As God's steward, an overseer must be above reproach--not self-absorbed, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not greedy for money.
I. THE BISHOP AT HOME. Polygamy was so widespread that it could not be arrested and done away with at once. But the bishops, as leaders of men, were to set the example. Polygamy, like slavery, was to be destroyed by the influence of the cross - by the crucifixion of human selfishness, and the realization of God's ideals in the dignity of woman and in the sacredness of human life. "Having faithful children," to whom "riot," or the indulgence of unruly appetites and habits, was unknown.
II. THE BISHOP AS A STEWARD. Having elevated position and large opportunity for good. We must remember that character makes the good steward, not ex-cathedra commands and exhortations. "Not self-willed;" but remembering that the measure of his power is to be the measure of his humility. "Not soon angry;" for if there be no self-repression, if the volcanic fires of the heart be not subdued, it will be of no use for him to preach about the cross which crucifies self. "Not given to wine;" for intemperance bereaves a man alike of reason and of religion. "No striker;" for although the Romans of that day used their power over slaves and dependents by buffeting them, and sometimes killing them, the servant of Christ must be gentle unto all men. "Not given to filthy lucre;" for covetousness kills other virtues, and draws by its tap-root all nourishment from the plants of grace.
III. THE BISHOP AS A BROTHER. "A lover of hospitality." Remembering how many would like to share his counsels, to walk in the light of his influence, and to be refreshed by his sympathies. "A lover of good men." Not great men, merely as men of genius and power; but men whose hearts were true and pure. "Sober, just, holy, temperate " - a "city that lieth four-square."
IV. THE BISHOP AS A TEACHER. Not indulging in novelties or new philosophies. Not a creator of truth, but a teacher of it, remembering that he is a trustee of truth. "Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught." Finally, we see that all was not so harmonious and peaceful even in the early Church; for the bishop is to exhort and convince the gainsayers, which show that he must be "able" as well as "good." - W.M.S.
Yet a bishop must be blameless
1. First, utter humility — "not lording it over God's heritage," etc., Pride is a sin foolish and hateful enough in any man, but it seems doubly so in a bishop. How instructive is that story of Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury. When he summoned the other bishops to meet him, they asked a holy hermit of Bangor how they might know whether Augustine was or was not a man of God, and he answered that they might follow him if they found him to be of a meek and humble heart, for that was the yoke of Christ; but if he bore himself haughtily they should not regard him, for then he was certainly not of God. They took his advice, and hastened to the place of meeting, and when Augustine neither rose to meet them nor received them in any brotherly sort, but sat all the while pontifical in the chair, they would not acknowledge him or denote that they owed him any obedience but that of love. One of the noblest men the Church has ever seen — St. — was also one of the most truly humble. Once a celebrated cardinal was seen passing to the high altar of his cathedral in scarlet robes and jewelled pectoral, in the midst of magnificent ecclesiastics; but one who knelt behind him, seeing a little stream of blood trickling where he knelt, observed that under the sweeping silken robes the great cardinal had been walking with bare feet over the flinty path, that his heart might be mortified amid the splendour of his state. Deep humility within — a violet which scarcely ever grows except at the foot of the cross — should be the mark of a true bishop.
2. Nor is utter self-sacrifice less necessary. If pride is detestable in a bishop, greed is no less so. The bishop who uses the revenues of his church to enrich his family, is false to one of the first duties of his post. The brother of the Bishop of Lincoln, in the twelfth century, complained that he was still left a ploughman. "Brother," said the great bishop, "if your cow dies, I will give you another, and if your plough wants mending I will have it mended; but a ploughman I found you, and a ploughman I mean to leave you." The income of the see should be spent upon the see. Poverty is never so honourable as in men who might be rich. When Archbishop Warren, Cranmer's predecessor, was told on his deathbed that he had only thirty pounds in the world, he answered with a smile, "Enough to pay my journey to heaven."
3. Simplicity of heart. None but small and unworthy men would lose by it. Neither pomp, nor wealth, nor office — prizes of accident as oft as merit — ever made any small man great. Once I was staying as a boy in a bishop's house, and there was dug up the brass plate from the tomb of one of his predecessors, and I have never forgotten the inscription on it: "Stay, passer by! See and smile at the palace of a bishop. The grave is the palace they must all dwell in soon!"
4. Unbounded courage. Scorn of mere passing popularity should be among his first qualities. When that persecuting emperor, Valens, sent his prefect to threaten St. Basil, and was met by a flat refusal of his demands, the prefect started from his seat and exclaimed, "Do you not fear my power?" "Why should I?" answered Basil. "What can happen to me?" "Confiscation," replied the prefect, "punishment, torture, death." "Is that all?" said Basil. "He who has nothing beyond my few books and these threadbare robes is not liable to confiscation. Punishment! How can I be punished when God is everywhere? Torture! — torture can only harm me for a moment; and death — death is a benefactor, for it will send me the sooner to Him whom I love and serve." "No one has ever addressed me so," said the prefect. "Perhaps," answered Basil, "you never met a true bishop before." You may think that bishops in these days have no need for such courage. They will not have to face kings and rulers, I dare say; but I wish all had the bolder and rarer courage to face the false world; to tell the truth to lying partisans, religious and other; to confront the wild and brutal ignorance of public opinion; to despise the soft flatteries of an easy popularity; to know by experience that Christ meant something when He said, "Blessed are ye when all men revile you for My name's sake."
5. Again, I ask, are bishops never called upon by their duty to exceptional moral faithfulness — to be, as it were, the embodied conscience of the Christian Church before the world? That was the splendid example set by St. . was a great, and in many respects a good, emperor; but in a fierce outburst of passion he had led his soldiers into the amphitheatre of Thessalonica, and had slain some five or six thousand human beings, the innocent no less than the guilty, in indiscriminate massacre. Courtiers said nothing; the world said nothing; civil rulers said nothing; then it was that St. Ambrose stood forth like the incarnate conscience of mankind. For eight months he excluded the emperor from the cathedral, and when he came at Christmastide to the Communion, he met him at the door, and, in spite of purple and diadem and praetorian guards, forbad him to enter till he had laid aside the insignia of a guilty royalty, and, prostrate with tears, upon the pavement, had performed a penance as public as his crime.
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
As the steward of GodI. First, the word implieth thus much, that God is a great Householder (Matthew 21:33); THAT HIS HOUSE IS HIS CHURCH, where He as a great personage keepeth His residence, more stately and honourable than the court or standing house of any earthly king in the world, in that herein He pleaseth to manifest His presence by His Spirit working in the Word and ministry; and as it is with other great houses, so the Spirit of God speaketh of this as committed not to one but many stewards, who take the charge of it to order and govern it according to the mind of the Master and unto His greatest honour and advantage. And these stewards are the ministers, so called —
1. Because as the steward in a house is to dispense all necessaries unto the whole family according to the allowance and liking of his lord, even so the minister receiveth from God power to administer according to the necessities of the Church all the things of God, as Word, sacraments, prayer, admonition, etc.
2. As the steward receiveth the keys of the house to open and shut, to lock and unlock, to admit or exclude out of the house, for so is it said of Eliakim (Isaiah 22:22), even so every minister receiveth the keys of the kingdom of heaven to open and shut heaven, to bind and loose, to remit and retain sins, as Matthew 16:19.
3. As the steward sitteth not in his own as an owner or freeholder, but is to be countable and to give up his hills monthly or quarterly when the master shall call for them, so every minister is to be countable of his talents received, and of his expenses, and how he hath dispensed his Master's goods (Hebrews 13:17). "They watch for their souls as they which must give account."
II. The second thing in this similitude to be considered is the force of the argument, which is this: THAT BECAUSE EVERY MINISTER IS CALLED TO A PLACE SO NEAR THE LORD AS TO BE HIS STEWARD, THEREFORE HE MUST BE UNBLAMEABLE. Where we have the ground of another instruction. Every man as he is nearer unto God in place must be so much the more careful of his carriage: that he may both resemble Him in his virtues, dignify his place, and walk more worthy of Him that hath drawn him so near Himself. Besides that, every master looketh to be graced by his servant; and much more will the Lord be glorified either of or in all those that come near Him (Leviticus 10). For as the master quickly turneth out of his doors such disgraceful persons as become reproachful to the family, even so the Lord, knowing that the infamous courses of the servant reacheth itself even to the master, turneth such out of His service which are the just subjects of reproach.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
(S. Cook, D. D.)
Not self-willed —1. It is the mother of error in life and doctrine, yea, of strange opinions, schisms, and heresies themselves; and it cannot be otherwise, seeing the ear of a self-conceited person is shut against all counsel, without which "thoughts come to nought, as where many counsellors are is steadfastness." And as everywhere almost the wicked man is termed a froward man, and a wicked and ungodly heart a froward heart, so is it generally true which the wise man observed, that such a froward heart can never find good, but evil and woe cleaveth unto it: and therefore David, when he would shut the door of his soul against much evil, said, "A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know," that is, affect and act, "evil."
2. Whereas men think it a note of learning and wisdom not to yield an inch in any opinion they take up, the Spirit of God brandeth it with a note of folly: and it is no other than the way of the fool which seemeth good in his own eyes. Indeed, neither minister nor ordinary Christian may be as shaking reeds, tossed hither and thither with every blast of wind; but yet is it a wise man's part to hear and try and not stick to his own counsel as a man wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can give a reason: for there is greater hope of a fool than of such a one.
3. There are many necessitudes and occasions between the minister and people: he must admonish the inordinate, raise with comforts the afflicted, restore those that are fallen, and set their bones again tenderly by the spirit of meekness, and privately encourage those that do well. Again, they must consult with him, ask him sometimes of his doctrine, lay open unto him their grief as to their physician under Christ, and seek for particular direction in special cases from him: in all which and many more mutual duties they may not by this inordinate humour be deterred and hindered, but rather with all meekness and lenity be allured, lovingly entertained, and contentedly dismissed from him.Use —
1. The minister must learn to be docile and affable: the former fitteth him to learn of others, the latter to teach others; for none can be apt to teach others who is not apt to learn of others; and in the minister especially a tractable and teachable disposition is a singular inviting of others by his example more easily to admit his teaching, whether by reprehension, admonition, or howsoever.
2. So hearers (seeing frowardness is such an impediment to instruction) must learn to cast it from them, which in many (otherwise well affected) is a disposition hard to please: in some making them seldom contented with the pains, matter, or manner of their ministry; but having a bed in their brain of their own size, whatsoever is longer they cut off, whatsoever is shorter they stretch and rack it: for their own opinions may not yield, not knowing to give place to better. Others are secure, and therein grown froward against the Word.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
Not soon angry —
1. Whereas a minister ought to be a man of judgment, knowledge, and understanding (for these are most essential unto his calling), yea, a man of such wisdom as whereby all his actions, ministerial and common, should be ordered; this flashing anger overturneth for the present, yea, and drowneth all his judgment, for what other is it than a little fury and a short madness?
2. The pestilent effects and fruits of anger, and the natural daughters resembling the mother are such, as in a minister of all men are intolerable: as, swelling of the mind so high, and so full as there is no room for good motions and meditations (which should wholly take up the minister's heart) to dwell by it: the often arising of God's enemies, and harming and wounding of His friends, for anger is cruel and wrath is raging: it cares not for any, nor spares any that come in the way of it; for who can stand before envy? And from this indignation of heart proceed usually impiety against God, for all prayers and parts of His worship are interrupted; contumely against men, for the bond of love is broken; clamour of speech, violence of hands, temerity of actions, late repentance, and many more such symptoms of this desperate disease: for he hath lost all the bridle and moderation of himself. Now what government is he worthy of, especially in the Church of God, that ordinarily loseth all the government of himself?
3. The minister standing in the room and stead of God ought to be a mortified man, for till he have put off this filthy fruit of the flesh can he never lively express the virtues of God, who is a God of patience, meekness, much in compassion, slow to wrath; and much less can he fitly stamp and imprint that part of His image on others, yea, or teach them to withstand such hot and hasty affections which so suddenly surprise and inflame himself.
4. As the minister is to be a means of reconciling God unto man, so likewise of man unto man; which commendable duty a hasty man can never to purpose perform: nay, rather he stirreth up strife and marreth all: whereas Solomon observeth that only he "that is slow to wrath appeaseth strife," for this unruly passion will disable a man to hear the truth of both parties indifferently, nor abideth to hear the debate, but it will be thundering threats before time serve to take knowledge of tim matter.
5. This vice prejudiceth all his ministerial actions.(1) In his own heart. For the minister shall often meet in his calling with those, both at home and abroad, who in many things are far different from him both in judgment and practice; yea, some of weakness, and others of obstinacy, loathing even his wholesome doctrine. Now his calling is, and consequently his care should be, to gain these to the love and liking of the truth: to which end he is not presently to break out into anger: for thus he sets them further off, and scandaliseth such as otherwise he might have won, no more than the physician is or may be angry though the weak stomach of his patient loathe and cast up his wholesome physic, for that would set the patient into further distemper; but such must be restored by the spirit of meekness.(2) In his people's hearts, by alienating their love and affection, which are easily worn away with the distasteful fruits of this hasty anger: let him instruct, admonish, reprove, every one findeth this evasion, one he doth in anger, another not in love, and so his whole work is lost and become fruitless: whereas by loving usage he might have pierced his people with a permanent and lasting affection, and won better entertainment to all his proceedings.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
1. For the former —(1) Meditate on the providence of God, without which not the least grief or injury could befall us, for even the least is a portion of that cup which God's hand reacheth unto us to drink of.(2) On the patience and lenity of God, who with much mercy suffereth vessels ordained unto destruction. How long did He suffer the old world? how loath was He to strike if in a hundred and twenty years He could have reclaimed them! And add hereunto the meekness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath commanded us to learn it of Him: His voice was not heard in the streets; a bruised reed He would not break: how long bare He with Judas, being no better than a devil within His family!(3) On the unbounded measure of God's mercy, whose virtue His child must endeavour to express. God forgiveth to that man which injureth thee much more than thou canst; He forgiveth him infinite sins, and canst not thou pass by one offence? and thou hast more reason, for thou knowest not his heart nor his intention; it may be he meant better unto thee: neither art thou acquainted with the strength of his temptation, which perhaps was such as would have overthrown thyself, nor the reason why the Lord suffereth him to be overcome and fall by it. And yet if all this cannot bridle the headiness of this vile lust, apply this mercy of God to thyself: thou standest in need of a sea of God's mercy for the washing of so many soul offences; and wilt not thou let one drop fall upon thy brother to forbear and forgive in trifling wrongs.(4) Upon the danger of retaining wrath, which is an high degree of murder, thou prayest to be forgiven as thou forgivest: the promise is, forgive and it shall be forgiven you: the threatening is, "that judgment merciless shall be to him that showeth not mercy": and be sure that what measure thou metest unto others shall be measured to thee again and returned into thine own bosom.
2. And for the practices —(1) In thine anger make some delay before thou speakest or doest anything, which point of wisdom nature hath taught her clients to observe. That of Socrates to his servant is better known than practised, "I had smitten thee but that I was angry": and memorable is that answer of Athenodorus to Augustus, desiring him to leave him some memorable document and precept, advised him that when he was angry he should repeat over the Greek alphabet before he attempted any speech or action. But although this be a good means, yet will it be to no purpose without the heart be purged of disorder: therefore(2) Apply to thy heart by faith the death of Christ, to the crucifying of this lust of the flesh: nothing else can cleanse the heart but the blood of Jesus Christ, who, as He was crucified, so they that are His have also crucified the flesh and the lusts of it.(3) After the inward disposition use outward helps, as —(a) Avoid occasions, as chiding, contentions, multiplying of words, which, though they be wind, yet do they mightily blow up this fire.(b) Depart from the company of the Contentious, as Jacob from Esau, and Jonathan avoided the fury of his father by rising up and going his way.(c) Drive away with an angry countenance whisperers, tale bearers, flatterers, who are Satan's seedsmen, by whom he soweth his tares everywhere, and his bellows by whom he bloweth up these hellish sparkles, desirous to bring all things into combustion and confusion.(4) Pray for strength and grace against it, especially for the contrary virtues of humility, meekness, love, and a quiet spirit which is of God much set by: and having obtained strength and victory against the assaults of it, forget not to be thankful, but break out into the praises of God as David (1 Samuel 25:32, 33).
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
Not given to wine —πάροινος (ver. 7; 1 Timothy 3:3) — viz., by wine, sitting long by his wine — without being a drunkard; and this, also, is condemned by the apostle. A man once said to me, "I drink wine regularly; I like it, and require a bottle or two daily, but I never drink to excess; I am no drunkard, and in all my life I have never been rendered incapable of doing my duties by wine." Very likely, but yet you are πάροινος. You like your wine, and sit long by it, and therefore you are condemned by the apostle. Generally speaking, the more simply and abstemiously we live the better; and bishops especially should in this, as in all others, be examples to the flock.
(W. Graham, D. D.)1. To be addicted to the wine or strong drink "taketh away the heart" (Hosea 4:11), that is, troubleth the understanding, confoundeth the senses, and equalleth a man to the brute beast without understanding: and thus disableth the man of God in all the practice of his calling. As the wise man therefore saith (Proverbs 31:4), so much less is it for the minister and pastor set over God's people, lest he forget God's decrees and change His judgments as Aaron's sons did.
2. This sitting at wine calleth him from the duties and means of his fitness unto his calling; he cannot attend to reading, exhortation, doctrine, which is straightly enjoined (1 Timothy 4:13).
3. Such a man is so far from performance of any faithful duty, that he cannot but become rather an enemy to those that do. Thus the love of wine makes them fail in vision: and the sitting at wine lutleth them asleep, "even on the top of the mast" (as Solomon speaketh of the drunkard), that in times and places of most present and desperate dangers, they see none nor fear any.
4. It disableth all the duties that such a one in his most sobriety can perform (suppose them never so commendable), seeing he hath made himself and calling so contemptible: for what authority can an oracle have out of s drunken man's mouth, which is so accustomed to speak lewd things? and one who hath shaken hands with the most base and wicked companions in a country, which is another inseparable companion of this sin (Hosea 7:5).
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
No strikersmite them with his fists, and some times scourge and whip them. But though he was a most ignorant and consummate savage, yet from such a Scripture as this he might have seen the necessity of surrendering his mitre.
Not given to filthy lucre1. Meditate —(1) On God's commandment (Proverbs 23:4; Matthew 6:25). And reason there is, that seeing distracting and solicitous thoughts are the ground of covetous practices, the care of a Christian must be to walk diligently in his calling, but leave all the success and blessing of it unto God.(2) On God's promises (Psalm 55:24; 1 Peter 5:7). Make these promises thy purchase and possess them by belief, and they shall be instead of a bridle unto all covetous and greedy desires of gain. And thus the apostle dissuadeth it (Hebrews 13:5). Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with things present. They might ask, but how shall we attain hereunto: have we not cares and charges upon us? True; but you have where to lay them: for He hath said, "I will not leave thee nor forsake thee."(3) On thy own deserts: whereby Jacob in want stayed his mind, "I am less than the least of Thy mercies."(4) On the inordinancy of thy desire: for how little is nature con tented with! and a very little above a little choketh it: and yet grace is contented with much less: it careth not how little it see about it, for it believeth the more, hopeth the more, trusteth the more, prayeth the more, and loveth the more. All the labour of a man (saith Solomon) "is for his mouth"; the mouth is but little and strait, soon filled, "yet the desire is not filled": noting it to be an unnatural desire in many men, who labour not as men who were to feed a mouth but a great gulf fit to swallow whole Jordan at a draught, or such a mouth as the Leviathan which receiveth the cart and drawers of it.
2. Practise these rules following(1) Carry an equal mind to poverty and riches, and aim at Paul's resolution, "I can want and abound," I can be full and hungry, in every condition I can he content. If the world come in upon thee, use it as not using it; if it do not, yet account the present condition the best for thee, because the Lord doth so account it: and the way to get wealth is to give it up into God's disposition, as Abraham by offering up Isaac to the Lord kept him still.(2) Turn the stream of thy desires from earthly to heavenly things, makings, with David, God thy portion; then shalt thou be better without these than ever thou weft or canst be with them.(3) Thou must go one step further, daily to cross the affection directly(a) By daily seeking the assurance of the pardon of sin.(b) By daily prayer against this sin especially.(c) By daily reading the Scriptures, which are the sword of the Spirit to cut off such lusts, wisely observing and applying such places as most cross it.(d) By being ready to do good, and distribute, and exercising liberality upon all good motions and occasions.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
A lover of hospitalityLuke 14:13); if he has two coats, the first naked man whom he meets gets one of them; if the Lord has given him wealth, he actually realises the 25th of Matthew, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those that are in prison. He loves to see the learned and the good, the advanced Christian and the weak believer, assembled round his table, in free and full and unrestrained conversation; it is his noble privilege to meet with all classes, mix with all classes, and still be a blessing to them all; he can fare with a peasant or feast with a prince, and be equally satisfied with either.
(W. Graham, D. D.)I. THE OCCASION OF THIS PRECEPT WAS THE DISTRESSED ESTATE AND CONDITION OF THE CHURCH, which by reason of many tyrants and persecutors was driven into many straits, partly perceived in present and partly foreseen by the prophetical spirit of the apostle, not only in the ten persecutions then imminent, but also in the several afflictions of the world, in which they were to find tribulation even to the end of it. For as it is in this aspectable world, which is subject to so many changes and mutations, because it standeth in the vicissitudes of years, months, days, and nights, so much more is it in the spiritual world of the Church, which in the earth is acquainted with her winter as well as summer, her nights as well as days: sometimes the Sun of Righteousness most comfortably shining and imparting His heat and light by His near approach unto her; yea, and sometimes there be two suns in this firmament, for together with the sun of the Church, the sun of the world affordeth warm and comfortable days for the full beauty, liberty, and glory of the Church. But sometimes, again, this sun departeth in displeasure and carrieth the sun of the world with him, then is a black winter of the Church, nothing but storms and tempests, persecutions and trials, one in the neck of another, and scarce one fair gleam between. Now in such times the poor Church is driven to travel for rest, and the innocent dove of Christ cannot find in her own land any rest for the sole of her foot; well may she fly abroad to seek her security. In all which times every Christian is bound by this and such like precepts to give her harbour and safe conduct till the dash and storm be over. Besides, suppose the Church in general at her best estate, yet the particular members of the Church are for most part poor and needy, and even then subject to many troubles for keeping the faith and good consciences, by means whereof they are often driven from house and home, and sometimes are in banishment and exile, sometimes in prison and bonds; all whom the Lord commendeth to the charitable and Christian devotion of Christian men, and bindeth them to the cheerful receiving and relieving of them in such necessity; let them be strangers yet, if they be of the household of faith, they have right to harbour and relieve, and in the practice of this duty the apostle requireth that the minister be the foreman.
II. It will be inquired WHETHER EVERY MINISTER MUST BE HARBOUROUS AND HOSPITABLE, and if he must, what shall become of them whose livings are scarce able to harbour themselves; and much more of the swarms of our ten-pound men, and very many scarce half that to maintain their family? it seemeth that every minister ought to be a rich man. I answer, that the poorest minister may not exempt himself from this duty, neither is altogether disabled from it; a poor man may be merciful and comfortable to the distressed some way or other, as if with Peter and John he have not money or meat to give, yet such as he hath he can give — counsel, prayers, and his best affections.
III. THE REASONS ENFORCING THIS PRECEPT UPON THE MINISTER ESPECIALLY.
1. In regard of strangers he must take up this duty whether they be strangers from the faith, that hereby he might win them to the love of true religion which they see to be so merciful and liberal, or else if they be converted much more that he may comfort and confirm such as are banished, or otherwise evil entreated for the confession and profession of the truth, for if every Christian, much more must the minister be affected to those that are in bonds, as though himself were bound with them, and consequently look what kindness he would receive if he were in their condition, the same to his power he is to bestow upon them.
2. In regard of his own people, upon whom by this means he sealeth his doctrine sundry ways; but especially if he keep open house for the poor Christians in want he bindeth the souls of such receivers to obey the Word, and encourageth them by his entertainment in their entertainment of the gospel.
IV. THE USE.
1. It teacheth that it were to be wished that the maintenance of every minister were competent, certain, and proper unto himself, that he might have wherewith to perform this so necessary a duty.
2. In regard of poor strangers, to stir up ministers and people to a liberal heart towards them all, but especially if they be such as, the land of whose own possessions being unclean, come over unto the land of the possession of the Lord, wherein the Lord's tabernacle dwelleth. How few children hath Abraham, the father of our faith, among us, who sit in the door of their tent to watch for and enforce strangers to receive their best entertainment! Few be our Lots, who will undergo any loss, any indignity, before strangers shall sustain any harm at all; he will offer his own daughters to their violence, he will use reasons, they had known no man, and that which would have persuaded any but the Sodomites he used last, that they were strangers and were come under his roof. Few Jobs, who will not suffer the stranger to lodge in the street, but open their doors to him that passeth by the way.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
A lover of good men1. A good man is always deeply sensible of the opposite of goodness — of moral evil — in himself and in the world around him. The inner cry of his heart often is, "O wretched man that I am," "When I would do good, evil is present with me!" It is present, but not allowed; hated rather, mourned over, repented of, put away in purpose. The goodness of the man is shown in this internal preference — a preference of which, in the first instance, only the man himself is conscious, but which is certain to become apparent to others. For, be sure of this, that what we most deeply regard in our own hearts cannot be permanently hidden from others. Exactly so it is with regard to evil in the world around him, that is, the evil that is in other men. A good man cannot look upon evil with favour or allowance; the instinct that is within him will put him in a moment in moral opposition to the evil that is in the world. Conscience says, with Luther, "Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me, God!" The world's way is a way of universal conciliation and compliance and apology.
2. A good man, while standing in direct moral opposition to evil will, at the same time, be pitiful and compassionate towards the subjects of it. He will be like God in this. God hates evil. God pities those who are caught in its toils, and who suffer its penalties and are loaded with its curse. He pities them and comes to save them.
3. A good man is humble, modest, moderate in his own esteem. He has the sense of his frailty, of his sin, and all the limitations of his nature, and the sorrows and troubles of this earthly life to keep him humble. A proud man is foolish, in the deepest sense, and ignorant.
4. A good man is one who does good. As the righteous man is one who doeth righteousness; as the merciful man is one who "sheweth mercy," and the generous man one who gives at some self-sacrifice; so in a larger sense the good man is one who does good, as he has opportunity, at his own cost, with some intelligent purpose for the benefit of his fellow men; who does good from a grateful sense of the great goodness of God to him; does good from a real love of the action, and a love of the people to whom he does it; — who, in one word, is like God Himself, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not — "who sends His rain on the lust and on the unjust." A good man is one, in short, who has the active and passive virtues more or less in exercise. They are not in perfect exercise: some of them may be scarcely in sight at all, but he is inclined to all the virtue and set, in the temper of his mind, against all evil.
5. There is on the whole not much difficulty in distinguishing such a man from a man who is not good — who is not true, who is not faithful; who is not generous, nor humble, nor helpful; who has no likeness to Christ, who is not morally a child of God. The difficulty is greater when we come to compare this real Christian goodness with some of the more promising types of natural amiability. Some men are made to be loved. They are so kind, so bright, so helpful, so full of sympathy, and they carry all this somehow so much in their temper, and in the whole habit of their life, and even often on their very countenances, that they make their way at once wherever they wish to be. After all some of them may be good and true in the deepest and most essential sense; many of them may be good up to the point of their knowledge — "He that doeth righteousness is righteous." He that doeth good is good; and without any fear we may be "lovers of" such good men.
6. If we love good men, we shall observe them thoughtfully, we shall look at their spirit and character, their aims and their purposes in life. Love will soon die, love of any kind, unless it be fed by thought and kindled anew by remembrance. "Therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan." "When I remember these things" — the privileges and joys of bygone days — "I pour out my soul in me"; in distress and apprehension lest they should never be renewed, and yet in fervent hope that they may; that I shall again ascend the hill of Zion, and sing at her feasts among the bands of the faithful and the good.
7. If we love good men we shall associate with them. They will be our hearts' aristocracy, the very uppermost circle of life to us, "our joy and crown." By such association we shall get social and spiritual advantages that could not otherwise come to us.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(W. Graham, D. D.)
Just, holy, temperate —1. Just refers to the principles of equity in our conduct with one another. In the entire management and government of his Church, but especially in discipline, the bishop or elder requires this qualification. He must look upon the poor and the rich, the ignorant and the learned, in this respect with an equal eye.
2. Holy, on the other hand, expresses more especially our relations towards God, who is so often called in Scripture "the Holy One of Israel." He is a saint, and rejoices to be numbered with the company of those that are sanctified. His external conduct, which is altogether just, is not superficial but real, and flows from holiness of heart; and all his noble actions in the sight of man are based on the new heart, the new nature, and the new hope within him. He is holy: his presence rebukes the ungodly, and the tongue of the wicked is silent before him; the atmosphere around him is pure, salubrious, and serene; his words when he speaks are like ointment poured forth; his holy exhortations and heavenly prayers are full of the blessing of the Lord; and his whole walk in the midst of the people is like the sun, brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. This twofold relation of man to his neighbour and to God was known to the heathen, for Polybius says (23:10, 8), "Just in respect to our fellow man, and holy in things pertaining to God." Both of these meet in the Christian bishop and form the greatest perfection of his character. He is distinguished by justice among his fellow creatures on earth, and his holiness connects him with his Lord and Head in heaven.
3. He is also temperate, ἐκρατῆς, (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 9:25) — powerful, master of himself, having self-control, and hence continent, which is undoubtedly the meaning of it here. He has renounced the world, the devil, and the flesh, and he will not be drawn away from his high calling by sensual pleasure.
(W. Graham, D. D.)
Holding fast the faithful Word —I. PERSONAL CONVICTION OF THE TRUTH.
II. APTNESS TO TEACH OTHERS.
III. POWER OF PERSUASION AND CONVICTION.
(F. Wagstaff.)I. THE WORD OF GOD IS A FAITHFUL WORD, AND INFALLIBLE.
1. The author is holy and true (Revelation 3:7, 14).
2. The instruments were led by the immediate direction of the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).
3. The matter of this Word is an everlasting truth; the law an eternal rule of righteousness as ancient as God Himself; the gospel an everlasting gospel, containing promises of eternal truth, etc.
4. The form of it, which is the conformity of it with God Himself, maketh it appear that if God be faithful this His Word must needs also be so; in that it resembleth Him in His omnipotency, for this power and arm of God never returneth in vain but doth all the work of it. In His wisdom giving most perfect and sure directions, resolving all doubtful cases, and making wise unto salvation. In His purity and perfection being an undefiled and perfect law. In His omniscience it searcheth the heart, discovereth the thoughts, divideth between the marrow and bone (Hebrews 4:12). In His judgment acquitting believers, to whom it is a sweet savour of life to life; condemning infidels both here and much more at the last day (John 12:48). In His truth and verity as here, and Colossians 1:5, it is called the word of truth.
5. The ends shew the certainty and faithfulness of it, it being the only means of regeneration (1 Peter 1:21), of begetting faith, (Romans 10), and, consequently, both of freeing men from hell and of assuring them of that freedom; the only word that can supply sound and firm consolation, yea settled and assured comfort unto distressed consciences, none of which ends could it ever attain if itself were unsound and uncertain.
II. NOW AS IT CARRIETH WITH IT ALL THESE GROUNDS, SO ARE THERE A NUMBER WITHOUT IT MORE whereby we may confirm the same truth, as —
1. It is the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20), against which if hell gates could ever prevail the Church were utterly sunk.
2. Hereunto hath the Lord tied His Church, as to an infallible direction, to the law, and to the testimony, without which there is nothing but error and wandering; ye err not knowing the Scriptures.
3. This truth hath been above all other oppugned by Satan, heretics, tyrants, yet never a whir of it was ever diminished; Solomon's books may be lost, but not these of the true Solomon, Jesus Christ.
4. This Word hath been so certainly sealed in the hearts of the elect of all ages that where it once was harboured in truth it could never be shaken out by any kind of most exquisite torture and torment.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
1. If it be so faithful a Word every man must attend unto it (2 Peter 1:19); we have a surer word, to which ye do well that ye attend.
2. To lay up this Word surely, as being the sure evidence of thy salvation, and of thy heavenly inheritance among the saints. Men lock up their evidences or conveyances of land in sure and safe places, delight often to read them, suffer no man to cousen them of them, whatsoever casualty come these are by all means possible safeguarded, and shall any man carelessly neglect such an evidence as this is, without which he hath no assurance of salvation, nor the tenure (out of his idle conceit) of one foot in heaven; a lame man, if he hold not his staff, falleth; and whosoever loseth his part in the Word loseth his part in heaven.
3. Here is a ground of thankfulness, in that the Lord hath not only vouchsafed us life and glory and immortality when we were dead, and when nothing could be added to our misery; but hath also given us such a constant guide and direction thereunto. Now what can we do less than in way of thankfulness(1) Yield up ourselves to be directed by this faithful Word.(2) Believe it in whatsoever it commandeth, threateneth, or promiseth, in that it is such a faithful Word; and hereby we set also our seal unto it.(3) Constantly cleave unto it in life and in death, and not to be so foolish as to be soon removed to another gospel, nor so fickle as children, to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, but hold fast such a stable truth, so full of direction in all the life, and so full of comfort at the time of death; for it is as a fast and faithful friend, tried in time of adversity, standing closest to a man in his greatest necessity.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince —1. In that the Word is called doctrine, and no doctrine is without a teacher; it behoveth every man to repair to the teachers of it.
2. As this doctrine implieth teachers, so doth it also learners and scholars. Teaching us that we must all of us become learners of this Word and doctrine, for so long as there is doctrine and teaching on God's part so must there be an hearkening and learning on ours, and the rather, both because that which is said of all knowledge, that it is infinite, is much more true of this, for God's commandments are exceeding large, as also seeing in this school we are to become not only more learned but better men.
3. In that the apostle calleth that here wholesome doctrine, which in the words before he called a faithful Word, and fitted for doctrine. Note that the men of God, when they fell into speech of the Word of God, they spoke not slightly of it and away, but were hardly drawn from it without leaving behind them some notable eulogy or other upon it (Romans 1:16): the gospel the power of God to salvation (John 6:68). Peter saith not, Master, Thou hast the word of God, but Thou hast the words of eternal life; and what a number of glorious things are ascribed unto it (Hebrews 4:12). Hence according to their several occasions are all those excellent epithets ascribed unto it through the Scriptures, some of the penmen looking at the author, some at the matter, some to the qualities, some to the effects, and accordingly invest it with titles well beseeming it.
4. Whereas the apostle is not contented that the minister should teach but exhort also; it teacheth ministers to labour for this gift whereby an edge is set upon their doctrine, and wherewith as with a goad they prick on the affections of those that are under the yoke of Christ. A difficult thing it is, for teaching is an easy task in comparison of it, and yet so necessary as that all the ministerial work is called by this name (Acts 13:15).
5. Whereas the apostle addeth that exhortation must go with wholesome doctrine, we note that then is exhortation powerful and profitable, when it is firmly grounded upon sound and wholesome doctrine.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
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