Titus 2:15
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. The business of the minister is concerning all the things commanded in this chapter both as to doctrine and duty.

I. THESE DOCTRINES AND DUTIES WERE TO BE "SPOKEN OF," SO AS TO BE BROUGHT TO BEAR WITH POWER ON THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE PEOPLE.

II. THEY WERE TO BE MADE MATTERS OF OBLIGATION IN THE CONSCIENCE; for Titus was to practice exhortation.

III. REBUKE WAS TO BE APPLIED WITH ALL AUTHORITY WHERE EXHORTATION FAILED OF ITS EFFECT.

IV. TITUS WAS TO LIVE SO CIRCUMSPECTLY THAT THE CRETANS COULD NOT DESPISE HIM. "Let no man despise thee." Contempt would be the natural effect of observed inconsistency in the life of the young evangelist. - T.C.







These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke
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.

I. 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.

II. 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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

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 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.)

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.)

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.)

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.

I. 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.

II. 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.

III. 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.

IV. 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.

V. 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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