’s sacrifice is found the most efficient, indeed the only successful, means of recovering us to a sincere obedience and a lively hope of glory. This works the great moral miracle of transforming a heart of stone to one of flesh, a heart of sin to one of virtue, a heart of enmity to one of love. Application:

1. Can we say, “He hath loved me, and given Himself for me”? Then let us prove our vital union by all the fruits of godliness.

2. Can we find no evidence that we are redeemed from our iniquity? then let us fear the impending issue, and flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. (The Evangelist.)

’s gift of Himself for our redemption

The person here spoken of “The great God,” etc.

The gift.

1. The dignity of the person bestowing it.

2. The sacrifice at which it is made.

3. Its value.

4. The motive which impelled the donor to bestow it--love.

5. The benefit which accompanies it. (A. Alexander, D. D.)

Christ’s gift of Himself

In that Christ gave Himself

1. We learn that there can be neither other priest nor other sacrifice than Christ Himself: both which our apostle accurately noteth in a diverse phrase, which at the first seem to sound the self-same; neither doth our English so distinguish them as the Greek doth. The former is in our text, which more properly betokeneth that Christ offered no other oblation or sacrifice than Himself: hence is it said that for this end God gave Christ a body, that in the same He might perform this part of His Father’s will. The latter is in 1 Timothy 2:6, which implieth more directly that Christ Himself gave Himself, and that there can be no other priest in this oblation than He that is the sacrifice: neither, indeed, can He be offered of any other save Himself, who for this purpose “sanctified Himself,” as the altar sanctifieth the gift and the temple the gold.

2. In that it is said that Christ gave Himself we may note that He gave Himself wholly, both His body and soul, in sacrifice, and spared neither: for we had deserved a double death which it was meet that Christ by a double death should destroy; by His bodily death pull out the sting of the death of our bodies, and utterly abolish the death of our souls by the death of His soul; and to this purpose, that our consolation might be full, the Scripture showeth how that His soul was heavy unto the death, and that a little before His suffering His soul was sore troubled. And Isaiah expressly affirmeth that His soul travailed in His death, and that He made His soul an offering for sin and poured out His soul unto death, and that He made His grave with the rich in His death: where note, that he speaketh in the plural number to note this double death of Christ; and what other thing did Himself proclaim with such a loud voice upon the cross when He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” For what other is the death of the soul but to be separated from God, the fountain of life? which point helpeth us to understand such places of the Scripture as affirm that Christ suffered and died according to the flesh (John 6:51), and that Christ offered His body (Hebrews 10:10), and all those which ascribe all our salvation to the blood of Christ. All which must be synecdochically understood, under one kind comprehending all His suffering and never excluding any part of it, every one of them being equivalent to this speech of the apostle, “who gave Himself”: that is, both His body and soul, or wholly unto the death; neither can the death of the cross be other, which is joined with the malediction of God from which we by it were wholly delivered.

3. Where it is said that Christ gave Himself it may be further noted that His whole passion and death was voluntary; for what is more free than gift? and this appeareth in that He was wont to say beforehand that He must go away unto His Father, that He must leave the world and His disciples, that He had power to lay down His life and take it up again and that no man could take it from Him; for who could take that life from Him, whose sinless nature of itself was not obnoxious to death, it being the stipend of sin? (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Christ must be received

1. If Christ gave Himself for us, then suffered He not for His own sins, for He knew no sin, being most holy in His conception, without original sin; according to the word of the angel “That holy thing that shall be born of thee” (Luke 1:35); as also most innocent in all His life, for no guile was found in His mouth; and who could accuse Him of sin, of which innocency, not only His friends, the prophets and apostles, but His greatest foes also, by God’s providence, became witnesses? Pilate’s wife wished her husband to have nothing to do with that just man. Pilate himself confessed he found no fault in Him. The centurion said, surely this man was the Son of God. Caiaphas said, that one man must die, not for Himself, but for the people; the thief on the cross, “this man hath done nothing amiss.” Nay, Judas himself cried out that he had betrayed innocent blood; not to speak anything of the many confessions of the devils themselves, that He was the Son of the Most High.

2. If Christ have given Himself for us, we must receive this gift and the benefit of it, seeing a gift not received is to no purpose or profit. And the means to receive Christ and apply Him with all His benefits is

(1) To know Him, for darkness comprehendeth Him not; and He came to His own, but they not knowing Him received Him not, but crucified Him, whom had they known, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory.

(2) By prizing the gift above gold, silver, pearls; esteeming the precious blood of the immaculate Lamb above every corruptible thing under the sun, all which cannot redeem our soul.

(3) By opening the door of the heart, purified by faith, to entertain Him, while He offereth Himself with all His merits in the Word and sacraments, and this not as a stranger, by giving a night’s lodging, but as our husband and head, never to be departed.

3. It Christ has given Himself so willingly to such a cursed death for us, we must also in way of thankfulness give ourselves unto Him. He gave His body, His soul, His glory, and all for us; we must not think much to part with body, goods, name, liberty, or life itself, for His sake, when He calleth us unto Him. The law of thankfulness requireth that we should part with such things as in comparison are but trifles for Him, who thinketh not His dearest things too good for us; and the rather, because when we have done all we can, we can never be sufficiently thankful for this greatest gift that ever was given to the sons of men; we can never speak sufficiently of it, nor ever wade deep enough into the ocean of that love that presenteth us with such a gift as this is. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Christ’s gift of Himself for us

The person refeered to. Show

1. His Divinity.

2. His humanity.

3. Union of both.

4. Superiority to angels and all other existences.

What this person did. “Gave Himself for us.”

1. Voluntarily.

2. Personally.

3. Sacrificially.

The purpose for which he gave himself for us.

1. To “redeem” or deliver us; not from poverty, or affliction, or death, but from “iniquity”--all iniquity--its guilt, condemnation, power, inbeing, consequences.

2. To “purify” us; to separate us unto Himself from the world and sin; “a peculiar people”--in nature, names, possessions.

3. “Zealous of good works”--not passive, but active.

Lessons: Our redemption is

1. Wrought out by love and blood.

2. Entire and perfect.

3. Into blessed experience and useful living. (Local Preachers Treasury.)

The duty of using one’s life for others

“Who gave Himself for us.” We are familiar with the expression that Jesus Christ gave His life for man. I would not take anything away from the meaning and magnitude of the act of dying; but I should be glad to give more emphasis and power to the fact that Christ gave His life as much while He was living as while He was dying, and that to give life may mean either to use it or to lay it down. All Christ’s was a giving. Although comprehensively viewed, it was a single gift, yet it was a continuous gift, developing in every direction. It was a multiple force, ever varying. It was one prolonged giving of Himself away to others. For He lived not for Himself. He sought not His own. He did not employ His reason, nor His moral sentiments, nor His active forces, nor His time, nor His power, for Himself. He honoured His Father, and sought the welfare of men. And the three years, or nearly three, that preceded His death, were in some respects a far more remarkable gift than was the death itself. And in the case of our Divine Lord, He gave Himself both while living and while dying. So the lesson to be derived, it seems to me, from many of the descriptions of Christ’s gift of Himself, is a lesson to be pondered in regard to the use of our lives, rather than in regard to their termination. We give our life best, not when we die, but while yet we are living. It is true that men often give their lives in some sense as Christ did; but the more obvious and the more common and attainable imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ is that which seeks to imitate His life, rather than His death. No man can give his life for the world as Christ did. Though a man may give his life for the world, no man can stand sinless; but He did. No man is related to God as was the Saviour. From no man reaches out those threads which connect him with the spiritual and invisible realm as Christ was connected with it. What the other side influence was I have said we do not know; but that there was one we are told. And this we cannot have. Here is a grand official difference. There is a universal character belonging to the influence of the death of Christ which does not and cannot belong to that of any man. Yet, in so far as moral influence is exerted by one’s death on his fellow men, it is possible, though in a far lower sphere, and in a far less degree, that we should follow and imitate our Lord by giving our life for one another. Every patriot who is sacrificed, on account of the heroic fidelity of his life, to the public weal; every martyr whose blood is shed as a seal and witness of that holy faith by which he would illumine and bless the world; every prisoner lingering in dungeons, and, with long dying, suffering unseen and forgotten by the multitude for whose welfare his life is spent; every man who goes forth to lands of fever and malaria, and to early death, knowing that he carries religion, civilisation, and liberty to the ignorant at the price of his own life, and cheerfully dies in the harness there, where men, being most degraded and thankless, are on that very account more needful of this very sacrifice of some one--all these, and all others whose death is brought about by persistent adhesion to the welfare of men, follow their Lord not less really because the sphere is lower and narrower. They follow their Lord in death and, through death. While, then, it is possible, literally, to give our life for others, and while we may sometimes be called in the performance of our duty to do it, so that we shall not say that dying for others is antiquated; yet, in the main, if we are to follow our Lord, and to give our lives for others, it must be by the use which we make of those lives. Now, he who devotes the active hours of his life to those spheres to which Providence calls men, is really giving himself for others. When a man stands upon the deck, and at the bench, and by the forge, and in the furrow, and in the colliery--then, if ever, if he has a life to live of true piety, is the time; and there, at the post of duty, is the place. For all the humblest avocations and employments are so arranged that, while they serve to support the actor, they do a hundred times as much for the community as they do for him that follows them. Why, that old smith, rugged himself, almost, as the storms he prepares to combat, hammers morning and night upon the links that form the chain which clasps the cable. It may be, as in the olden time, yet more ponderously, that he in the smithy works on the huge shank of the anchor, and when his summer’s work or winter’s toil is done, and it is sold for the ship, men ask him, “What got you for your labour?” Nobody ever thinks of saying to him, “You have worked a whole winter to make a gift; what have you given to the community? What has he given? It may not be known for a long time. On voyage after voyage the ship goes, and there lies his gift useless and unsuspected. Some day the ship bears back a thousand precious souls, among them mothers whose flowers lie at home waiting for them to return; fathers, who cannot be spared from the neighbourhood; public men of signal service--the very salt of the times in which they live; heroes and patriots many. Then it is that the storm beats clown and seeks to whelm them all in the sea, and to whelm the community in mourning. Then it is that, when every other effort has been made in vain, the anchor is thrown out. And now the storm rages with increased violence, as if it were yet more angry because it is thwarted. But the good blacksmith’s work holds. Sinking far out of sight, and grappling the foundations of the earth, it will not let go. And we, for the first time, see the value of his gift. Every link has been properly welded; and, though the wind howls, and the sea wages a fierce and desperate battle, and the strain is tremendous, the storm passes by, and there rides the gallant ship safe! There is what he gave. He gave a chain, an anchor, to the community, and salvation to the hundreds on board the ship, and joy and peace where the tidings came of souls saved from the remorseless deep. And yet, how many men think simply that he made an anchor, and got so many hundred dollars for it! He made an anchor and saved a hundred lives. So men that fill our houses with conveniences, with comforts, with various instruments by which our time is redeemed to higher and nobler uses; men that make implements--they give my brain a gift. He that makes a machine emancipates me. For if matter cannot be made to toil upon matter, then men must toil upon it. And just in proportion as you make slaves--the only slaves that are fit for this world--machine slaves--just in that proportion you redeem the mind to greater leisure, and to a larger sphere for the moral functions of manhood. And all men that labour thus productively and skilfully are real benefactors of the community. Let every man, then, follow the occupation that God has given him, and understand that in following it he is rendering a service to his fellow men; and let him feel, “I am honoured in these appointed channels of God’s providence, that I am permitted to give my life for my fellow men--that is, to live it for them.” Now, in proportion as you are noble, in proportion as God has made you wise and stronger than anybody else, in proportion as study and opportunity have refined you and cultured you--in that proportion God requires that you should give the benefit of your gifts and attainments to the whole community. You cannot follow Christ except you do it. Lastly, consider the wickedness of what seldom passes for a wicked life. I am not speaking of a life of vice and of crime, which is the diseased form of all wickedness--wickedness carried to its most morbid condition, But see how, all through life, men of repute, men of standing, men of influence, men that are praised while they live and are eulogised when they die, are men that are given to the lust of pride and vanity. They live inordinately for themselves. They do not actually do harm, it may be; but they are men who are full of ambition all for themselves. They are like the oak which stands in the night to gather dew for itself, and then, if the wind in the morning shakes it, is willing to part with the few drops that it really cannot hold on to; and they call themselves benevolent! There are men that spread abroad gigantic arms, and gather the wealth of heaven--whatever God’s bounty can give them--meaning it all for themselves; and a few accidental drops of kindness here and there give them some claim to generosity and benevolence. But where are the channels into which their life flows? Where are the uses that these great forces, concentrating in them, subserve? They live for pride, for vanity--the meanest of all feelings when it is in excess--and for self. They live for everything but others. You need not be a criminal, you need not be a very wicked man, you may neither riot or debauch, you may neither steal nor gamble; and yet, you may live stained, leprous, spotted, and hideous before God, before all holy angels, and before right-thinking men. Your life may be a vast activity; and yet may be a huge vortex where everything tends to that centre--self. And that is to be wicked enough. You do not need to be any wickeder. And yet, you may be as wicked as that, and still be very respectable in the eyes of men. This question comes home very nearly to us. What we are doing for others is to measure our following the Lord Jesus Christ; and not what we are doing of necessity, but what we are doing on purpose, what we are doing consciously, what we are striving to do, what we put our heart and soul into. If there be any of you, then, that desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and to give yourselves for others, as He gave Himself for our comfort, living or dying ye are the Lord’s--lying or dying, and the one as much as the other. (H. W. Beecher.)

That He might redeem us from all iniquity

The redemption from lawlessness

When we hear that we are not under the law, there is a danger of our allowing ourselves to feel a vague impression that the requirements of the gospel cannot be quite so strict, and that we are now a good deal more free to take our own way than if we were under the old bond of legal restraint. A general laxity of moral tone has too often been disguised under a title of Christian liberty; and a reference to the consolations of the gospel and the provisions of grace has too frequently prevented any serious distress and contrition at the consciousness of the inconsistencies and shortcomings of an unholy, self-indulgent life. In making the Christian revelation, God has been careful to guard against such an abuse of gospel truth by exhibiting side by side, as correlative and mutually dependent truths, the proclamation of pardon, and the provision for holiness. If we fall into the Antinomian snare, it will be not only in spite of the plain teaching of Christ, but also in defiance of the great moral lesson exhibited in the Atonement. “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity,” that is the negative object of the teaching of grace; and purify “unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” that is the eternal and positive purpose of God towards the elect bride of His Divine Son. The word translated in our version of this passage--iniquity--might literally be rendered lawlessness, and suggests the moral attitude and condition of him who is altogether ignorant of, or indifferent to, the claims of the Divine law, or who wantonly sets them at defiance. From such a state of soul and habit of life Christ is here represented by St. Paul as dying to redeem us, and we may add, from all that in any way savours of or leads up to these; for it is from all lawlessness that we are redeemed, whatever specific form it may assume. Let us consider a little more closely how our natural disposition towards lawlessness is affected by the influences of true Christian experience; in other words, how grace guards against or triumphs over lawlessness. This life of lawlessness is quite compatible with knowledge of the law; indeed it only assumes its worst moral type when the sinner is familiar with the law’s claims and sanctions, just as the worst criminals are those who know that the State has enacted laws against the crimes they are committing, and who yet continue to commit them; but, whether ignorant of it or familiar with it, the lawless will resent or endeavour to evade legal restraint, and to a greater or less extent act as though no law existed. The great attraction of the life of lawlessness is the liberty which it seems to promise. The lawless soul recognises no superior authority, and is ready to ask defiantly, “Who is Lord over us?” For while the life of lawlessness appears to be a life of liberty, when we come to examine it a little more closely, we make the startling discovery that it is really a life of skilfully concealed bondage. The truth is, that lawlessness itself becomes a law, and operates with inexorable force upon those who have sought their liberty in it--the apostle calls it “the law of sin and death.” We may illustrate this by referring to the analogies of social life. We know well that in human society lawlessness must mean tyranny. Any one member of society who acts out of law will be sure to infringe the rights of some other which the law was designed to protect. The thief leads a life of lawlessness, but it is at the expense of others on whom he preys. Lawlessness must ever mean the subjection of the weaker to the stronger, and from this we may judge what must inevitably be the condition of the lawless man. If in such an one the higher elements were really the stronger, no worse consequences perhaps might happen than the production of a morbid asceticism or a stoical insensibility; but unhappily with such this is not the case. The lawless man, by his very lawlessness, is cut off from God, and therefore from all those holier influences which might have stimulated these higher elements of his nature, and enabled them to hold their own, while by the same lawlessness he is exposed to the influence of the great author of lawlessness, with whose spirit in this respect he is in perfect sympathy. Hence the lower elements in the man’s nature, in one form or another, are sure to carry all before them, and to exercise a certain tyrannous supremacy by virtue of the right of the stronger. Thus we see that there comes into existence a certain law of lawlessness, which is the most execrable of all forms of slavery, and which binds, as with an iron yoke of bondage, those who, to realise their foolish dream of independence, have turned their back on the law of God. Lawlessness becomes law, and when, wearied with the tyranny of lawless forces, the lawless heart would fain return to a state of allegiance to law, it finds itself precluded from doing so by that anarchical force, that other law in the members, which will not submit to the dictates of the will, any more than to the commands of God. Herein lies the most startling illustration perhaps that can be found of that dread law of Nemesis in which the ancients believed so firmly, and not without good cause. By and by voluntary yielding becomes compulsory submission, and he is the slave to a greater or less extent of that habit of lawlessness to which he has surrendered himself. But there is more than this to be said. When we consider the position of God as the moral Governor of the universe, it is easy to see that it is a just and righteous thing that they who reject His authority should be allowed to find their punishment in their own miserable experiences, that He should ordain the self-imposed tyranny of lawlessness to be the scourge of lawlessness. But if this be so, this cursed bondage comes upon the lawless not merely as a natural sequel attributable to the force of habit, but as a part of the effect o! that Divine law of retribution which backs with terrible sanctions the revealed law of God, the complete effects of which will be exhibited in the doom of the lost. Now if a man turn his back upon his allegiance to the law, it will follow a s a matter of right as well as of necessity that he shall fall under the supremacy of the great lawbreaker, and become the slave of that spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Hence, although Satan’s authority over us is a usurpation, yet there is a certain sense in which his sway is backed by right. We have given him a claim over our desecrated nature by our wilful apostasy from God. Sin and death form as much the subjective law of the sinner’s experience as life and holiness constitute the law of the experience of the saint. Just as this outward world itself has laws of its own laid down by infinite wisdom, which regulate its motion and form its character; as every flower of the field is possessed of a law of its own, in obedience to which it assumes a certain form, and passes through a definite process of development; even so the experience of the lawless has a certain subjective character, and is governed by laws which belong to it. As nature has fixed laws of its own, so fallen nature has fixed laws of its own; and this law of fallen nature, the law of sin and death, springs into existence, as I have been endeavouring to show, as the direct Nemesis of sin. With these thoughts present to our mind, clearly discerning that lawlessness works out its own Nemesis and prepares its own retribution, we proceed to ask how can man he saved from penalties so justly incurred, and delivered from those legal provisions which render him the victim of his own lawlessness? St. Paul’s words in the passage supply us with the only satisfactory answer, revealing to us an undertaking that was indeed worthy of a God. In one way only could a means be provided to enable those who had become the lawful captives of the anarchical powers of darkness to pass from that condition into lawful liberty. Whatever God does must be in accordance with law. God’s dealings with humanity must be consistent with His dealings with other intelligences. God cannot, and will not, arbitrarily exercise towards man, however favoured man may be, an unjust and unholy partiality. So we read in this passage that “Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness.” It was only by redemption that alike the claims of law and the force of lawlessness, as against the sinner, could be met; and the only redemption price that the great Judge of all could either propose or accept is that which is indicated in our text--“Christ gave Himself for us.” Now it is evident that if the redemption of humanity is to be effected by the sufferings of Christ as the voluntary victim of the broken law, His sufferings should bear some close resemblance to those which sin has incurred; otherwise the great lesson suggested by His sufferings must be lost, and one supreme object of them be defeated. The passion of man for self leads man to submit to the tyranny of sin, even though he hates and despises it while he yields to it. The passion of Christ for human souls led Him to submit to be made sin for us, though He knew no sin, and intensely loathed it, even while He represented it. But the similarity extends even further. We have seen that it is part of the Nemesis of lawlessness that the lawless sinner comes under the power of him who is emphatically the lawless one, and that, having renounced all allegiance to Divine law, he should experience the results of the negation of law amidst the representatives of lawlessness beneath. Even so our blessed Lord was content to be given over, not only into the hands of wicked men, but in some mysterious sense to the cruel animosity of the lawless spirits of evil. “This,” He exclaims, “is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Perhaps, without intruding into mysteries that are too profound for our limited knowledge, we may even go a step further, and suggest that as it is doubtless part of the just retribution on lawlessness that the lawless should be left to himself, and cut off from all connection with Him who is the eternal source of law, even so Christ, representing our lawlessness, was cut off from all conscious connection with His Divine Father in those terrible moments spent upon the Cross, when the confession of inward and agonising desolation was wrung from His breaking heart. I picture to myself the dying Son of Man as in some sense outlawed, denied all recognition and protection from above, and victimised by violence and cruelty below. In this voluntary submission of the Son of God to penalties such as are due to the lawlessness of man, we have presented to our minds the most solemn and striking tribute that ever was paid to the majesty of Law. And now that the ransom has been paid, it is our blessed privilege to claim the full benefits of this redemption from all lawlessness, and to return in our own actual experience to the happy liberty of the law. From henceforth ours is to be a life of law, but not such a life of law as we vainly tried to lead before we accepted His redemption. Christ has not redeemed us from one form of bondage only to place us under another. He has redeemed us from lawlessness not to place us under law, but to place us in law, and law in us. Thus St. Paul speaks of himself as being, not without law, or lawless towards God, but lawbound to Christ. It suggests the thought that devotion to Christ had become a law of life to St. Paul, in the fulfilment of which he found his “perfect law of liberty.” We are redeemed from lawlessness that we may enjoy the liberty and not feel the constraint of law, and this end is attained when law coincides with inclination, which it will when its seat is within the heart. Law is liberty when we live from law, not by law. The Christian carries the law of his being within him, just in the same way as the objects of the natural world carry the law of their own motion or development in themselves. He has but to be true to his new nature, to recognise its instincts, to yield to its impulses, to respond to its claims, to gratify its desires, and he will find himself fulfilling the law without any thought of fulfilling it, indeed without a thought of its being law. Christ has redeemed us from lawlessness that He may Himself become our life law, because He is our new nature. Two things surely are manifest in New Testament Scripture; first, that in redemption all has been done for us that is necessary to render it possible for us to “attain the prize of our high calling”; second, that we shall only attain the prize of our calling as we by faith appropriate to ourselves what has thus been made ours. It is most instructive, with these two thoughts in our minds, to notice how throughout the New Testament the work is represented as done, and yet to be done; the blessing as bestowed, and yet to be appropriated. A few instances out of many must suffice; but they might be multiplied almost indefinitely. We are spoken of as already saved, and as being saved, and yet are directed to work out our own salvation (Acts 2:47; Philippians 2:12). We are dead with Christ, and our old man is crucified with Him, and yet we are to mortify our members that are on the earth (Romans 6:6; Romans 6:8; Colossians 3:5). We have put off the old man, and yet we are taught to put him off (Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:22). Do you believe really that Christ has redeemed you from all lawlessness, whether in little things or in great? and do you claim the practical effect of the deliverance in the same way in which you once claimed the practical effect of His expiation for your justification? How many of us can believe readily enough that His redeeming grace may raise us above flagrant forms of iniquity, and yet doubt His ability to save us from the more common, and therefore less startling, forms of infirmity and sin. From all He has already redeemed us. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness; and He gives Himself to us, that He may become Himself our law. Yes, let us believe it, from all lawlessness. That embraces the little things as well as the great things. It embraces the little tempers, which are so lawless, the rattle of the tongue, which is a very lawless member. Be no lodger satisfied with hoping and longing, and desiring, and wishing for better things; but bring your strong faith to bear upon God’s fact. Christ died to ransom you from all lawlessness, and He has not died in vain. Believe that you are redeemed, and claim it of the Redeemer that He shall apply His own redemption. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

Redemption and its obligations

Christ’s work of redemption.

1. This redemption is presented to us in the Word of God in a threefold aspect. In one place--“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” In our text--“Christ hath redeemed us from all iniquity”--that is, from the power of indwelling sin. And in other passages the day of Christ’s second advent is spoken of as the day of redemption, because it is at His return that the glorification of His redeemed people will be consummated by the “redemption of our bodies.” The price at which this redemption was effected is declared by St. Peter not to have been a corruptible price, as silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Thus, then, you will perceive that the basis of Christ’s redemption is this--His self-surrender is a sacrifice for the sins of man, His death in its design was an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world.

2. The fountain has its source from the throne of Deity, and the rise of the stream of mercy is lost amid the depth of the eternal counsels. The work of Christ was not the cause but the fruit of the Father’s love. Christ Himself, the provision of Christ, the surrender of Christ, is the manifestation of the love of God.

The design of redemption, and the consequent obligation of the redeemed. The redemption which is in Christ Jesus involves this great and mighty principle--that if I have been bought by the precious blood of Christ I am not my own; that hence forth the love of Christ is to constrain me, that henceforth I am not to live to myself, but to Him that died for me and rose again, and that I am to glorify God in my body and in my spirit, which are God’s. (J. C. Miller, M. A.)

A perfect redemption

1. If Christ hath freed and redeemed us from all iniquity, then hath He made no partial redemption; He satisfieth not for the fault, and leaveth us to satisfy for the punishment; neither redeemeth us from the eternal punishment, but giveth us leave to satisfy for the temporal. But if Christ have redeemed us from all iniquity, if He said on the Cross, It is finished, that is, the whole work of man’s redemption is consummate and perfect; if at one time He made one perfect expiation, and thereby brought in an everlasting redemption, here is artillery and gunshot against all popery; down go all other satisfactions for sin in this life, down go all satisfactions after this life in purgatory, down goeth their doctrine of all other merits save this of Christ.

2. This consideration must stir us up to a love of our Lord Jesus, who hath discharged us of such a debt, and ransomed us from such an unutterable thraldom.

3. It must work in us a detestation and watchfulness against all sin, which bringeth such vassalage upon us; for shall Christ take upon Him our debts, that we, like desperate prodigals, should do nothing but augment them? Shall He ransom us, and give us perfect freedom that we, with the unthankful Israelites, should run back again to our former bondage? Shall we, with Solomon’s fools, make but a mock of sin, which cost Christ so dear to expiate?

4. Hence also is ministered no small consolation to the faithful; for if Christ have redeemed us from all iniquity, who can lay anything to our charge? Seeing that Christ hath justified, who can condemn? (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A threefold description of Christians

“Redeemed from all iniquity.” We have been brought out of the dominion and thraldom of sin with the heart’s blood of the Son of God. What have we, then, to do any more with the works of darkness? What has the emancipated slave to do any longer with his old bondage and his old toil? He is a free man now. The owner’s lash is no longer for his shoulders to bear. He and slavery have parted company forever, and he never experiences a single moment’s desire to return to it.

“A peculiar people.” We are God’s own purchased possession; we are His sole property, and belong to Him alone. The remembrance of this truth cannot fail to produce in us a life that will appear eccentric to the world, but there is no warrant in it for practising eccentricities.

“Zealous of good works.” Not merely practising good works, but boiling in their desire to do them. (G. A. Sowter, M. A.)

Christ the promoter of the right

The supreme mission of Christ to this earth was not so much to give correct creeds as correct conduct. Iniquity is the want of equity, the negation of rectitude.

He reveals the standard of rectitude. The will of God.

He supplies the motive to rectitude. Supreme love to God.

He presents the model of rectitude. He Himself is a perfect example of what all men should be. (Homilist.)

The consecrating Saviour and the consecrated people

The consecrating saviour.

1. He gave Himself (John 10:18).

2. He gave Himself a ransom.

3. The object of this was to purify men; to save from sin.

Note the distinction between being saved from the penalties of sin, and from sin itself.

The consecrated people.

1. Freed from the power of sin.

2. Brought under the Divine rule. “From all iniquity;” literally, “from all lawlessness.”

3. Specially devoted to good; “peculiar,”

4. Ardent; “zealous.”

5. Diligent, devoted to “good works.” (F. Wagstaff.)

Purify unto Himself a peculiar people

Cleansing through Christ’s death

1. In that the death of Christ serveth for our continual cleansing while we live in this world; we are to take notice and acknowledgment of much filthiness and uncleanness even in the best, it is no slight soil or stain that hath fouled our natures, which will easily be blown or brushed off, for it sticketh nearer us than our skins, that the very power of Christ’s death itself doth not wholly destroy it while we live; but we have cause to cry out with the leper in the law, I am unclean, I am unclean: nay, the godly see what blackamoors they are, and how hardly they change their skins and what leopards they are, hardly parting with their spots. And this made the apostle take such pains that he might attain this fruit of Christ’s death and resurrection after he had been long able to maintain his justification against all challenges, and say who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect, and what shall separate us from the love of God? Well knew he how fast this uncleanness cleaveth unto our natures (Hebrews 12:1).

2. Hence may be noted that wheresoever sin is pardoned it is also purged (Romans 8:2). That is not only from the curse of the law, but even that law and the power of sin itself which would still hold us in the service of it. He shall die in his sin that dieth not unto his sin, not that sin can be so dead as not remain; but if it lie not bleeding by virtue of that stroke which Christ in His death hath given it if the force of it be not abated, and thou escaped from the rule of it Christ’s blood doth thee no good.

3. Let both these considerations move us to be ever washing and cleansing ourselves from our uncleanness, and never to be at rest till we find ourselves, although not free from blackness, yet comely, as the Church confesseth of herself. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Why believers are called a peculiar people

1. Because they are the most precious of men, even the most noble persons of the earth, descended of the blood of Christ.

2. In regard of God they are a peculiar people, distinct from others by His grace of election by which they are chosen out of the world and set high in His favour above all others. For they lie before Him in the righteousness of Christ in whom the Father is well pleased; they are bought from the earth and stand before Him in the work of His own fingers, namely, their new birth and second creation in which He also delighteth to behold. Hence are they called a holy nation, the spouse of Christ, the daughter of God, the choice of God, and God’s delight.

3. They are a peculiar people in regard of their whole manner and condition of life, which made Balaam say of Israel that it was a people dwelling alone and numbered not himself among other nations, that is, altogether different in laws, customs, manner, and condition of life. But let us see this truth in some instances.

(1) Their original are not some few families coming out of some corner of the earth; but they sprung of Christ, of whom all the families in heaven and earth are called.

(2) Their country is no part of earth, for they are here but strangers and pilgrims, but heaven, to which they tend and from whence they look for a Saviour.

(3) Their King is neither born nor created, but the everlasting King of glory who ruleth not some one country but from sea to sea, yea, to the world’s end, and not for an age, but as He is a King forever and His kingdom an everlasting kingdom, so He ruleth forever and ever, and of His kingdom there is no end.

(4) Their laws are spiritual, to govern the conscience as well as the outward man, most perfect, never changed, never abrogated as men’s be.

(5) Their war and weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, as their chiefest enemies; their Captain was never foiled nor can be, and therefore before they strike a blow they are sure of victory, and for their external enemies they conquer them, not by smiting (as others), but by suffering.

(6) Their language is the language of Canaan, their speech bewrayeth them to be citizens of heaven, hence are they called people of a pure language, no filthy, unsavoury, or corrupt communication cometh out of their mouths, but such as is holy, tending to edification, and ministering grace to the hearers.

(7) Their apparel is devised and put on by God Himself, even garments of innocency, long white robes died red in the blood of the Lamb.

(8) Their diet not rising out of the earth, but descending from heaven; Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life, and that manna that came down from heaven, and that water which gusheth out of the rock, of whom whosoever feedeth and drinketh he hath tasted of the tree of life and of the water of life, he cannot but live everlastingly. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

Peculiar but not eccentric

The phrase employed in our version, “peculiar people,” has no doubt tended to suggest and foster exceedingly erroneous ideas of what God expects His people to be. It certainly does not mean a people who affect all kinds of peculiarities. Not only is this phrase associated with some of the most extraordinary exhibitions of fanaticism that have been witnessed in modern times, but I apprehend that there are not a few earnest and even devoted Christians whose minds have been more or less warped and their lives distorted by a misapprehension of the true significance of the phrase here used. There are some good people whose religion, to the casual observer at any rate, seems mainly to consist in making themselves very extraordinary, and they are disposed to claim that others should copy their peculiarities if they desire to follow the Lord fully. Such persons need to be reminded that God does not seek for an eccentric people, but for a people whose essential singularity lies in the fact that they are His. Be true to your calling as espoused to Christ, and this will save you from having to attempt the solution of many otherwise perplexing questions. You will not then have to ask, as too many Christians do, “How far may I go in the direction of worldly conformity without actually forfeiting my religion?” Can you conceive a loyal and devoted bride making any such inquiry, “How far may I go in the way of associating with those who are the enemies and detractors of my affianced husband, who have done all that they could to wrong him, and rob him, and injure him? How far shall I be justified in choosing such persons for my friends and companions, and in sharing in their pursuits and pleasures where his name is never mentioned except in scorn? What length may I go in this direction without altogether forfeiting his affections, and bringing my relations with him to an abrupt termination?” Pity the bridegroom who has such a bride in prospect! But such a bride the Lord’s will never be. We need not court peculiarity; without going out of our way to make ourselves ridiculous or absurd, those of us who live right out for Christ will make themselves peculiar enough in a world that does not live for Christ at all. The man who counts all things dung and dross that he may win Christ, will be a very peculiar person in a world that counts Christ dung and dross so that it may win its own pleasures and gratifications. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

Zealous of good works

The practical result of the teaching of grace

“Zealous of good works.” Such is the practical fruit of the training of Grace; such its effect upon the outward lives of those who learn in her school. Herein Grace as a teacher returns a triumphant answer to her traducers, who would fain represent her as robbing man of his energies and paralysing his activities by withdrawing the legal motives for action. Who are at this moment foremost in every good work of charity and benevolence throughout our land, but the very persons to whom the doctrines of Grace are dear as their own lives, and who have learnt most assiduously at her school? Nor is it difficult to see how, even on psychical grounds, apart from any reference to the introduction of supernatural power, such results should follow from the acceptance of the gospel revelation. For, first, he who receives the salvation that Grace brings finds himself a new creature, dead to his old life, and cut off from all connection with its baleful associations. He is therefore in a position to make a really new start in life without being paralysed in the future by the fatal influence of the past. Next, he is under the influence of feelings of the liveliest gratitude to Him to whom he owes his present happiness and his hopes for the future; to Him he feels under the deepest obligation; and his appreciation of the heroism that has purchased his redemption awakens within him a genuine and ardent enthusiasm for the person of his Benefactor; his feeling is that it is impossible to do too much for One who has done so much for him. Once again, he is at ease in his mind as to his own personal salvation, and therefore has a mind sufficiently “at leisure from itself” to feel for the miseries of those around him. And further, he has vividly before his mind the contrast between his own byegone misery and his present happiness; and the contrast speaks to all of humanity that there is in his nature, urging him to lay himself out for the salvation of those whose condition is as wretched as his own once was, and may become as blessed as his is now. Undoubtedly the enthusiastic benevolence of the true believer may thus to a great extent be accounted for by the character of the belief he entertains; but whence came that creed that reaches and moves so wondrously the subtle mechanism of our nature? Would any profound philosopher, whether ancient or modern, have thought of framing a scheme that seems at first sight so little likely to produce the desired results? But when we have spoken of these natural effects of the acceptance of Christian truth, we have by no means exhausted our list of the real forces which generate this lofty enthusiasm. The believer feels the mighty energies of a new life throbbing within his soul. He is now in a position to draw from the Divine Storehouse all that he needs to equip him for his life’s work. So it is that, in spite of the cavil of unbelief and the a priori conclusions of unfriendly criticism, Grace proves herself the most practical of all teachers; and the greatest benefactors of mankind are to be found amongst her most faithful scholars. She does not allow those who learn of her to think only of their own spiritual advantage, or to be indifferent to everything except their own personal growth in holiness. Our life’s work is twofold; it lies without us and within us; and we cannot neglect either branch of our work without injuring both. We cannot hope to grow in grace while we are leading lives of selfish indolence and uselessness; nor can we expect to be really and extensively useful unless we are fully consecrated to the Lord. Grace trains us then to be enthusiasts or, to use St. Paul’s word in this passage, to be zealots, and this is evidently quite in accordance with her genius and customary mode of procedure. Such enthusiasm, if we surrender ourselves to it, will almost always lead to self-denial and even self-sacrifice; but these will rather increase than damp its ardour. There are some expansive forces in the natural world that seem to acquire their intensity by opposition; steam, for example, is only a power when it is compressed. Even so the mighty moral force which eighteen centuries ago shook the heathen world becomes all the mightier when obstacles have to be faced, opposition encountered, sacrifices endured. Some this holy enthusiasm will lead to turn their backs on home and country and expose themselves to the hardships and risks of a missionary life. Others the same enthusiasm will lead to find their work at home amidst our perishing thousands. Nor do we need less but rather more enthusiasm if the same inward call summon us to find our field of toil amidst scenes of fashion and luxury, rather than amidst the hovels of the poor. Self-denial preach Christ crucified in a drawing room than in a cellar; where sin is glossed over with a varnish of respectability and refinement, than where it flaunts its naked hideousness before the eyes of all beholders. But for this most difficult of all tasks, which only Christian religion would think of as a possible task at all, and only Christians would dream of undertaking, Grace can supply her disciples with a sufficient motive power in the enthusiasm which she inspires. But while Grace provides us with a sufficient motive power in the form of a holy enthusiasm, she is also careful to train us to spend that zeal in the production of really good works. There seems to be a prevalent notion in our day that so long as a man is in earnest it matters little what form his earnestness takes; but Grace teaches us to be particular about the quality as well as the quantity of our work. Our object is not to do much work, but to do good work--so good that it will not need to be done over again. We fear that this is hardly the character of much of the work that is being done in our own busy day. “I am painting for eternity,” exclaimed the illustrious Italian, when asked why he spent such pains over his canvas. How many Christian labourers work with a similar feeling? Are we working for eternity, or only for the passing hour? A work, to be a good work, should certainly be, according to the apostle’s phrase, “for necessary uses.” We are to work for some definite good purpose, and not merely for the sake of keeping ourselves employed. It is needful, therefore, as far as possible, to avoid unnecessary labour, to use the best, and not necessarily the most laborious, means towards the attainment of the end in view, in order that we may have the more time and strength for that which needs to be done. Again, a work to be good needs to be done thoroughly, not in a superficial perfunctory manner. This will naturally be the besetting sin of all mere legal service. Once again, a work to be good needs to be done in the power of the Holy Ghost. “Apart from Me,” our blessed Lord has taught us “ye can do nothing.” Once again, a work to be really good needs to be done in the spirit of faith, with the full assurance that the Lord who sends us will use us and work out His own blessed purposes through us. He who does not expect God to use him need express no surprise at not being used; but rather the marvel would be if he were used at all. Yet once again, if our work is to be as good as it should be, it must needs be “a labour of love.” This point is amply illustrated by the career of Him whom grace sets before us as our Exemplar. His career was one long exhibition of that hidden love of God which the world was so slow to believe in. If our work is to be really good it must be characterised by the patience of hope. Much work that once promised fairly is marred and spoilt for lack of perseverance. Christians are not steadfast, immovable, and therefore always abounding in the work of the Lord. Good work is not to be produced by a series of extraordinary and spasmodic efforts. We need that patient continuance in well-doing which shows that we seek honour, glory, and immortality. But here again the teaching of Grace comes to our aid. Not only does she set before us an example in One who was no stranger to apparent failure in His own ministry, but she also reminds us of His great forbearance towards us. Such are some of the characteristics of good work in which we are to be zealots, and in which we are to find our outward occupation while God leaves us here. Our day cannot at most be very long; its twelve hours, how rapidly they slip away! and the night cometh when no man can work. Yes, the worker’s life is after all the only happy life, even though it may entail toil, hardship, and privation. The true labourer has Christ Himself for his companion in toil, and the smile of His approval for his dearest reward. (W. H. M. H. Aitken.)

God’s family, a school of good works

A Christian, by God’s ordinance, is no longer allowed to consider himself as standing alone in the world, but as one among many in a holy family. And this puts all his duties in a peculiar point of view, not always regarded as it ought to be, even by serious and well-meaning men. This piece of instruction is conveyed in the text by the words “peculiar people.” The title was at first applied to the holy seed, the Children of Israel, when God had redeemed them to Himself by bringing them out of the land of Egypt. The natural condition of all mankind is no better, you see, than a slavery, out of which we needed to be bought and redeemed, before we could be capable of the mighty blessings which God in His mercy had prepared for us: just as the Jews needed deliverance from Egypt, before they could be brought into Canaan. This slavery the whole world, both Jew and Gentile, were continually making worse, by the bad habits in which they indulged, and the power which they allowed evil spirits to gain over them. Christ died to redeem the sinner from those chains of evil custom, which have wound themselves so round him by length of time, that he feels as if shaking them off would be losing a part of himself. Christ died to redeem the drunkard from his drunkenness, the impure from his debauchery, the unkind from his malice, the godless and careless man from his love of this present world. Observe now to what purpose the Son thus made us free. Not to leave us in such a condition as many seem to delight in imagining, the moment they hear of freedom and liberty--not to turn us out into the world, loose and independent of all restraint--but to make us more dependent on Him, more closely confined within His laws, for every day and hour that we live as Christians. In a word, the peculiar, chosen people, whom Christ vouchsafed to redeem to Himself, were meant, above all things in the world, to be always “zealous of good works”; not only rather good than evil, such as might pass well enough in the world, but “zealous,” eager, earnest in good; every man striving and trying to be every day better than he was yesterday. And in order that each particular Christian might answer the better this intention of our gracious Redeemer, He has not left us to stand, as it were, separate and apart from one another, but has appointed that all who believe in Him should make up one people, one household, one body; should feel a deep interest one in another, as if their welfare were bound up together: so that “whether one member suffer, all the members should suffer with it; or whether one member be honoured, all the members should rejoice with it.” The whole plan of the Christian Church is, in short, as entirely opposite to the natural pride and self-sufficiency of man as anything can well be imagined. It will not let you for a moment dream that you can stand alone and be independent. If any be tempted to the irreligious fancy of saying, “they never made the promise; others made it in their name, and they cannot be bound by it”; certainly it is in their power, if they will, to disavow and break their word given to God: but let them remember that at the same time they cast away all the privileges of their Christian calling. By the very act of coming to the Holy Communion, you renounce, before God and man, that proud unchristian notion of standing alone, being independent. You yourself profess to stand in continual need of all the means and instruments of grace; the prayers, the intercession, the good example, of your brethren; all the helps which the Son of God has so graciously provided in His Church and household. And surely, as to zeal in good works, every one who thinks at all on the subject knows that one chief purpose of the Holy Communion was to encourage and strengthen men in that. (Plain Sermons by Contributors to Tracts for the Times.”)

The zeal of God’s people for good works

They are zealous because

1. The spirit of the work is in them. A disposition, a bias, a zeal, consonant with the nature of the work, whose relation to God makes it a good work, is implanted in them, and they have naturally a pleasure in its performance.

2. Christ’s command is that they should so act that they should bring forth fruit unto His glory. His commands are precious to them because they love Him.

3. In the performance of good works the Christian finds his daily support. The way of good works is the way of salvation, and there abound its consolations.

4. In the way of good works the people of God obtain fellowship with God. Here are the shinings of His face. It is here that darkness turns into light before them. It is here the Lord speaks to His people, and where He strengthens their hearts against folly. It is in the ways of holy exercise that “the God of peace” is with them. These are the “galleries” in which the King is held. Truly here “our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (D. Charles.)

Zeal in works and worship

1. Zeal is an intense earnestness for the accomplishment of an object--not a great excitement of feeling, not mere demonstrative warmth of expression, but something far more deep and enduring. It is a working, practical energy; it is a power which may be directed to things indifferent, things good, or things bad; and accordingly the word is sometimes used in the New Testament in a good sense, and sometimes in a bad one. Thus in a good sense, “Your zeal hath provoked very many”; “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.” And in a bad sense where the apostle enumerates among the works of the flesh “envyings and emulations.” What zeal is we know by experience. For instance, what zeal is shown by men of science when they explore the remotest bounds of the earth, from torrid zones to the everlasting snows of the far North, or when they leave their bones to whiten in Australian wildernesses, to settle a question of geography. What zeal is shown by them in a nobler cause when they sacrifice their own lives--in some cases consciously--in the study of disease and the result of the battle with death. So in things bad, what zeal is shown by infidels in the propagation of their opinions on all occasions and in every place. What in the sacrifices of violent revolutionists, etc. When I turn from such illustrations I blush for the apathetic condition of our Church.

2. Now, such a zeal can only spring out of a great motive, just as the rush of the limpid stream at the mountain side shows the abundance of the water that feeds it. Zeal is force; it is the great working force of our world; and force can only arise from an adequate motive, just as the great river is not fed by the scanty summer shower, but gathers its strength from rains that fall upon a thousand hills. Now, the motives furnished in this passage are common to all Christian men, just as the grace they must produce must be common to Christian men likewise. The ultimate spring is love--love, purest, holiest, sweetest, most abiding of all motives--the very essence of true religion, the Alpha and the Omega of its strength, the one thing which of all earthly things approaches most to Omnipotence, because it is the reflection of God and His peculiar prerogative. It is love for Christ awakened by His love for us--the deep echo of a converted human soul to the suffering cries and agonising tears of a dying Saviour; love quickened by the grateful experience of the peace which fills the heart when leaning its weary guilt upon the Sin Bearer, and which feels itself redeemed from all iniquity; love deepened by profound obligation as it remembers that the very purpose of that love was to purify us unto Himself; love strengthened by adoring admiration, which has called us to be His peculiar people and filled our breasts with a world of wealth, of which the unconverted man has no knowledge.

3. There is one thing more by which a habitual zeal must necessarily be characterised. If it be the common grace of all Christians; if it springs from motives which are abiding as the life of a redeemed soul; if it is taught by the power of the Almighty Spirit of God then it must be a steady, permanent force--not transient, not occasional, not flickering up into a vehement flame now and then and dying away again, but like the sun in the midst of the heavens, or like the laws of nature which hold sun and moon and stars revolving ever in their courses round their central orb. (E. Garbett, M. A.)

Good works

What are good works?

1. No work can be good unless it is commanded of God.

2. Nothing is a good work unless it is done with a good motive; and there is no motive which can be said to be good but the glory of God.

3. Furthermore, when we have faith in God and perform all our works with the best of motives, even then we have not so much as a solitary good work until the blood of Christ is sprinkled thereon.

Where do good works come from?

1. From a real conversion brought about by the Spirit of God.

2. From union with Christ.

What is the use of good works?

1. They are useful as evidences of grace. The Antinomian says--But I do not require evidences; I can live without them. This is unreasonable. Do you see yonder clock? That is the evidence of the time of day. The hour would be precisely the same if we had not that evidence. Still we find the clock of great use. So we say good works are the best evidence of spiritual life in the soul. Is it not written, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren”? Loving the brethren is a good work. Again, “If any man abide in Me, he shall bring forth fruit.” Fruits of righteousness are good works, and they are evidences that we abide in Christ. If I am living in sin day by day what right have I to conclude I am a child of God?

2. They are the witnesses or testimony to other people of the truth of what we believe. A sermon is not what a man says, but what he does. You who practise are preaching; it is not preaching and practising, but practising is preaching. The sermon that is preached by the mouth is soon forgotten, but what we preach by our lives is never forgotten.

3. They are of use to a Christian as an ornament. The adornment of good works, the adornment in which we hope to enter heaven, is the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; but the adornment of a Christian here below is his holiness, his piety, his consistency. If some people had a little more piety, they would not require such a showy dress; if they had a little more godliness, to set them off, they would have no need whatever to be always decorating themselves. The best earrings that a woman can wear are the earrings of hearing the Word with attention. The very best ring that we can have upon our finger is the ring which the father puts upon the finger of the prodigal son when he is brought back; and the very best dress we can ever wear is a garment wrought by the Holy Spirit--the garment of a consistent conduct. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

An acquaintance with Christ the foundation of experimental and practical religion

It lays the foundation of Christianity in a proper acquaintance with and faith in the kindness and bounty of our great redeemer.

The experimental religion to be built on this foundation.

This doctrine inculcates the importance of Christian practice. (J. Benson)

Zeal in good works

Note that before the apostle speaks of good works we hear of redemption, and purging, and washing, and of a peculiar people that must do them, for, indeed, the best works are so far from justifying and purging that none can be good before the party be justified and purged.

Note that whosoever are justified and sanctified they must needs bring forth good works, for else Christ should be frustrate of His end in those for whom He gave Himself (Ephesians 2:10).

Note that the thing that God requireth in a professor is zeal, forwardness, and earnestness in well-doing, and that his whole course should be a studious prosecuting of good works. The effects of zeal for good are,

1. It preserveth in the heart a fitness and preparedness to every good work required of every believer (2 Timothy 3:17).

2. It exciteth to diligence and haste in the things we do; it abandoneth idleness, slothfulness, and delays, by which occasions of well-doing are often cut off: the zeal of David made him prepare diligently for the temple; zeal in the magistrate causeth in him diligence throughout his government; zeal in the minister maketh him like Apollo, of whom we read that being fervent in spirit he taught diligently the way of God; zeal and fervency in private men causeth them to shake off slothfulness in their duties, and removeth in all conditions the curse which is denounced against the man that doeth the work of the Lord negligently: most fitly, therefore, doth the apostle combine those precepts: “Not slothful to do service, fervent in the spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

3. Zeal causeth continuance in well-doing, which is also required in every good action as well as in prayer; it contenteth not itself with one or two good actions, but is plentiful in them, and bringeth the party professing it to be rich in good works and to shine lightsomely therein; yea, it maketh a man hold out, and keep a constant tenor in good courses, and that as well in adversity as prosperity, so as he is neither choked by preferments, as very many, nor discouraged by distresses, as not a few. 4.

Zeal setteth such a high price unto the glory of God and performance of conscionable duties, that it causeth the party to attempt and go through, though with never so much difficulty, whatsoever he seemeth himself bound unto; it hardeneth the face like brass against dangers and losses, the loss of the world in his judgment gain, yea, all things are loss and dung so as he may win Christ; this alone yieldeth joy in the spoiling of goods, by this can a man hate father and mother in comparison of his obedience, and be contented to be hated of all men for well-doing, in which case the loss of friends is but light. This zeal for God maketh a man’s liberty small in his eye; nay, in standing out in a good cause his life will not be so dear unto him as the finishing of his course with joy; yea, he can rejoice to be offered up upon the sacrifice and service of the Church’s faith, as Paul. And which is yet much more, the zeal of God’s glory will so burn in the heart as it can carry a man so far beyond himself as that he shall neglect his own salvation and wish to be accursed, yea, and blotted out of the book of life, if God may be more honoured by the one than by the other. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

The necessity of positive duty or actual goodness

Positive duty, or the actual exercise or goodness, is indispensably required at our hands.

1. This will appear in a general way, if we do but turn a thought to the state and order of created beings and the designs of their Creator. For though no virtue or vice can be ascribed to those beings which have no understanding, yet remiss and negligent man may form a just and useful reproof to himself upon this observation, that whilst he, who is the glory of visible creatures, fails of exercising his powers and abilities, and of answering the ends of his creations, all the other parts, even of the natural world, do exert themselves to their utmost capacity in promoting and fulfilling the great ends and purposes of nature.

2. This will further appear from that more particular consideration of this point, which is now to be added to the general one already offered. Where I shall represent an obligation to good works, or, to the actual exercise of goodness, as such good works may be considered

(1) In respect of God, as we are created and redeemed by Him, and subject to Him, and, therefore, obliged to contribute our utmost to His honour. (See 1 Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 5:16; John 15:8.)

(2) In respect of our neighbour. It is not our keeping to the letter of the Sixth Commandment that fills up the measure of duty to our neighbour in regard to his life; for, as we must not destroy it, we stand further obliged to protect it and to crown it with comforts, by proper acts of our own, to the utmost of our power.

(3) Necessary to prove our fidelity in the service of God.

(4) An engaging recommendation and endearment of religion to others.

(5) Necessary to that perfection which the gospel requires.

Zeal is the necessary qualification of positive duty, or acts of goodness. When good works are done with a negligence and unconcern, as if it were perfectly indifferent to the man, whether they be undertaken or let alone, whether they succeed or miscarry, they then sit upon him with a very ill grace, and he may easily expect that what is performed with so much coldness will meet with a cold reception. It is the life and spirit, the sprightliness and fervour of religious enterprises, that must recommend them to God, the discerner of spirits. (W. Lupton, D. D.)

Verse 15

Titus 2:15

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke

The duties of the episcopal function

In all this Epistle it is evident that St.

Paul looks upon Titus as advanced to the dignity of a prime ruler of the Church, and intrusted with a large diocese.

The duties of his place. In a word, it is every bishop’s duty to teach and to govern; and his way to do it is, “not to be despised.”

1. The first branch of the great work incumbent upon a church ruler is to teach. It is a work of charity, and charity is the work of heaven, which is always laying itself out upon the needy and the impotent: nay, and it is a work of the highest and the noblest charity; for he that teacheth another gives an alms to his soul: he clothes the nakedness of his understanding, and relieves the wants of his impoverished reason. Now this teaching may be effected two ways:

(1) Immediately by himself. Change of condition changes not the abilities of nature, but makes them more illustrious in their exercise; and the episcopal dignity, added to a good preaching faculty, is like the erecting of a stately fountain upon a spring, which still, for all that, remains as much a spring as it was before, and flows as plentifully, only it flows with the circumstance of greater state and magnificence. But then, on the other hand, let me add also, that this is not so absolutely necessary as to be of the vital constitution of this function. He may teach his diocese, who ceases to be able to preach to it; for he may do it by appointing teachers, and by a vigilant exacting from them the care and the instruction of their respective flocks. He is the spiritual father of his diocese; and a father may see his children taught, though he himself does not turn schoolmaster.

(2) Mediately, by the subordinate ministration of others; in which, since the action of the instrumental agent is, upon all grounds of reason, to be ascribed to the principal, he who ordains and furnishes all his churches with able preachers is a universal teacher; he instructs where he cannot be present; he speaks in every mouth of his diocese, and every congregation of it every Sunday feels his influence, though it hears not his voice. That master deprives not his family of their food who orders a faithful steward to dispense it.

2. The second branch of his work is to rule. “Rebuke with all authority.”

(1) It implies exaction of duty from the persons placed under it: for it is both to be confessed and lamented that men are not so ready to offer it where it is not exacted.

(2) Government imports a protection and encouragement of the persons under it, in the discharge of their duty.

(3) Coercion and animadversion upon such as neglect their duty; without which all government is but toothless and precarious, and does not so much command as beg obedience.

The means assigned for the discharge of the duties mentioned. “Let no man despise thee.”

1. We will discourse of contempt, and the malign hostile influence it has upon government. As for the thing itself, every man’s experience will inform him that there is no action in the behaviour of one man towards another, of which human nature is more impatient than of contempt, it being a thing made up of those two ingredients, an undervaluing of a man upon a belief of his utter uselessness and inability, and a spiteful endeavour to engage the rest of the world in the same belief and slight esteem of him. He that thinks a man to the ground will quickly endeavour to lay him there; for while he despises him, he arraigns and condemns him in his heart; and the after bitterness and cruelties of his practices are but the executioners of the sentence passed before upon him by his judgment. Contempt, like the planet Saturn, has first an ill aspect, and then a destroying influence. By all which, I suppose, it is sufficiently proved how noxious it must needs he to every governor; for, can a man respect the person whom he despises? And can there be obedience where there is not so much as respect?

2. Those just causes, that would render them, or indeed any other rulers, worthy to be despised:

(1) Ignorance. A blind man sitting in the chimney corner is pardonable enough, but sitting at the helm he is intolerable. If men will be ignorant and illiterate, let them be so in private, and to themselves, and not set their defects in a high place, to make them visible and conspicuous. If owls will not be hooted at, let them keep close within the tree, and not perch upon the upper boughs.

(2) Viciousness and ill morals. Virtue is that which must tip the preacher’s tongue and the ruler’s sceptre with authority: and therefore with what a controlling overpowering force did our Saviour tax the sins of the Jews, when He ushered in His rebukes of them with that high assertion of Himself, “Who is there amongst you that convinces Me of sin?”

(3) Fearfulness of, and mean compliances with, bold, popular offenders.

(4) A proneness to despise others. (R. South, D. D.)

Hints to ministers

The Christian teacher should always act with mildness, yet with firmness. There are gradations to be observed.

1. Instruction: “these things speak.”

2. Expostulation: “exhort.”

3. Reproof: Rebuke with authority. (F. Wagstaff.)

Teaching out of the Scriptures

These things, saith our apostle: for this purpose hath the Lord in great wisdom furnished the Scriptures to make the man of God able both to teach, instruct, and improve, so as he need go no further to seek for profitable things. Which teacheth such as will stand in God’s counsel, to fetch from hence all their doctrines, all their proofs, all their exhortations, and all their reproofs; for so shall they be just, so shall they be powerful to work a work of edification, and so shall they be unresistible in the consciences of men. These things if men would tie themselves unto, they should increase men with the increasings of God in spiritual wisdom, watchfulness, and the fear of God. Then should we not meet with so many pretors for sin and liberty to the flesh, straining their wits to legitimate bastardly broods of opinions, which the Scriptures never acknowledged here. Nor so many who in their reproofs glad the hearts of the impenitent, and make heavy the hearts of those to whom the Lord hath spoken peace; who strike at the best things and men; and so as soon as ever they have delivered a truth in these, lest they should leave it while it is true, misapply it in the hypothesis; girding at godliness as too much scrupulosity and preciseness; accounting conscience a hypocrite, and the fear of God dissembling before men. Hence are discovered as sinful all reproofs of sin by jesting, interluding, and stage representations, in which fools make a mock of sin, and open a public school of all lewdness and iniquity; and if any devil or sin be cast out there, it is by Belzebub, the prince of the devils. Further, all reproofs by satirising, and by slanderous libels, and secret calumniations (all which commonly wreck themselves rather upon the persons than sins of men) are here reproved; which, although they be indeed sharp and biting means, yet hath the Lord appointed fitter and sharper arrows to smite His enemies withal, even sound and sufficient convictions out of the Word, which is able to wound and daunt kings themselves; and prescribed them also to be publicly drawn, and shot in such grave, reverent, and seemly sort, as is befitting.

1. Both the person and calling of the reprover.

2. The things themselves, which are weighty and serious: as also

3. The presence of God and His congregation, whose matters are debated, and whose sentence against sin is in denouncing and executing.

Small wisdom, therefore, it is, for men in these cases of the salvation and damnation of men to suffer their wits to play upon sin so lightly and jestingly as becometh rather some vain spectacle, or professed jester; then either the errand of the Lord, or a messenger from the Lord of hosts. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A summary of the “things” Titus was to “speak”

1. The central idea of the passage appears to be a life of sobriety, righteousness, and godliness, issuing in and sustaining the practical advice previously offered to old men and maidens, to matrons, aged and young, to youths, and slaves of all degrees.

2. The subjective condition of this heavenly life on earth is explicitly stated--a denial of all godliness and worldly passions.

3. This “life” and its “conditions” are originated and promoted by a process of Divine discipline. Here are processes, mental and disciplinary, which augment and stimulate this life of godliness.

4. This entire subjective process rests upon two groups of sublime objective realities:

(1) The historic epiphany of the grace of God in the Incarnation;

(2) the anticipated and prophetic epiphany of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus it calls for the exercise of the twofold energy of “faith” and “hope.”

5. The “grace” and the “glory of God,” received and appropriated in Christian faith and hope, attain their highest expression in the redemptive self-sacrifice of the God-man.

6. By way of closing the circle of the thought, it is expressly stated that the end of the redemptive work is the creation of “a holy people,” who are not only His “peculiar treasure” and inheritance, but who have, as the law and charter of their incorporation, this grand distinction, that they are charged with the genius of goodness--the passion for godliness. They are the very “zealots of goodness,” passionately eager for all that will help and move them to realise the ideal of the Divine life. (H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

Care in presentment of Divine truth

Philopoeman, a Grecian general, was so enamoured of military tactics, that when he travelled he used to be pointing out to his friend the difficulties of steep or broken ground, and how the ranks of an army must be extended or closed, according to the difference made by rivers, ditches, and defiles. By such observations, and acting upon them in real warfare, he became one of the most skilful and successful generals in his time. Were Christian ministers to attend with as much care to the arrangement of Divine truth in their public instructions; were they to consider with as much attention what plans, all things considered, are most proper to be adopted in order to extend their usefulness, it might be expected their lives would be more useful than they often are.

Let no man despise thee

The causes of disrespect in the character of a clergyman

The esteem of mankind, especially that of the wise and good, who are competent judges of moral excellence, is certainly a valuable blessing. It confirms the testimony of conscience, gives a lively satisfaction to the mind, procures the respect and services of mankind, extends the sphere of our own utility, and increases the opportunities of doing good. If a respectable character, in the opinion of the best judges, was thought so necessary to an orator to conciliate the favour of his audience, and give weight to his speech, must it not, for the same reasons, be infinitely more requisite in a preacher of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ? Esteem is the natural ground of confidence and respect; and in proportion as we sink in the opinion of mankind, they will suspect our integrity, contemn our authority, and disregard our instructions. In pointing out the causes of disrespect in the character of a clergyman, I do not allude to those grosser vices which are an outrage against religion, and would expel men from the sacred office. I would point to those inconsistencies of conduct, or defeats of accomplishment, which fall not under the lash of discipline, but tarnish the reputation, and lessen the utility of a minister of the gospel.

1. In the character of a minister of the gospel, ignorance is both a derogatory and a hurtful quality.

2. Another, and a still juster, cause of contempt is negligence in discharging the duties of his office. Ignorance, although always a humiliating circumstance, may sometimes proceed from defect of understanding; and whenever it arises from that cause, however deserving it may be of pity, it is neither the ground of censure, nor the proper object of contempt. But wilful negligence, as it proceeds entirely from ourselves, and always implies a defect of principle, justly lays us open to reproach, and must bring us down in the estimation of mankind.

3. Another ground of disrespect is bigotry and imprudence. As by neglecting the duties of our office we may suffer piety to decline and immorality to increase, so by an ignorant and furious zeal we may sow the seeds of superstition and folly, or promote a spirit of rancour, to the great prejudice of holiness and virtue. From the same rash and precipitate temper, by reproving vice at an unseasonable time, or in an imprudent manner, we may exasperate rather than reclaim offenders; or, by an unnecessary severity of discipline, we may drive men on to obstinacy, and confirm them in impenitence and opposition.

4. Another cause of contempt in a minister is servility. From false modesty, or from interested policy, from a desire of vain glory or a fear of reproach, we may be tempted to descend beneath the dignity of our character, and to be drawn into servile compliances. From an undue attachment on the one hand, or from a secret resentment on the other, we may be led into unbecoming partialities of conduct, treating the same offence with lenity in some, and with severity in others. From a vain desire to ingratiate ourselves with the great, or a servile dread of incurring their displeasure, we may comply with their follies, assent to their opinions, enter into their licentious conversations, and even connive at their vices. Such abject servility must be universally detested. Even those to whom we hope to recommend ourselves by our unworthy complaisance, though they may behave with civility to us, will despise us in their hearts as unworthy of our sacred office, and a disgrace to our profession. For however men may practise vice themselves, or be pleased with it in others, yet they universally detest it in a teacher of religion on account of its gross inconsistency. (A. Donnan.)

Despising the preacher

1. Men will despise a preacher when his life and his doctrine do not agree.

2. When he delivers his message with half-heartedness, as one who does not really believe it himself.

3. When it is evident he has bestowed no pains or labour on preparation for his work.

4. When by his manner he makes it plain that he desires to give prominence to himself, and excite admiration.

5. When he is evidently influenced by other motives than God’s glory and man’s good. (F. Wagstaff)


1. Let no man despising thee prevent the full discharge of certain duty. “He that despiseth you, despiseth Me, and he that despiseth Me, despiseth Him that sent Me.”

2. If men will despise God and Christ, the human messenger may well consent to be despised along with them. Let them despise thee, but let not the effect be caused by cowardly suppression, or disingenuous corruption of the truth on your part. As a faithful messenger of God and an ambassador of Christ, let men despise you if they will, or if they must--let them despise you at their peril. But as a traitor to the truth and to its Author, let no man despise thee. (J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

Ministers to be preserved from contempt

1. First, how people and hearers should entertain the ministers sent them of God, seeing they cannot without great sin despise them; for seeing the Lord, who could by Himself work the salvation of men, yet is pleased to use as His helpers herein weak and base men, whom He assumeth into fellowship with Himself, to become coworkers with Him, although not in the act of conversion, yet in the ministry of it. Who dare despise such whom the Lord so far honoureth? And therefore Calleth them His white horses--horses, in that He useth them in His battles against sin, the world, and wicked ones; and white, for the purity of their doctrine and integrity of their lives. Yea, His angels, namely, such as by whom He revealeth His good pleasure unto us; and His own voice, by whom He beseecheth men to be reconciled.

2. Secondly, how careful is the Lord to preserve His ministers from contempt, when He affirmeth that such as despise them, despise Himself that sent them. In which sense we read that the posterity of Cain, contemning the preaching of Noah, despised and contended against God’s spirit; so Israel, murmuring against Moses and Aaron, Moses saith, “He hath heard your murmurings against the Lord, for what are we that ye have murmured against us?”

3. Thirdly, how unnatural a part were it for children to despise their fathers: and what severity hath the Lord showed against it in His law. But godly ministers are the fathers of their people. “I am your father,” saith Paul; and Onesimus, yea, and Titus here begotten by him unto the faith, he calleth his sons. Let no cursed Cham presume to scorn them, which is not so hurtful to them as dangerous to themselves, being the next way to bring themselves under the curse. On the contrary, let the natural children of the Church

1. “Know them” (1 Thessalonians 5:12), that is, both in heart acknowledge them the ministers of Christ, and in affection, love them as His ministers, accounting their feet beautiful.

2. Render then double honour (1 Timothy 5:17), in which precept the Holy Ghost hath made

(1) reverence,

(2) obedience,

(3) thankfulness,

(4) comfortable maintenance, their due from their people.

Ministers are hence taught so to order their lives and doctrine, as they lay not their persons open to reproach, nor prostitute their authorities unto contempt, and so lose it both from themselves and others. For this is the way for ministers to win authority and reverence in the hearts of men by their lives and doctrine, to become examples unto the flock. And thus shining in the purity of doctrine and conversation, they show themselves stars in the right hand of Christ. (T. Taylor, D. D.)

A sermon to ministers of the gospel

It is impossible for any man to keep himself from being hated. Hatred may exist without cause. There is another strange trait in human nature. Whenever injury has been done it is usually the injurer who hates. In general the ignorant hate the wise and the intelligent. This superior knowledge in others is like the sun’s light to bats and owls and moles, painfully blinding--and they hate at once the knowledge and the man who knows. In general the bad hate the good, because goodness is always a most impressive and powerful rebuke of badness, even when good men are silent. But a man can keep himself from being despised. The rule is that only the despicable are despised. The exception is when a man, not in himself despicable, is despised by some one who does not know him. In that case it is not the real individual who is despised, but some ideal person. It is a greater misfortune to be despised than to be hated. A man may hate you now who, when his own character is changed, may come to love you with a passion strong and ardent as his former hatred. But if one despise you, even when he comes to know you better he will find it difficult to discriminate between you and the idea he has had of you. “Let no man despise thee.” The plain meaning is--live in the ministry so that no man can despise you, however much he may hate and oppose your person and your ministry. A minister of the gospel makes himself despicable whenever he does anything which is proof that he himself does not believe the message he proclaims to others. No lie is noble.

In the first place it may appear in a minister’s assuming what does not of right belong to him. To hold a position for which one is evidently not capacitated by nature or grace or education, is to make one appear badly in the eyes of one’s fellows. A man who undertakes small things and does them well, appears much better than a larger and stronger man who undertakes what he is obviously not able to accomplish, and what he should have done was beyond his depth. A minister of the gospel ought to know just what it is his position demands of him, and assume nothing beyond. He is a servant of the souls of men, to wait on those souls, bringing all spiritual help from the gospel to those souls. He is no more.

Another cause of contempt for some ministers may be found in their claiming certain immunities which do not in right reason belong to thee so far as other men can see. Age, position, attainments, usefulness, are claims to respect, but the minister should share them with men of other professions. He should expect to be honoured simply in proportion to his abilities and his usefulness. A man who really is not respectable in his character cannot be rendered honourable by any office or position.

Again: a minister may render himself despicable by relying upon worldly means alone in order to secure spiritual ends. When men detect that in a minister, it seems at once to convince them that the man never had a true faith in the existence of a spiritual world, and in the existence and offices of that Holy Ghost of whom the Bible speaks and of whom he must sometimes preach. When a minister makes his Church a mere secular establishment, which shall gratify and even in some sense educate the people in architecture, ecclesiastical decoration, classic music, oratory, liberal views, and polite manners--when he shall work as if the aim were simply to crowd the house with a large select audience, who should generate the necessary animal and mental magnetism to make all things pleasant, and whose pew rents should produce a large financial exhibit--when he shall have even succeeded in all that, as a lyceum manager he is splendid, but as a minister of Jesus he is despicable. The obverse fault is the use of one’s position as a spiritual teacher to gain worldly ends, whether personal or partisan. A fair use of secular instrumentalities for the accumulation of money or fame perhaps no reasonable mind would censure. But when a man who professes to have devoted himself to the spiritual improvement of mankind clearly employs his place to enrich himself, he is despicable.

Again: a minister may make himself disreputable by neglecting to prepare himself for the proper discharge of the functions of his office. He has to deal with the most complex and profound questions of life and destiny; and he has to conduct these discussions not so as to merely entertain or even satisfy the intellects of his hearers. He is an utter failure if he do not make all those discussions profitable to their souls. A lawyer is a failure if he never carries a case, however much he may entertain the court and the jury. The world makes rapid progress in all science. No chemist expects a minister to be up in chemistry as he is; no political economist expects him to be “posted” on all the minutiae which go to solve the great problems of civil and social advancement. But they do expect him to know something beyond a few dry theological propositions and a few dry jokes. They do expect him to be a worker. They work.

Again: there is much to be learned from what Paul teaches Timothy in connection with the precept, “Let no man despise thy youth,” when he adds, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” What will save a minister from loss of respect in his youth will keep him in honour through all his ministry.

1. If other men spoil their reputation by loose tongues and careless and corrupt speech, how very careful of his speech must be a minister of the gospel, who is supposed to be always holding close to his own heart and conscience and to his fellow men the realities of a world which fleshly eyes do not behold. Nor do sensible men like canting parsons. Words are things. To him who uses them they may be empty things, and he is despicable who employs the divine gift of speech to scatter emptiness over the world.

2. Then the apostle holds that a minister’s intercourse with society may make him despicable. A grasping, stingy, mean minister is contemptible. And so is a minister who allows others to cheat him just because he is “a parson.” He ought to know his rights and dare maintain them. He who is not aiming to be a gentleman is not fit to be a minister.

3. The apostle instances charity also. He who preaches the gospel of love cannot be respected if men perceive that he is not animated by a real and deep love for God, and an earnest brotherly affection for all the race for which Christ died. And this temper must pervade his intercourse with society.

4. The apostle next instances spiritual mindedness; which does not mean a neglect of the things which are seen and a contempt for them, a voluntary humiliation and castigation of one’s self.

5. The apostle enjoins fidelity, entire faithfulness to every trust, faithfulness toward God and man, faithfulness in allowing no evil to spread in the Church because it is the besetment of his special friends. He must deal honestly in the preaching of the Word and in the administration of the discipline of his Church. He must not be drawn from the discharge of any duty by fear, favour, affection, reward, or the hope of reward.

6. The last thing mentioned by the apostle is purity; and no one can confine this to mere chastity, a perfectly apparent indispensable to the ministerial position; it must cover his whole life. (C. F. Deems, D. D.)


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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Titus 2". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.