He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.
I. THE TRUE TEMPER OF THE MINISTER OF CHRIST.
1. Negatively. "The servant of the Lord must not strive." This does not mean that
(1) he is not to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 1:4); but
(2) that he is not to fight about trifles, nor to argue with acerbity of temper, nor for mere victory. The "bond of peace" must be maintained in controversy.
(1) "But be gentle unto all men;" cultivating a spirit of habitual conciliation, while using arguments of the greatest cogency.
(2) "Apt to teach;" showing capacity and disposition to instruct the ignorant and the obstinate.
(3) "Patient;" bearing with the infirmities of weak brethren, with the irritating oppositions of adversaries, and with the reproaches of evil men generally.
(4) "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" to the truth as it is in Jesus, thwarting or perverting the gospel. The minister must be ready to instruct such persons in a meek and humble spirit, because they may be ignorant, or ill-informed, or deeply prejudiced from the circumstances of their early training.
II. THE BENEFITS THAT WILL ACCRUE FROM SUCH METHODS OF INSTRUCTION. "If God peradventure will give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by the Lord's servant unto the will of God."
1. A meek and gentle address may bring such errorists to repent of their sin and accept the true doctrine of faith. It is possible to repel them by our harsh reproaches. We ought rather to show them the truth without passion, and enforce it with all the kindly urgency of true affection. The necessity of repentance in such a case marks the essentially sinful character of opposition to the truth.
2. The servant of the Lord may be the means of recovering out of error as well as sin.
(1) Error is the devil's snare as well as sin, for it leads downwards to sin. It acts like a stupefying drink.
(2) Some errorists awake out of their intellectual intoxication, if they are wisely dealt with, and open their eyes to the blessed truth of the gospel.
(3) The will of God once established in such hearts, as the guiding principle of life, completes the recovery from error. - T.C.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God per adventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
I. THE CHARACTERS AMONG WHOM IT WAS TO RE EXERCISED — opposers not only of God, but of themselves. They oppose —
1. Their duty.
2. Their conscience.
3. Their peace.
4. Their safety.
II. ITS NATURE. It was a ministry of —
III. ITS DESIGN.
1. That sinners may be led to repentance.
2. Led to an acknowledgment of the truth.
3. Recovered from the snares of the devil.
1. Every thin vapour, light exhalation, will not afford matter to cause a thunder-crack; so each text, subject, doth not give warrant to denounce terrors.
2. Before it thunder we apprehend a light, and then the voice striketh the organ of hearing, and the eye of the mind is to be enlightened in order ere that judgment be threatened.
3. Thunder is rare, not at every season; should the minister continually shoot the shafts of God's indignation, would not the vulgar begin to smile, laugh him to scorn?
4. After a great crack of thunder the heavens grow black and refresh the earth with sweet showers of water, and when the bolts of justice are cast among the people a preacher is to assume a doleful look, a sad countenance. These rules observed, cry aloud, Thunder and spare not l What shall I more say? In the cause of thy Master be bold, resolute; in thine own, let meekness have her perfect work.
(J. Barlow, D. D.)
(H. O. Mackey.)I. HERE IS A SUPPOSITION LAID DOWN — THAT TRUTH IS SOMETHING REAL IN ITSELF AND OF IMPORTANCE TO MEN; something that may be found, and which we ought to seek after. Wherever the Scripture speaks of truth it always means such truth as has relation to religion. All truth, of what kind soever it be, is real. But truth in matters of religion is always of the greatest importance; as being the foundation and the support of right practice. These truths of God are like an immovable rock, the basis and foundation of that true religion which approves itself to every man's understanding by clear reason, and glorifies God by making men like unto Him through virtue and righteousness in their practice. All false religions consist in changing these truths of God into a lie (Romans 1:25).
II. Such is the corrupt state and disposition of mankind, THAT SOME THERE WILL ALWAYS BE WHO WILL SET THEMSELVES TO OPPOSE THE TRUTH, Notwithstanding the native excellency and beauty of truth considered in itself; notwithstanding the strength and clearness of reason with which it is generally accompanied; notwithstanding the apparent benefit and advantage to which the knowledge of truth always brings, to mankind; yet so little sensible are men of the intrinsic excellency of things, so unattentive to the strength of the clearest reason, so apt to be imposed upon in judging concerning their own true interests; that nothing is more common than to see the plainest and most useful truths in matters of religion violently and passionately opposed. The principal causes of this opposition are —
1. Ignorance. Meaning here by ignorance not a bare want of knowledge. There is a presumptuous ignorance which despises knowledge, and this makes men oppose the truth before they understand anything of it.
2. Carelessness. They blindly, and without any consideration, follow the customs of the place where they happen to live, and the knowledge of truth seems to them to be of no great importance. They take up their religion at adventures, not from the consideration of the laws of nature or of revelation, but merely from the company they chance to be educated amongst, and thus all religions are put upon an equal foot, varying according to the accidental temper, of the persons among whom they prevail.
3. Prejudice. They have accustomed themselves to found their belief entirely in an implicit reliance upon other men, instead of building it upon the evidence of things themselves which is the foundation of truth.
4. Rut the last and greatest reason of men's setting themselves in opposition to the truth is the wickedness and corruption of their manners, the love of unrighteousness and debauchery, the desire and power of dominion, the concern they are under for the defence and support of a sect or party without having any knowledge how far they are, or are not, in the right.
III. THE DIRECTION GIVEN US CONCERNING OUR OWN DUTY, THAT WE OUGHT IN MEEKNESS TO INSTRUCT THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEMSELVES AGAINST THE TRUTH. "We cannot always discern who they are that err through ignorance and through a vicious disposition. But if we would, yet meekness is at all times necessarily a fruit of the spirit, and we are commanded to be patient towards all men, towards them that oppose as well as towards them that are only ignorant of the truth.
IV. A PARTICULAR REASON WITH REGARD TO THE PERSONS TO BE INSTRUCTED, WHY OUR INSTRUCTION TO THEM OUGHT ALWAYS TO BE ACCOMPANIED WITH MEEKNESS. If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth. In the original it is, "Lest God peradventure should give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth." The meaning is, we are to instruct them with meekness, lest peradventure, by our heat and passion, we raise in them a just prejudice against us, when, by meek instruction, they might possibly have been brought to repentance, and to the acknowledgment of the truth, and so we, by our ill-behaviour become answerable for their miscarriage. For this reason we so frequently find repeated in Scripture the following admonitions, which may serve for a proper application of this whole discourse: 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Colossians 4:5; 1 Timothy 3:7; Philippians 2:15; Philippians 4:5; Matthew 5:16.
(S. Clarke, D. D.)1. One principal end of the ministry is to bring men to repentance.
2. By meek preaching God may work repentance.
3. Repentance is hopeful and yet doubtful.
4. Ministers are to preach and leave the success to the Lord.
(J. Barlow, D. D.)
(Sunday School Teacher.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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