For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
I. 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.
II. 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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,