Titus 3:1
Remind the believers to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient and ready for every good work,
Political DutiesT. Croskery Titus 3:1
Avoiding Evil SpeakingW. Baxendale.Titus 3:1-2
Christian DutyT. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Christian GentlenessT. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Christian MeeknessT. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Christian UsefulnessJ. Burns, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Christians Should be Taught Good CitizenshipProfessor B. Pierce.Titus 3:1-2
Civil DutiesJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Contention to be AvoidedT. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Cure for Evil SpeakingA. W. Hare, M. A.Titus 3:1-2
DetractionW. Moodie, D. D., T. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
DutyD. Thomas, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Evil SpeakingArchbishop Tillotson.Titus 3:1-2
Evil SpeakingIsaac Barrow, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Gentleman DefinedJ.C. Hare.Titus 3:1-2
Honouring AuthorityH. W. Beecher.Titus 3:1-2
MeeknessTitus 3:1-2
Ministers RemembrancersT. Taylor, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Obedience to Civil MagistratesN. Emmons, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
On Evil SpeakingJ. Jortin, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Readiness to Good Works Explained and RecommendedJ. Benson.Titus 3:1-2
Sin of Evil SpeakingF. W. Robertson, M. A.Titus 3:1-2
Subjection to Civil RulersHenry Dove, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
Subjection to the StateW.M. Statham Titus 3:1, 2
The Authority of LawF. Wagstaff.Titus 3:1-2
The Christian CitizenC. S. Robinson, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
The Christian CitizenMonday Club SermonsTitus 3:1-2
The Christian's Loyalty to Secular GovernmentD. C. Hughes, M. A.Titus 3:1-2
The Might of MeeknessJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Titus 3:1-2
The Subject's DutyJohn Cleaver, M. A.Titus 3:1-2
To the Active ChristianG. Brooks.Titus 3:1-2
DutyD. Thomas Titus 3:1-3
The apostle now turns to the duties which Christians owe to the pagan world around them.

I. THE NECESSITY OF THE INJUNCTION TO POLITICAL SUBMISSION. "Put them in mind." The words imply that the duty was already known, but needed to be recalled to Cretan memory. It is but too certain that the injunction was needed. Once a democratic state, now for over a century under Roman law, and always remarkable for a factious and turbulent spirit, the Cretan impatience of authority was reinforced by the spirit of insubordination which was such a characteristic of the Jewish part of the community.

II. THE DUTY OF SUBMISSION TO CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. "Put them in mind to be subject to authorities, to powers, to obey the magistrate, to be ready towards every good work." The very redundancy of words used here is significant, as if to exclude the possibility of an evasion of the command.

1. Government is of God. "The powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13).

2. The form of government does not affect the duty of obedience. Monarchies, republics, oligarchies, have in them alike the ordination and power of God for the welfare of society.

3. There are limits to this obedience, but the apostle does not fix them. The exceptional cases are not mentioned, because they are summed up either in the primary law of self-preservation, which is antecedent to all government, or in the supremacy of conscience, which must always obey God rather than men. A king may become insane and murder his subjects, but the first principles of nature justify their resort to force in self-protection (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:9, 20). The king may command his subjects to practice idolatry. In that case, if the Christian cannot resist, he must die.

III. POLITICAL DUTY IN THE CASE OF CHRISTIANS INCLUDES MORE THAN SUBMISSION. They must be "ready toward every good work." As the magistrate is appointed to be a terror to evil-doers and the praise of them that do well (Romans 13:3), the disposition of Christian subjects to every good work has a tendency to make government easy and light. - T.C.

Put them in mind to be subject
I. WHO ARE TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY CIVIL RULERS. All those who are in the peaceable possession of civil power.


1. The Scripture expressly enjoins this duty upon subjects.

2. The duty of submission naturally results from the relation which subjects bear to their rulers. There would be no propriety in calling the body of the people subjects, unless they were under obligation to obey those in the administration of government.

3. All subjects ought to obey their rulers for the sake of the public good.


1. Preachers are expressly required to press this plain and important duty upon the people of their charge.

2. It becomes the preachers of the gospel, in this case, to fellow the example of the inspired teachers — John the Baptist, Christ, etc.

3. It no less belongs to the office of gospel ministers to teach men their duty towards civil rulers than to teach them any other moral or religious duty.

4. There are some peculiar reasons why the duty of submission to civil authority should be more especially inculcated upon the minds of subjects.(1) Men are extremely apt to forget that they are under any moral obligation to obey the rulers of the land.(2) There is scarcely any duty more disagreeable to the human heart than submission to civil government.(3) The safety and happiness of the whole body politic more essentially depend upon each member's performing this, than any other duty. Where there is no subordination, there can be no government; and where there is no government, there can be no public peace nor safety.Concluding reflections:

1. There is no ground to complain of the ministers of the gospel for inculcating political duties.

2. There appears to be no more difficulty in determining the measure of submission to civil government than the measure of submission to any other human authority.

3. It is extremely criminal to disobey civil rulers, and oppose the regular administration of government.

4. It is criminal not only to disobey and resist civil authority, but also to countenance, cherish, and inflame a spirit of disobedience and rebellion.

5. Those in executive authority are under indispensable obligation to give rebels and traitors a just recompense of reward. They are God's ministers to execute wrath upon them that do evil; and they ought not to hold the sword of justice in vain.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)


1. Subjection to the general government.

2. Obedience to the local authorities.

3. Readiness to help the government in times of emergency.

4. Carefulness in respect to the reputation of their fellow citizens.

5. Peaceful and order-loving.


1. The spiritual change wrought upon believers.

2. Some blessed features of the source of this change.

(1)Its graciousness.

(2)Its method.

(3)Its abundance.

(4)Its justifying power.

(5)Its benefits and tendency.Lessons:

1. The superiority of Christianity.

(1)The best thing for the State.

(2)The best thing for individuals.

(3)The best thing for the family.

2. The unmistakable evidences of the Divine origin of Christianity.

(1)In its love of man.

(2)In its legitimate effects on man and on society.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. THE MANNER OF PROPOUNDING THE COUNSEL. Titus is here enjoined two things:

1. To call back into their minds an old doctrine — not what they had newly learned since their becoming Christians, but what nature and reason had taught them long before.

2. To inculcate, or beat often upon this point.(1) Because men generally are ambitious of liberty, unwilling, if lust or pride of heart be listened to, to be subject to any yoke, whether of God or man; ever ready to think one man as good as another, and with Korah to suggest that every Moses and Aaron takes too much upon him.(2) Because the dispersed Jews (of whom there was no small number at that time in Crete) stood very much upon temporal privileges; as upon Abraham, the temple, the law, etc. And ever loath they were to stoop to the authority of the Gentiles.(3) Because the Christians at that time, both of Jews and Gentiles, stood as much upon spiritual privileges, not thinking it sufficient to be set free from the thraldom of Satan, and bondage of sin, and so to be made spiritual kings unto God and the Lamb; unless by a boundless (Christian) liberty, as they supposed, they might be at their own hands to do as they listed.


1. The duties required.(1) By subjection is meant honour, reverence, and respect to the persons whom God has set in authority over us.(2) By obedience is meant a free voluntary readiness of mind to yield to, and to execute whatsoever lawful command of a superior. Where there is conscience of subjection, there will be cheerfulness in obedience.

2. The second considerable in the substance of the precept is —(1) The persons to whom these duties belong, namely, to all magistrates, which are here distributed into two ranks, principalities, powers. By the former we understand such who have primary and plenary power under God, and by this their proper power and authority have an absolute command within their several dominions; such are Caesars, kings, and chief governors in free states. The latter signifieth such as exercise delegated authority, that is, hold from those higher powers; and such are all inferior officers, whether in Church or State, who have no authority to act in any public business, but what they receive from the supreme magistrate.

2. The persons from whom these dues are to be paid. This is soon decided. The persons solvent, are all Christians in general, without any exception, but of the supreme magistrate himself, clergy as well as laity — all who are under authority. The apostle includes all in the word αὐτους, put them in mind, that is, all inferiors. Every soul must be subject to the higher powers. Having thus far explained the subject matter of the apostle's command,I proceed to the observations arising out of it.

1. Christian religion destroys not government or civil authority but ratifieth and confirmeth it.

2. The kingdom of Christ is not of this world, His authority divideth not civil inheritances, His sceptre swalloweth not up (as did Aaron's rod the others) the sceptre of worldly monarchs. His weapons are not carnal; the keys of His kingdom are no temporal jurisdiction.

3. One ordinance of God doth not abolish another. The laws of Christ in His Church bring not in lawlessness into the Commonwealth; nor is God the God of order in the first, and the Author of confusion in the latter. For one ordinance of God to destroy another would argue want of wisdom in God, the Ordainer. The very thought thereof is blasphemous. Nay, on the contrary, for the Church's sake (which He loveth) He keepeth order, and maintains government in commonwealths, that His Church, whilst it is agathering in the world, might find safe harbour therein; that this dove of Christ might have a place where to set without danger the sole of her foot.

(John Cleaver, M. A.)

1. The scope of the ministry is to put men in mind, and keep in them the remembrance of every Christian duty. Thus, ministers may be called the Lord's remembrancers, not only for putting the Lord in mind of His covenant towards His people, and of the people's wants, but also that they must not be silent, but restless in whetting the doctrine of God, legal and evangelical upon the people, and so be ever putting them in mind of their covenant and duty unto God. Paul acknowledged himself such a remembrancer (Romans 15:15).

2. None is so far instructed, but is wanting much in knowledge, and much more in the cheerful practice of that which he knoweth; and therefore every one hath need of quickening and stirring up.

3. None are so strong but they stand in need of this confirmation, as well as the former quickening, neither can any caution or any admonition be too much in things of such moment.

4. No man's memory is so sound, but as out of a leaking vessel good things are ever running out; and when such things are slipt away, they had need be renewed and recalled again.(1) Ministers must not desist from teaching and exhorting, as many that think a little enough; nor discouraged when people forget their wholesome doctrine; but encourage themselves in their duty, which is to keep in men's memories the mindfulness of their duties.(2) When they come to teach, they may not seek out vain and strange speculations, which were never heard of before, but teach plain things, yea, and deep mysteries in plain manner, as such who respect the weakness both of the apprehension and memory of their hearers.(3) An wholesome thing it is to teach the same things often, whereby things delivered are recalled into the memory. Curious men cannot abide repetitions, nor hear common things, notwithstanding these be excellent helps of memory, which is the cause of such gross and everywhere palpable ignorance in the most familiar principles of religion. But the wisdom of godly teachers will be not too much to yield unto the niceness of their hearers; nor to fear to do that which is the safest for them, as Paul speaketh; which if it be, let it be to us what it will or can, it will be our part that by our practice they may find the profit. We learn hence, also, what it is that should profess and take up the memories of Christians, namely, those lessons of Christianity which they hear in the ministry.For —

1. The commandment must be bound up upon our hearts, and we ought to make our memories the statute book of our souls, and by diligent meditation, chain this book unto ourselves (Proverbs 4:21).

2. Herein standeth the sanctity of the memory, partly by retaining the rules of life, and partly in presenting and offering them unto the mind upon occasion of practice, both to direct and urge the conscience to obedience. Thus David hid the Word in his heart, the blessed fruit of which was that he did not sin against God; and indeed holy memory preserveth the holiness of the whole man.

3. Forgetfulness of the Word is everywhere in the Scriptures taxed as a grievous and hateful sin: "Be not forgetful hearers, deceiving your own selves," saith James; "Have you forgotten how I fed so many thousand," etc., saith Christ to the disciples; and the author to the Hebrews, "Have ye forgotten the exhortation?"

(T. Taylor, D. D.)


II. SUBJECTION AND OBEDIENCE ENJOINED. Put them in mind to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work — intimating to us that we must show our obedience by our ready compliance in good works; for if the magistrate command what is evil, there is no obligation to perform it, because nothing can oblige us to do evil. But what if the thing commanded be neither good nor evil, but of an indifferent nature; what must we do in that case? Why then we must undoubtedly obey it; for otherwise there will be nothing left wherein the magistrate may use his power. What is good or evil in itself must be done or avoided for God's sake. What is not so in itself, but only in regard of the end for which it is enacted, being judged so by the magistrate for the good of the community, this must be observed, both for God's sake and his too, because God requires our obedience to Him in these things, But what then becomes of our liberty, if another must judge for us? It is where it was before; we must obey, and yet we are as free as Christ hath made us; nay, I doubt not to add, we are most Christ's freemen when we duly obey our governors' just laws; for seeing Christ hath commanded us to be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake, that so we may avoid the guilt of sin, that obedience which keeps us from sin (which is the only vassalage of a Christian) can by no means infringe, but does rather advance our Christian liberty.

III. THE DUTY OF PASTORS AND TEACHERS INCULCATED. Put them in mind, admonish them often of it, and bring it to their remembrance, as St. Peter does twice together in another case (2 Peter 1:12, 13).

1. Let us consider that obedience to magistrates is a prime duty of piety and religion, wherein the honour and authority of God are particularly concerned; not only because He requires it by manifold precepts, but because magistrates are His officers and ministers, by whom He governs the world and administers His providence towards men, and to whom He has given part of His own power for that purpose.

2. The exigence of our civil affairs, and the preservation of the public does exact this duty from us. For the execution of justice between man and man, the safe and quiet enjoyment of God's blessings, and the welfare and peace of the whole community, are extremely concerned and advanced by it.

3. Obedience to our governors is founded on the highest equity and reason; for day by day we receive invaluable benefits by the influence of their government and conduct; protection of our lives and estates, of our privileges, properties, and religion; secure possession of the gifts of God, and liberty to increase our substance by trade and traffic, and to eat the fruit of our labour, etc.

4. Obedience to our governors is a duty incumbent on us in point of ingenuity and gratitude. For in preserving the peace and prosperity of the nation, they do not only preserve ours, but for our advantage also they undergo many cares and troubles, great toil and labour, attending continually for this very thing (Romans 13:6).

5. No man can disobey his governors without breaking the most sacred laws of justice and honesty; without downright perjury towards God, and perfidiousness towards man.

(Henry Dove, D. D.)

I. In relation to CIVIL GOVERNMENT.

1. Man's social tendencies indicate it.

2. Man's social exigencies indicate it.

II. In relation to GENERAL SOCIETY.

1. Usefulness.

2. Charitableness.

3. Courteousness

III. In relation to our MORAL SELF. It is a duty which every man owes to himself, to remember all the wrong of his past life —

1. That he may be charitable towards others.

2. That he may be stimulated to efforts of self-improvement.

3. That he may adore the forbearance of God in His past dealings.

4. That he may devoutly appreciate the morally redemptive agency of Christ.

5. That he may realise the necessity of seeking the moral restoration of others.Lessons:

1. The possibility of the moral improvement of souls.

2. The obligation to the moral improvement of souls.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. LAW IS OF GOD. Therefore godly men are obedient to human laws, when not inconsistent with the dictates of conscience, as being ordinances of God.

II. AUTHORITY IS DERIVED FROM GOD. Therefore righteous lawgivers and just judges are to be esteemed as God's gifts to a nation.

III. OBEDIENCE TO LAW AN ESSENTIAL PREPARATION FOR GOOD WORKS. No amount of religious profession, and no degree of activity in the performance of Christian duties, can compensate for the neglect of social duties or disregard of the claims of citizenship.

(F. Wagstaff.)

1. Individual excellence is what makes national strength. St. Paul tells Titus that he must preach personal purity, obedience, and peace to all the citizens around him.

2. Charity to others is best promoted by an honest consideration of what we are ourselves. No man, who is conscientious, can fail to remember many a mean act he has during his life committed.

3. The apostle tells Titus that he will make the better citizen the oftener he recalls to mind how much he owes, and must forever owe, to sovereign grace, as a child of God and an heir of heaven. People nowadays are excessively diffident in attributing their successes or their virtues to their piety. Yet now and then the world will find it out for itself. "Havelock's men" in campaigns wrote their record by their prayers as well as by their prowess.

4. The apostle adds a lesson for Titus about his preaching, which every Christian, trying to instruct others, might lay well to heart; namely, that the best of all teaching in truth is the teaching of a true life. He tries to lead him away from mere formulas, and force him to deal with real things in a real way for greatest good. "After the first phase of Christian life," remarks Merle d'Aubigne, "in which a man thinks only of Christ, there usually ensues a second, when the Christian will not voluntarily worship with assemblies opposed to his personal convictions." That is a gentle way of saying that, after a new convert cools a little in piety, he takes a time of becoming denominational and belligerent. Perhaps the Apostle Paul imagined Titus was going to do that, and so told him he had better not. If there be any truth in the line, "The child is father of the man," it is manifest most plainly in religious life. The young believer perpetuates himself in the old. Maurice, son of William the Silent, at the age of seventeen, took for his device a fallen oak, with a young sapling springing from its root; to this he gave the motto, Tandem fit surculus arbor, "The sapling will by and by become a tree." It seems very trite to write all that out soberly; but really it is a thing most unfortunately forgotten.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

The rule of Rome, which then lay upon all those lands in which the gospel was being preached, was a rule which rested on the sword. Everywhere ancient nations had been subjugated, venerable thrones had been overturned, the freedom of commonwealths, jealous of their independence, had been ruthlessly suppressed; and, although it was the policy of Rome to leave the old forms of administration untouched wherever possible, it was of course as impossible to conceal from the conquered peoples the degrading tokens of their subjection, as it is for us to do so in our Indian Empire. Roman troops sentinelled the palaces where Roman proconsuls sat in the seats of dethroned kings; Roman judges administered the law; writs ran in the Roman tongue; oaths were sworn to the Roman Caesar; taxes were paid in Roman coin. The military power which imposed such subjection upon haughty and once mighty nations was at the best a heavy yoke. The imperial laws were on the whole just, but they were stern and could be mercilessly enforced. Nor were the imperial courts above the imputation of corruption. The imposts were very heavy. Provincial governors were usually rapacious. The provincial revenues were drained off to feed the monstrous dissipation of the capital. For the most part, therefore, the provinces groaned beneath a burden which the strongest of them was unable to shake off, but which was enough to goad the most passive into turbulence. It was into a society thus honeycombed with political disaffection, and ready at every point to burst into revolt, that Christianity entered with its new conceptions of human dignity and spiritual freedom. Its entrance could not fail to add to the ferment. It quickened in men's minds that sense of injustice which oppression breeds. It deepened their irritation at the insolence and wrong doing of the dominant race. It produced a longing for the happier era when the kingdom of God, which they had received into their hearts, should be also a kingdom of social equity and brotherhood. Hence it became an urgent duty with the leaders of the young society to warn their converts against political restlessness. Do as they might, the Christians could hardly hope, under a government like Nero's, to escape suspicion. They were pretty certain to be reckoned among the dangerous forces in a community which heaved with discontent. But to do anything to encourage such suspicion, or afford the authorities a pretext for repression, would have been foolish as well as wrong; for it would have compromised the gospel at its outset by mixing it up in matters with which the gospel has nothing directly to do. Indirectly, no doubt, the new faith was sure to affect in the long run political affairs, as it affects every province of human life. No community of brave men who are animated by the lessons of Christianity will always sit still, contented in a condition of vassalage. The gospel has proved herself the mother of freedom. The most resolute and successful resistance that has ever been offered to arbitrary power has been offered by men whom the truth had made free, and who carried their Bible beneath the same belt to which they buckled their sword. But personal and political liberty is a secondary effect of the gospel, after it has penetrated the structure of society and has had time to reform nations on its own lines. For the individual convert in the age of Paul to revolt against the emperor or to run away from his master, would have been to misrepresent his faith to his contemporaries. The question at what time or in what way a Christian state is justified in deposing its tyrant, in order to organise itself as a free commonwealth, is a question which, as it concerns the Christian community and not the individual merely, so it can only arise under a different condition of things altogether. What the gospel enjoins upon private citizens, so long as governments stand and a successful resistance by the people at large is out of the question, is — submission. They are to discern underlying all authority, so long as it is legitimate, a Divine ordinance, and to render such obedience as is due to the magistrate within his proper sphere, not merely through dread of consequences, but still more for the sake of a good conscience towards God.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

the schools should teach the children that their first duty and highest privilege is to become good citizens; and a good citizen, be he cobbler or manufacturer, tailor or senator, upholsterer or cabinet officer, will never condescend to become an incompetent or unworthy member of the community. Were all the boys and girls to leave school fully imbued with this knowledge, the country would be safe; the political firmament would be sustained upon shoulders firmer than those of Atlas, and its stars would shine with ever-increasing number and brilliancy. The third and highest form of spiritual power is moral and religious. Give me leave simply to state my belief that the only solid basis for an enduring nation is the Rock of Ages. Any other foundation is unstable and insecure as the sands of the seashore. Let the tower be built in obedience to God's laws, and it will reach unto heaven, the children of men will reunite in permanent harmony, science and religion will coincide, and the one universal speech will be of God's Word written on the sun, moon, and stars, on the solid earth itself, and in the gospel.

(Professor B. Pierce.)

It was held in the olden time, but is not now, that authority came from God to the king, and then descended, in the form of law, from the king to the people. We have turned that theory bottom side up, although there are texts of Scripture which run that way. Now we find no difficulty in this land, since we are republicans, in jumping those texts. "Honour the king," meant honour the king; but we say, "Yes, honour authority; and the king represents authority." So we bridge the difficulties without much trouble. When the people have committed their interests to the hands of individuals, they are justly jealous, because they have seen that human nature is fragile timber, like the slender supports of a bridge over which too much must not go, or it will break down under the pressure; properly, there is a wise watchfulness of those who are empowered to execute the law, and to represent, in the various spheres of magistracy, from the lowest to the highest, the will and interests of a great people; but the untaught and unbalanced way in which men exercise this proper watchfulness leads — somewhat in connection with the other things of which I have spoken — to what amounts to almost a universal suspicion. If there is one corrupt judge on the bench, ten judges suffer. If there is one bad senator, the whole senate suffers. If there are a score of purchaseable legislators, then the whole legislature suffers. There is no discrimination made in that matter. Our people have come to look upon those who are entrusted with power as being suspicious persons. The way men get that power rather tempts to this injustice. The rude and mischievous ways of partisans tend to inimical feeling in this same sphere. Men and brethren, do you ever reflect that he that hauls down a magistrate, except where there is absolute and assignable evidence of corruption; that he that deteriorates the authority of a judge; that he that takes from the responsibility and respectability of the representatives of the people, or of the members of the general government, or of governors; that he that makes an assault upon them which shall lower the respect and confidence of the community for them, is striking at the whole system of law and government? Worse than that, it is a blow aimed at the faith of whole classes of men in virtue, in patriotism, and in integrity. A class of men has grown up — and is growing up continually, with the spectacle before them, on every side, of rude and unjust criticisms and depreciations — who say that everybody is selfish, and that. nobody but illusionists suppose that there is any such thing as a disinterested service of one's country. I am ashamed to see so many young men growing up with the feeling that heroism of patriotism is unknown except as a poetic adornment, or a mere spangle on the dress of pretentious patriots.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The civic virtues planted and fostered by Christianity are a theme interesting and profitable for study. One of the credentials of its Divine origin is its usefulness for this world. Finding mankind individually and socially disordered, and full of painful suffering in consequence, it is an antiseptic, arresting deadly processes, a balm, full of gentle healing, and a tonic which strengthens every manly purpose, and enters integrally into all true life of the state. It first purifies and exalts, then it directs, though using only moral forces.

I. CHRISTIANS MUST BE LOYAL SUBJECTS TO GOVERNMENT, READY FOR EVERY GOOD WORK. They must be often reminded of the obedience due to principalities, powers, and magistrates. The essential excellence and authority of human law can best be understood and appreciated by those who know the worth and heed the claims of the Divine. They know that the fabric of society is in some true sense a Divine institution. But, you say, government is corrupt, and God cannot be the author of political corruption. Very true, but the whole idea and framework of government is not corrupt. There is a sum of truth underlying the simple fact of government which is entitled to respect. Abuses should be keenly recognised, but remedies should be sought for them not by angry assault or disgusted contempt or sullen neglect. In healing the body politic, the laws of life must be respected, and employed as patiently and intelligently as when the physical body is to be healed. The practical side of Christianity in such teaching is specially timely and important today. Monetary values, domestic peace and security, time-honoured institutions, received ideas and principles, are assailed by influences and methods before which the wise, the good, and the strong well may stand somewhat in dread, if not in awe. What shall save the fairest portions of earth from such refluent waves of barbarism? The gospel is the only complete remedy. Bayonets and grapeshot may quell a temporary demonstration; but the only effectual cure is in that respect for government which Paul learned of Jesus Christ, and which Christian experience alone can fully understand. Then faithful reconstruction is possible by methods constructive, not destructive, in a spirit reverent to the essential dignity and claims of government. The Christian is not unmindful of the ills of the world, nor is he careless about their remedy. He is a man of affairs. He neither ignores nor scorns nor idly dreams about the ravages of sin wherever manifest. He deliberately and boldly grapples with them, but he uses methods which respect the laws of life and healing, laws written in the nature of things and the will of God. He knows meekness is compatible with manliness. The meek man thrusts no one aside, frowns not upon the humblest, but lives in abiding consciousness of the wants, powers, and claims of others. When this is the spirit of the world, there will be no more riots, forcible levies, assassinations; and it is only by cultivating this and kindred virtue, in the spirit of the gospel, that the world's peace will be secured.

II. WHAT ARE THE MOTIVES AND CONSIDERATIONS UPON WHICH THE APOSTLE RESTS THESE URGENT INSTRUCTIONS? Not, as we might have expected, because such walk and conversation were useful and becoming, but he points (vers. 3-7) to the sad degradation of their own past lives, full of the opposites of all Christian virtues — foolishness, disobedience, lustful pleasures, malice, envy, and hatreds. From these they have just escaped; they must pity the moral ruin which stains and disables those yet blinded. He adduces a yet stronger consideration — their difference is all a pure gift, through "the kindness and love of God our Saviour." Out of such experience, all the more because it is exalted and refined, Paul admonishes to the most practical and assiduous performance of Christian duty under the general name of "good works." In these instructions to Titus, Paul was in full sympathy with the gospel in our Lord's time, in all time. Let us note the practical workings of Christianity for the individual and the state.

1. Christianity is the only source and safeguard of lasting patriotism. Patriotism is more than aroused sensibility, or quickened emotions, however worthy. There must be loyalty to principles, and those principles take root in the teachings of Him who valued humanity not by its degradation, but by its possibilities, who revealed the law of self-sacrifice, and who enforced all his precepts by a corresponding life of voluntary humiliation and unfailing service.

2. Organised and efficient philanthropy is unknown apart from Christianity. Man is not by nature wholly regardless of the sufferings and wants of his fellow men; but sinful practices soon blunt and disable humane promptings.

3. Christianity promotes harmony, and the best conditions of growth in society and the state. Intelligence is also an incident to the prevalence of the gospel; and before it, the dark vagaries of demagogues and fanatics appear in their repulsive deformity. Patience and forbearance with those who oppose themselves are essential conditions of prosperous life in all circles from the neighbourhood to the republic. These virtues are permanently active only when inspired by Christian benevolence. "Charity suffereth long and is kind." In short, Christian doctrines and institutions are the foundation of all public utilities and perpetuity.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Ready to every good work

1. This doctrine first teacheth us to learn the rule of every good work, legal or evangelical. Content not thyself that thou canst say the commandments, nor if thou canst say that thou hast kept the whole letter of the law from thy youth; but study the whole Scripture, which is an exposition and large commentary of those ten words; hear it, read it diligently, meditate upon it, apply it to thy heart and life, else knowest thou not how to begin any good work.

2. If every good work belong to every Christian then may not men post over the matter to the minister. The common conceit is, that the clergy should be holy, hospitable, and so qualified as we have heard in the first chapter; but for common men and unlearned it will be acceptable enough if they be almost Christians, that is, as good as never a whir; whereas the Lord bindeth upon every Christian, of what condition soever, the practice of every good work which is offered him within the compass of his calling.

3. If a Christian must employ himself in every good work, then must men so cast and contrive their courses, and neither duties of piety hinder the duties of their calling, nor these stand in the way of the other. And he that hath the heart of the wise to know time and judgment, forecasteth both wisely, and knoweth one of these to be subordinate, but not opposite unto the other. Hence must Christians forecast, and remember the Sabbath beforehand, and so order and husband their times and seasons, that there may be place and time and opportunity for every good work in the weekday, and especially for the best works, whether public exercises of religion or private prayers and exercises in the family.


1. In duties of piety, we are enjoined not only to come to the house of God, but to take heed to our feet, and to wash our hands in innocency before we compass the altar, and first to sanctify ourselves before God and reconcile ourselves to men, and then bring our gift. If we preach, we must do it readily, and of a ready mind, and then we have reward. If you hear, you must be wise to hear, and ready to hear, rather than to offer a sacrifice of fools.

2. In performance of duties of love and mercy unto men, we are called to readiness in distributing (1 Timothy 6:18), and mindfulness to distribute (Hebrews 13:16).

3. In private duties, when God giveth us peace and opportunity, we must serve Him with cheerfulness and good hearts (Deuteronomy 28:47).

4. In private injuries, we must be ready to receive, yea, to offer reconciliation, and to forgive, which is another good work, and so in the rest. Reasons —

1. We herein become like unto God, whose nature is to accommodate Himself to our good; whose readiness to give bountifully and forgive freely is hereby shadowed.

2. Hereby we also beautify, and as it were gild our duties, when they come off without delays, without grudging, murmuring, or heaviness, but am from men inured to well-doing.

3. Hereby we may lay hold of Christian consolation, in that this ready and willing mind is accepted, where often power of doing good is wanting, and indeed the regenerate often want power and ability unto good, but to want will and desire is dangerous.


1. Get into thy soul the conscience of this commandment, accounting it worthy of all thine obedience, being so often urged in the Scriptures, and made in the end of the former chapter, the end of Christ's purchasing of us. This reason drawn from the fear of God prevailed so far with Job, that thence he was moved to use mercifulness to all sorts of men; for God's "punishment was fearful unto me, and I could not escape His highness."

2. Take every opportunity of well-doing while it is offered, for else the opportunity may be cut off from thee, or thou from it. This is the apostle's rule, "While we have time do good unto all" (Galatians 6:10), that is, take the present occasion of doing all the good thou canst.(1) In regard of thyself, perform the principal and main duty, know the day of thy visitation; slack not this thy term time, but get the oil of faith, knowledge of God, and obedience to His Word, that thy lamp may ever be shining to the glorifying of the Father which is in heaven; in one word, forget not while thou hast time to give all diligence to make thine election sure.(2) In regard of others, if now thou canst do them good in soul or body, delay it not. "Say not unto thy neighbour, go, and come again tomorrow, and I will give thee, if now thou hast it" (Proverbs 3:28); and what knoweth any man, whether this may be the last day wherein he can do good to himself or others?

3. Go yet one step further, to seek and watch occasions of doing good, and be glad when thou hast obtained them, that so thou mayest ever be furthering thy reckoning. We read of the patriarchs, Abraham and Lot, how they sat at their doors watching to entertain strangers, that they espied them afar off, ran out to meet them, and most earnestly entreated them to abide and refresh themselves; show thyself herein the son of Abraham.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THE COURSE SPECIFIED. "Every good work." Every department of religion may be so denominated, repentance, faith, restitution, obedience, prayer, praise.

1. There is the work of mercy to the bodies of our fellow men. Our fires will burn brighter, our clothes be warmer, our food sweeter, our slumbers more refreshing, if we tread in the steps of the blessed Jesus, who went about doing good.

2. There is the good work of compassion to the souls of our fellow men. How many are ignorant and out of the way. What can we do to win souls to Christ?

3. There is the good work of affection and kindness to the household of faith.


1. The qualification, "Be ready."(1) That we have the disposition. Naturally, we have not the disposition. But the grace of God always imparts it. If the heart be good, then we shall have dispositions of goodness.(2) That we do good cheerfully. That it is not our burden. Not a sacrifice. Not a painful, but easy yoke.(3) It is to do good promptly. "To be ready." To be at the call. Everything nearly depends upon being in season.(4) Includes perseverance. Never to wish to cease, till the Saviour says it is enough.

2. The extent of the direction. "Be ready to every good work." As you have ability and opportunity.

3. The motives which should influence us.(1) Our religion is emphatically one of goodness. It allows of nothing malignant, or malevolent, even to enemies.(2) Our spiritual improvement is connected with it. It is by acting that we are conformed to Christ.(3) Our happiness is inseparably connected with it. It is heaven on earth. The joy of angels, felt and realised by man.(4) Our future amount of glory is connected with it. We are to be judged by our work, not by our faith, gifts, etc.Application —

1. Urge on the unregenerate the work of repentance.

2. Urge believers to be ready, etc.

(J. Burns, D. D.)


1. Good works to the bodies of others.

2. Good works to the souls of others.

3. Good works to the Christian Church.


1. Cheerfulness.

2. Promptitude.

3. Perseverance.

4. Catholicity.


1. The genius of our religion.

2. The example of Christ.

3. Personal improvement.

4. Future reward of grace.

(G. Brooks.)

I. WHAT THIS ADVICE IMPLIES. To "be ready" is to be prepared, by laying a proper foundation in ourselves for doing good works. And this must be by the attainment of Divine knowledge and grace.

1. Knowledge is first necessary. Ignorance unfits and hinders many from doing good works. They know not the nature of good works, their necessity, that without them "faith is dead," their utility, amiable character, the will of God on this subject, nor how they may perform their duty in this respect.

2. By the attainment of grace (2 Corinthians 9:8), pardoning grace; a consciousness of guilt burdening and discouraging the mind, and hindering good works; renewing grace; only a good tree bringeth forth good fruit; strengthening grace; enabling us to break, or shake off, the fetters of sin, which incapacitate us to do the will of God.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING THUS READY. The glory of God is herein greatly concerned (Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; Philippians 1:11). God is glorified by our holy tempers and heavenly affections, but especially by our substantial, good, and useful works. Great credit and honour is thus brought to the gospel. "These things are profitable to men," by lessening their miseries, or preventing or enabling them to obtain happiness. Our own good is involved herein. It is an evidence of our sincerity, and of the genuineness of our religion, to ourselves and others; an evidence of our repentance, faith, hope, love, our justification, regeneration, and growth in grace. Our own peace of mind, as well as our religious character, is involved in this point. It is the means of exercising our grace and gifts, and thereby retaining them (Matthew 13:12; John 15:2).

III. THE MEANS TO BE USED IN ORDER THAT THIS ADVICE MAY BE COMPLIED WITH. The Word of God is the chief means of knowledge and of grace, whereby we may have the preparation, inclination, and ability mentioned above for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). This must be heard, read, searched, and diligently studied. It must also be received in faith and love, be obeyed in an humble and submissive spirit, through the influence and succour of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 9:8). This Spirit must be sought in sincere, fervent, and importunate prayer, without which we shall not possess either the right disposition, or sufficient ability to do good works. Christian fellowship is a further means. We must "exhort one another" daily (Hebrews 10:25), and take example from such as appear, or have appeared, eminent in usefulness.

(J. Benson.)

To speak evil of no man

1. It is not only a mean and shameful, but a pernicious fault; it produces much harm in society, and is a cause why many live hateful and hating one another, and die in the same unfriendly disposition.

2. It is a common and widespread fault, and few, very few, are entirely free from it. It is not confined to wicked and profane persons; it is to be found in some measure even in those who have their virtues, their good and useful, and amiable qualities and accomplishments, who live soberly and honestly, who love their friends and are active to serve and oblige them, who are not uncharitable to the poor, who have a sense of religion, and worship God both in public and in private.

3. They who are addicted to it, either seldom reflect upon its odious nature, or are not sensible when and how often they thus offend, or have several plausible though vain excuses to justify themselves.

II. EVIL SPEAKING CONSISTS IN SPREADING REPORTS TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR; and of this fault there are three distinct kinds or degrees.

1. The worst kind of it is to spread lies of our own invention concerning others.

2. The next is to report things to their disadvantage, of the truth of which we are not sufficiently assured.

3. The lowest degree is to say of them that evil which we know to be true.

III. There is no occasion to prove and expose the folly and dishonesty of the two former kinds. It would be losing time and words. I shall, therefore, chiefly discourse of the latter, and SHOW HOW BLAMABLE EVEN THIS IS FOR THE MOST PART.

1. We should not be too forward to publish the faults of others, because it is no sufficient excuse for us, that what we say is true, and that they against whom we speak deserve such usage.

2. Another argument against censoriousness is contained in this plain precept of the gospel — "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye so unto them."

3. We should not accustom ourselves to discourse about the faults of our neighbour, because it may betray us by degrees into a worse kind of evil speaking.

4. We should not be forward to expose the faults of others, because by so doing we may bring upon them a punishment too heavy for the offence.

5. We should be cautious how we censure others, because we may misrepresent them, and yet say nothing of them that is not true.

6. To disclose the faults and indiscretions of others is often very pernicious to society, raises infinite variances amongst men, and tends to destroy the slender remains of love and charity which subsist in the Christian world.

7. Since for the most part we cannot discern the exact nature and degree of other men's faults, we may easily think too hardly and judge too severely of them. Their faults, when we know not the circumstances attending them, are like objects seen by us at a great distance, or at twilight: we see them neither in shape, nor in size or colour, such as they really are.

8. That we may restrain ourselves from talking of the faults of others, we should also consider that such discourse is produced by bad causes, and proceeds from a corrupted heart; and that all good and wise persons who hear us will judge of us accordingly. Speech is the child of thought; and a child it is which greatly resembles its parent. When the discourse is censorious and malicious, the mind which conceives it is no better.

9. Besides, this is an offence which seldom escapes correction. If human laws cannot chastise it, except in some few cases, the persons who are ridiculed or censured will fully supply that defect. 10. Lastly, we should be cautious not to give way to this inclination, because if we be once accustomed to it there is no probability that we shall ever leave it off. Of all bad habits, those of the tongue are, perhaps, the hardest to be cured. The reason is this: We deceive ourselves in thinking that words can do little or no hurt, and that the guilt of them is inconsiderably small, and consequently we speak at random what comes uppermost.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE OF THIS VICE. It consists in saying things of others which tend to their disparagement and reproach, to the taking away or lessening of their reputation and good name; and this whether the things said be true or not. If they be false, and we know it, then it is downright calumny; and if we do not know it, but take it upon the report of others, it is, however, a slander; and so much the more injurious because really ground less and undeserved. If the thing be true, and we know it to be so, yet it is a defamation, and tends to the prejudice of our neighbour's reputation; and it is a fault to say the evil of others which is true, unless there be some good reason for it; besides, it is contrary to that charity and goodness which Christianity requires, to divulge the faults of others, though they be really guilty of them, without necessity or some other very good reason for it. Again, it is evil speaking, and the vice condemned in the text, whether we be the first authors of an ill-report or relate it from others; because the man that is evil spoken of is equally defamed either way. Again, whether we speak evil of a man to his face, or behind his back: the former way indeed seems to be the more generous, but yet is a great fault, and that which we call reviling: the latter is more mean and base, and that which we properly call slander, or backbiting. And lastly, whether it be done directly and in express terms, or more obscurely and by way of oblique insinuation; whether by way of downright reproach, or with some crafty preface of condemnation; for so it have the effect to defame, the manner of address does not much alter the case: the one may be more dexterous, but is not one jot less faulty.

II. THE EXTENT OF THIS PROHIBITION. In what cases, by the general rules of Scripture and right reason, are we warranted to say the evil of others that is true?

1. It is not only lawful, but very commendable, and often our duty, to do this in order to the probable amendment of the person of whom evil is spoken. But then we must take care that this be done out of kindness, and that nothing of our own passion be mingled with it; and that under pretence of reproving and reforming men we do not reproach and revile them, and tell them of their faults in such a manner as if we did it to show our authority rather than our charity.

2. This likewise is not only lawful, but our duty, when we are legally called to bear witness concerning the fault and crime of another.

3. It is lawful to publish the faults of others in our own necessary defence and vindication.

4. This also is lawful for caution and warning to a third person that is in danger to be infected by the company, or ill example of another; or may be greatly prejudiced by reposing too much confidence in him, having no knowledge or suspicion of his bad qualities: but even in this case we ought to take great care that the in character we give of any man be spread no farther than is necessary to the good end we designed in it.

III. THE EVIL OF THIS PRACTICE, both in the causes and the consequences of it.

1. We will consider the causes of it. And it commonly springs from one or more of these evil roots.(1) One of the deepest and most common causes of evil speaking is ill nature and cruelty of disposition: and by a general mistake ill nature passeth for wit, as cunning doth for wisdom; though in truth they are nothing akin to one another, but as far distant as vice and virtue. And there is no greater evidence of the bad temper of mankind than the general proneness of men to this vice.(2) Another cause of the commonness of this vice is, that many are so bad themselves in one kind or other. For to think and speak ill of others is not only a bad thing, but a sign of a bad man.(3) Another source of this vice is malice and revenge. When men are in heat and passion they do not consider what is true, but what is spiteful and mischievous, and speak evil of others in revenge of some injury which they have received from them; and when they are blinded by their passions, they lay about them madly and at a venture, not much caring whether the evil they speak be true or not.(4) Another cause of evil speaking is envy. Men look with an evil eye upon the good that is in others, and think that their reputation obscures them, and that their commendable qualities do stand in their light; and therefore they do what they can to cast a cloud over them, that the bright shining of their virtues may not scorch them.(5) Another cause of evil speaking is impertinence and curiosity; an itch of talking and meddling in the affairs of other men, or any bad thing that is talked of in good company.(6) Men often do this out of wantonness and for diversion. But what can be more barbarous, next to sporting with a man's life, than to play with his honour and reputation?

2. The ordinary, but very pernicious consequences and effects of it, both to others and to ourselves.(1) To others; the parties I mean that are slandered. To them it is certainly a great injury, and commonly a high provocation, but always matter of no small grief and trouble to them.(2) The consequences of this vice are as bad or worse to ourselves. Whoever is wont to speak evil of others gives a bad character of himself, even to those whom he desires to please, who, if they be wise enough, will conclude that he speaks of them to others, as he does of others to them. But there is an infinitely greater danger hanging over us from God. If we allow ourselves in this evil practice, all our religion is good for nothing.


1. That the use of speech is a peculiar prerogative of man above other creatures, and bestowed upon him for some excellent end and purpose; that by this faculty we might communicate our thoughts more easily to one another, and consult together for our mutual comfort and benefit, not to enable us to be hurtful and injurious, but helpful and beneficial to one another.

2. Consider how cheap a kindness it is to speak well, at least not to speak ill of anybody. A good word is an easy obligation, but not to speak ill requites only our silence, which costs us nothing.

3. Consider that no quality doth ordinarily recommend one more to the favour and goodwill of men, than to be free from this vice.

4. Let every man lay his hand upon his heart, and consider how himself is apt to be affected with this usage.

5. When you are going to speak reproachfully of others, consider whether you do not lie open to just reproach in the same, or some other kind. Therefore give no occasion, no example of this barbarous usage of one another.

6. Consider that it is in many cases as great a charity to conceal the evil you hear and know of others, as if you relieved them in a great necessity. And we think him a hard-hearted man that will not bestow a small alms upon one in great want.


1. Never say any evil of any man, but what you certainly know.

2. Before you speak evil of any man consider whether he hath not obliged you by some real kindness, and then it is a bad return to speak ill of him who hath done us good.

3. Let us accustom ourselves to pity the faults of men, and to be truly sorry for them, and then we shall take no pleasure in publishing them.

4. Whenever we hear any man evil spoken of, if we know any good of him let us say that.

5. That you may speak evil of any, do not delight to hear ill of them.

6. Let every man mind himself, and his own duty and concernment. Do but endeavour in good earnest to mend thyself, and it will be work enough for one man, and leave thee but little time to talk of others.

7. Lastly, let us set a watch before the door of our lips, and not speak but upon consideration; I do not mean to speak finely, but fitly. Especially when thou speakest of others, consider of whom and what thou art going to speak: use great caution and circumspection in this matter: look well about thee; on every side of the thing, and on every person in the company, before thy words slip from thee, which when they are once out of thy lips are forever out of thy power.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

I. Consider THAT RASH AND INCONSIDERATE CENSURES ARE INCONSISTENT WITH THE JUSTICE WHICH YOU OWE TO YOUR BRETHREN. The Author of our nature hath wisely ordained that approbation should follow virtue as its natural reward. This the virtuous are allowed to propose to themselves as an inferior motive of conduct; and this they expect as what belongs to them of right. The esteem which a man hath merited by his integrity and usefulness may be considered as a property of which he cannot innocently be deprived; and the extent of the injury done by detraction, is proportioned to the value of the possession which it invades. Now, what interest is dearer to the ingenuous than the preservation of their good name? You detest the villain who robs the industrious of their well-earned store; you abhor the oppressor who plunders the innocent and the deserving of the means of their support; yet how light and trivial are such injuries as these in comparison of the rum of their virtuous name, which, even in the midst of poverty, would ensure them respect. Would men weigh duly the mischiefs which detraction occasions, that pernicious humour would be less frequently indulged; for it is not always from malice and cruelty of nature that detraction proceeds: it arises, often, from an inconsiderate gaiety of mind, and means not to ruin the character which it delights to expose. The effects of such conduct are not, perhaps, obvious, because they are not immediate; but they are not, on this account, the less certain, or the less direful. With a man's reputation his usefulness and success are closely connected; and one unguarded expression may involve a deserving family in want and wretchedness. The only compensation which you can possibly make is to vindicate the violated character at the expense of your own; and this is an atonement most humiliating to yourselves, yet to the unhappy sufferer often of little avail; for many listen with avidity to the tale of slander, who will lend to your exculpation an indifferent ear; nor will your influence be sufficient to repair the reputation which your levity or your baseness hath ruined.

II. THAT A CENSORIOUS TURN OF MIND IS DESTRUCTIVE ALSO OF YOUR OWN FELICITY. The man who is addicted to this odious vice, acquires, by degrees, an unhappy acuteness in marking the imperfections of his brethren. To him, therefore, the society of men can have no charms; for he beholds in every human being an object of dislike. Is not that man's mind ill-formed for happiness, who, amidst the various appearances which nature exhibits, dwells always on such as are dismal and destructive; who observes only the inhospitable desert, the blasting lightning, and the wintry storm; but marks not the beauties which adorn the spring, the riches which descend in the shower, or the stores with which autumn gladdens the earth? Nor does his happiness suffer merely from the effect of detraction on his own disposition. His conduct renders him an object of general aversion. Even his gay companions, whom his destructive pleasantry may entertain for a season, despise and dread the promoter of their mirth. They know that the edge of his satire will soon be turned against themselves; and that their own characters are destined to bleed by the very same weapons by which others have been assailed. Those who have suffered by his calumny, are entitled to vindicate, at his expense, their injured reputation; and every friend of innocence will aid them in the attempt. Merely to refute his slander, implies a reproach to which no prudent man would choose to expose himself. But how rarely doth human resentment confine itself within such moderate bounds. The rage of the injured will probably prompt them to retaliate. The security of others will seemed to be concerned in the cause. It will not appear sufficient that the aspersion be removed. The character of the detractor is devoted to ruin. In the snare which he hath laid for others, his own feet are entangled, and he falls by the sword which he hath whetted against his brethren.

(W. Moodie, D. D.)Evil speaking: —


(1)either the uttering of false and evil things, or

(2)of true things falsely and evilly.

1. The former.(1) When men speak upon no ground, as when men, present or absent, are accused of the evils which they never did (2 Samuel 16:3).(2) When men speak some evil of others upon weak and insufficient grounds, as when any either publicly or privately chargeth some other man before his face or behind his back with evil upon suspicions (2 Samuel 10:3).(3) When men cast railing, cursing, or reviling speeches upon another, present or absent, openly or secretly, and covertly by insinuation (2 Samuel 15:3)

2. The latter kind of evil speaking is in true things, as —(1) When a man speaketh of something done or spoken, but destroyeth the sense (Matthew 26:61; John 2:19).(2) In uttering nothing but truth, but with wicked insinuations and collections of evil (1 Samuel 22:9, 10).(3) In speaking of good things, but either lessening them or depraving them, as Gone of bad intent for bad ends in hypocrisy.(4) In speaking of things evil and not so well done.(a) By uncovering infirmities, which is the guise of cursed Chains, who are ever revealing to their brethren other men's nakedness, which an ingenious disposition, yea, humanity itself (if there were no religion), would cover and hide (Proverbs 11:13).(b) Whereas we can excuse our own faults twenty ways, by amplifying the faults and offences of others, be they never so apparent, we become evil speakers in a high degree, as sycophants who make the scapes of men far greater than they are, affirming often that to be done of deliberation which was done rashly and in hot blood, or presumptuously when it was perhaps done but weakly, and imputing that to want of conscience which perhaps was want Of heedfulness and foresight; and thus the sin is heightened when men so wickedly speak of that which they ought altogether to be silent in and not to speak at all.

II. Now, because of all sins, there is not a more manifest and general mischief in all the life of man, WHEREIN EVEN CHRISTIANS THEMSELVES ARE NOT EXEMPTED, who carry a very world of wickedness about with them, and yet wipe their mouths as though all were well with them; therefore will it not be amiss to take a little pains with this sin, scarce so accounted of, and to show —

1. How unseemly it is for a Christian.

2. How dangerous in itself.

3. The means to repress and avoid it.

1. For the first —(1) To utter slander, saith Solomon, is a note of a fool; and the slander itself is a fool's bolt, which is soon shot. And the apostle in so many places affirming it to be the practice of the old man, which must be cast off, maketh it hence an unbeseeming thing for Christians that profess new life to walk in such heathenish courses.(2) This cursed speaking, whereby our brethren are hurt in their names, is the devil's language, who thence hath his name, and argueth a venomous and hateful disposition not becoming the children of God:(3) True religion will not stand with such a tattling course as many Christians take up, who, like the Athenians, delight in nothing more than hearing and telling news; and once getting a tale by the end, they are in travail till they have delivered it to others, and with these all opportunity of good and edifiable speech perisheth.(4) Were it not most disgraceful for a Christian to be counted a thief, or a continual robber in the highway, or a continual breaker of the peace? and yet this sin is a greater breach of love than theft or spoiling of the goods, for a good name is more precious then gold, more sweet than the sweetest ointment.

2. The second point is the danger of this sin, which cannot but attend it, unless we conceive no danger in breaking such express commandments as we have (Leviticus 19:16; James 4:11). The defence of many a man is, I speak nothing but the truth, and so long I may speak it. But if that thou speakest be a tale true or false (as it is if without a calling thou playest the pedlar, and settest to sale the name of thy brother), these commandments cast and condemn thee. Others think it is a fault indeed, but not so great a fault to speak the thing we know by another; but look upon it, not as it may seem in thine eye, but in the penalty the Scripture hath set upon it; (Psalm 15:3) it hindereth the entrance into the holy mountain of God, and (1 Corinthians 6:10) railers and revilers shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; and therefore it is no such small matter as many take it for. Others reply, What are words but wind? and God is not so straitlaced; if a man should go to hell for every word, who shall come to heaven? This, indeed, is an ancient natural conceit that outward profession and ceremony will carry a man to heaven, although in the particulars of the life the power of godliness be never expressed. But mark how the Lord answereth such vain conceits (Psalm 50:19, 20). God hath His time then to call upon old reckonings, and then thou shalt not think words wind, but know to thy cost that life and death was in the power of thy tongue. Others yet see no such danger, or, if any be, it is far off. But this sin, beside the just hire of it hereafter, carrieth a secret plague with it for the present, for look, as thou dealest with another man's name, so shall thine be dealt with, and with what measure thou metest to others shall men measure to thee again.

3. The third thing to be considered is the means to avoid this sin of evil speaking, which may be reduced to five rules.(1) Look to thine heart, for if it, being the fountain, be corrupted, the issues and streams cannot but be bitter; and if thou giveth thyself leave to think evil of any man, as accounting the thought free, thou canst not but one time or other utter it. Purge well thine heart, therefore —(a) Of pride, which maketh a man speak disdainfully of those who want the things which themselves seem to have, and liberally take up any language if he can make the detraction of another a ladder for himself to climb upon.(b) Of envy, which, grieving at the graces and good things in another, seeketh to darken them, as Satan, envying Job's prosperity, said, "He serveth not God for nought."(c) Of flattery, which for favour or reward will tune the tongue to any ear.(2) Be careful to contain thyself within thine own calling; follow thine own plough; beware of the sin of busybodies, who love to play the bishops in other men's dioceses, who, if they had not with the witch in the fable, put off their own eyes at home, they might find foul corners enough well worthy of reformation in themselves; but therefore load they others, because they spare themselves; they throw no stones at their own faults first, and therefore they are at good leisure to pry into other men's, and so become the devil's gunpowder for want of better employment.(3) Beware in all thy speeches with men of strife of words, for from hence evil speeches arise, and many words want not iniquity.(4) In all companies pray to the Lord to set a watch before thy mouth, and to keep the door of thy lips, for the tongue can no man of himself tame, being such an unruly evil.(5) Beware of consenting to this sin in another, for as thou art bound not to relate, so not to receive, any evil speeches of thy brother. Solomon counselleth not to meddle with the slanderer and flatterer; wise chapmen must beware of such base pedlars.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)


1. We should never in severe terms inveigh against any man without reasonable warrant, or presuming on a good call and commission for the purpose.

2. We should never speak so of any man without apparent just cause: we must not reproach men for things innocent or indifferent, for not complying with our humour or interests.

3. We should not cast reproach on any man without some necessary reason: in that charity which covereth a multitude of sins, we are bound to extenuate and excuse the faults of our brethren, so far as truth and equity permit.

4. We should never speak ill of our neighbour beyond measure, be the cause never so just, the occasion never so necessary.

5. We should never speak ill of any man out of bad principles or for bad ends; from no sudden anger, inveterate hatred, revengeful disposition, contempt, or envy; to compass any design of our own, to cherish any malignity or ill-humour; neither out of wantonness nor out of negligence and inadvertency; in fine from no other principle but that of charity, and to no other intent but what is charitable.


1. Let us consider that nothing more than railing and reviling is opposite to the nature, and inconsistent with the tenor of our religion.

2. It is therefore often expressly condemned and prohibited as evil.

3. Against no practice are severer punishments denounced. St. Paul adjudges the railer to be banished from good society (1 Corinthians 5:11), and from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10).

4. Such language is in its nature the symptom of a weak and distempered mind: a stream that cannot issue from a sweet spring.

5. This practice plainly signifies low spirit, ill-breeding, and bad manners, and is thence unbecoming to any wise, honest, or honourable person: all such have an aversion to it, and cannot entertain it with complacency.

6. He that uses this kind of speech, as he harms and troubles others, so does he create thereby great inconveniences and mischiefs to himself.

7. Hence with evidently good reason is he that uses such language called a fool; and he that abstaineth from it is commended as wise (Proverbs 18:6, 7).

8. Lastly, we may consider that it is a grievous perversion of the design of speech, which so much distinguishes us above other creatures, to use it in defaming and disquieting our neighbour: far better were it that we could say nothing than that we should speak ill.

(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)

Philip Henry used to remind those who spoke evil of people behind their backs of that law, "Thou shalt not curse the deaf." Those that are absent are deaf; they cannot right themselves; therefore say no ill of them. A friend of his, inquiring of him concerning a matter which tended to reflect upon some people, he began to give him an account of the story, but immediately broke off, and checked himself with these words, "But our rule is to speak evil of no man," and would proceed no further in the story. The week before he died a person requested the loan of a particular book from him. "Truly," said he, "I would lend it to you, but that it takes in the faults of some which should rather be covered with a mantle of love."

(W. Baxendale.)

Remember, this contradicts your nature and your destiny; to speak ill of others makes you a monster in God's world. Get the habit of slander, and then there is not a stream which bubbles fresh from the heart of nature — there is not a tree that silently brings forth its genial fruit in its appointed seasons, which does not rebuke and proclaim you a monstrous anomaly in God's world.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

When will talkers refrain from evil speaking? When listeners refrain from evil hearing? At present there are many so credulous of evil, they will receive suspicions and impressions against persons whom they don't know, from a person whom they do know — an authority to be good for nothing.

(A. W. Hare, M. A.)

No brawlers

1. Every man is bound to contend in his place for the truth — for religion, truth, and sound doctrine against falsehood, error, heresy, and superstition.

2. The ruler and people may by lawful war repel openly either idolatry or injury from Church or commonwealth, for if it had been altogether unlawful, John Baptist would have advised the soldiers rather to have given over their calling and taken no wages at all than to have been content with their wages.

3. Private men may seek the face of the ruler to prevent or redress an injury, and thus contend in judgment, which is no sin unless it be for trifles or of revenge: so Paul appealed to Caesar, and helped himself by the benefit of law.

4. It is lawful for every Christian, in defect of the magistrates' aid, in the lawful defence of themselves, lives, and goods, to become magistrates unto themselves, in which case they may without sin both strike and slay, so as desire of revenge and intent of bloodshedding be absent.

5. Neither is domestical discipline excluded by this precept, whereby fathers and masters may, if the fault require, put on severity in their just corrections of their servants and children.

II. But the sin here condemned is when men suffer their lusts so far to sway, as they not only follow the things which make to Christian peace, BUT ARE ENEMIES UNTO CONCORD AND BROTHERLY LOVE — men of such violent affections as are ready, not only to return injury with injury, but with seventy-fold revenge; right Lamechs and rough Ismaels, whose hand is against every man; men of a word and a blow, fitter for the camp than the congregation of Christian men. Now, what an hateful thing is it that a Christian should be indited at the Lord's bar for a common barrator and quarreller? How unlike should he be to God, who is a God of peace, and loveth peace and the sons of peace? How far from having any part in the merit of Christ, who hath dearly by His precious blood bought the reconcilement of all things? How unanswerable were it unto this profession of Christianity, which cannot become a kingdom divided against itself? How prejudicial to Christian duties, both interrupting prayers and withstanding the acceptation of them, when the gift is brought without a reconcilable mind? How doth this course in Cain's way violate all bonds both of nature and grace? signing a man to be out of the commission, out of the natural fraternity in the first Adam, and much more out of the spiritual in the second, yea, arguing such fierce men to be rather of the serpents' and crocodiles' seed, between which and man God hath put an enmity, than of men, seeing they have put off all respect of creation, of adoption, of flesh, and of faith.


1. Bridle the tongue, for this is an immediate follower of evil speaking, and it runneth from the tongue into the hand.

2. Let the consideration of our common brotherhood be a means to cut off contention (Genesis 13:8).

3. Consider what a scandal it is to profane scorners of religion that such as profess themselves scholars of Christ should live together like dogs and cats (as we say), and by ungodly quarrels and heartburns be still building up the works of the devil which Christ hath destroyed; why should such a thing be heard in Gath and Askelon? why should Priamus and his son laugh us to scorn?

4. Get a low conceit of thyself and be small in thine own eyes, for whence riseth contention and strife but from the lust in the members, namely, the inordinate bearing of a man's self above that which is meet? Only by pride (saith Solomon) man maketh contention, and, indeed, experience showeth that the most suits at this day are not so much for right and equity as for victory.

5. Because some in their own temper are of more mild and quiet spirits, and rather lie open to this sin by others' instigation than their own propensity and disposition. That rule of Solomon is worth noting, to take heed of parttaking, of meddling, and mingling oneself in other men's strifes and contentions, for this were to take a dog by the ears or a bear by the tooth.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

We are called to the practice of that property of wisdom which is from above, which is peaceable and gentle, and to buckle unto us, as the elect of God, tender mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another. The benefit will be exceeding great. For —

1. This wisdom teacheth us to be soft in our speeches, as they that know how a soft answer breaketh wrath, a rare example whereof we have in Judges 8:2.

2. It teacheth us softness in our whole conversation and exercise of our personal and general callings. It suffereth not the magistrate to be so stern that an inferior should come to him as a man that were to bring a bottle to an elephant, which he is afraid of, which timidity Augustus reproved in a petitioner. It suffereth not the minister to be lordly in his doctrine or discipline, but compassionate and tender in both. It suffereth not the father or master to be a lion in his house, but causeth them to govern sweetly and to dispense severity, and weigh out correction as physic to the children and servants.

3. It teacheth even the superior to yield some part of his right to his inferior, as Abraham to Lot, "If thou take the right hand, I will turn to the left," nay, as Christ Himself being God and Lord of all, yet for peace' sake, and to avoid offence, did pay tribute unto Caesar.

4. Further, how necessary a virtue this is cannot but appear to him that considereth how frail our flesh and blood is, how full of infirmities, how lying open to offences, how needful of much forgiveness at God's hand and man's; and yet no forgiveness at God's hand, but on condition of our forgiveness of men, for so is the petition in the Lord's Prayer; nor at man's, for what measure ye mete out to men shall men measure to you again.

5. How sweet a grace it is appeareth also in that it preserveth the outward peace of a man, and especially the peace of a good conscience.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

A Christian is God Almighty's gentleman. The real gentleman should be gentle in everything; at least in everything that depends on himself — in carriage, temper, constructions, aims, desires. He ought, therefore, to be mild, calm, quiet, even, temperate: not hasty in judgment, not exorbitant in ambition, not overbearing, not proud, not rapacious, not oppressive: for these things are contrary to gentleness.

(J.C. Hare.)

Showing all meekness unto all men
I. THE NATURE OF THIS GRACE will appear in the description of it. Meekness is a grace of God, whereby the heart and affections are inclined unto a mild and loving, a kind and courteous carriage towards our neighbour, even then when they might be provoked to anger. Where three things are laid down to be further opened to the better knowledge of this virtue —

1. That it is a grace of God, for the next verse will teach us that we are born as rough as Esau in our corrupted nature; and therefore this strippeth and goeth beyond the best nature, being a fruit of the Spirit, and is called the spirit of meekness, because it is such a peculiar work of the Spirit, and proceedeth not of the flesh.

2. The work of it is properly to preserve Christian affection, in moderating all revengeful passions, not suffering the heart to be easily overcome with bitterness, but is as a wall or fence of the soul, receiving all the shot of injurious and hostile actions and speeches, and yet keeping all safe within, not permitting the possessor hastily or violently either to offer to another or remove from himself such injuries. The mother of it is humility, the daughter is long-suffering, and therefore we read it set between these two in diverse places. It preserveth peace within when it is provoked to war, to anger, and return of wrongs, for then is the chief use of this grace, which is therefore added, because many men seem to have attained this virtue, when it is never a whir so. Let them alone, offend them not, you shall have them gentle, courteous, affable, and tractable enough; but cross them a little, and stir their blood, oh, now you must pardon them; they have their affections, and you shall know they can be passionate and angry as well as others; here shall you see the best nature betraying her meekness. But Christian meekness must step in to overcome evil with good when it is provoked to return evil, or else what great thing doest thou? It is no hard thing for the very Infidel and Turk to be kind to the kind, nay, the wild beast, if thou goest no further, will be as meek as thou, who the most of them hurt not unprovoked.

II. THIS MEEKNESS MUST BE SHOWED FORTH, not hid with ourselves, but it must be brought into the light, that others may have the benefit of it, for as this grace is a sign and pawn of our election, which, as the elect of God, we must put on and array ourselves withal (Colossians 3:12), so also must it be the ornament of our vocation, whereby we glorify God, adorn our profession, and win others unto the liking of it. Hence the apostle, praying the Ephesians to walk worthy of their high calling, teacheth them that this they shall do if they put on humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, etc. (Ephesians 4:2), for otherwise, if men partake not in these graces, the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace cannot long last undissolved.

III. THIS MEEKNESS MUST BE SHOWED TO ALL MEN — believers, unbelievers, friends, enemies, the better and the worse, which is a special point not to be neglected, because it is the ground of the verses following.

(T. Taylor, D. D.)

Conversing the other day with a friend on some point of domestic difficulty, it was replied by the latter, "Should I give up in that way, and be as meek as a lamb, I should be good for just nothing at all." "No," I answered, "there is nothing mightier than meekness." This sentiment, which, at the time, flashed upon my mind like a gleam of new truth, I have found, by subsequent reflection, to rest on a broad basis.

I. In the first place, meekness INVOLVES THE LARGEST SELF-CONTROL.

1. Meekness is not mental indolence. A person may be too lazy to resent a wrong, too intellectually lazy — like some big house dog in the farmer's kitchen, submitting with marvellous resignation to be kicked or pulled by the ears, if only he may be left in his snug, warm corner, and meeting it all with a most humble and beseeching whine. If this were meekness, we would not hesitate to pronounce it the weakest thing on earth.

2. It is not impassibility. Some are natural stoics. In some respects they are fortunate beings; utter strangers to that red-hot sense of injustice which sometimes bursts forth in words of heaven-lit prophecy — sometimes in words set on fire of hell. They escape that terrible knowledge the soul's capacity to suffer. And yet, doubtless; they are not to be envied; for the words of the poet are equally true when reversed: —

"Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure

Thrill the deepest notes of woe."

3. Nor is it dulness of perception. Some seem not to know when they are ill-treated. They are ignorant of the proprieties of life, of what is due to position; there is an entire lack of native dignity of character. True meekness, on the contrary, achieves its highest triumphs where the perceptions are most quick-sighted, the sensibilities keenest, and the mind most active and vigorous in all its operations. It is just here that we can best discern its true nature, its inherent might, the hiding of its power. So far from being a mere passivity, it is activity in its highest form. It is self-control in its broadest sway when girding itself in its full strength. It is victory over all that is mightiest in pride and passion, attained by the full and conjoint action of all the nobler powers of the soul. It is man in his sovereignty, ruling within the realm of his spirit, as the prince-subject of Jehovah. Its highest embodiment was Jesus of Nazareth.

II. Again, MEEKNESS IS MIGHTY IN GOD'S MIGHT. He loves the meek. They are the most like His Son — resembling Him in just that quality which was His most prominent characteristic. Still again, the might of meekness is seen in its power to secure happiness. Life is a perpetual wild chase after happiness. Who are winners? Pride? Passion? Ambition? Wealth? "Nay, nay, not yet," they each exclaim as they rush by, dripping with sweat; and catching breath, they add, "but the goal is just ahead, and then the prize is ours." The result is "even as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty." Yet, far off, away from the bustling and anxious crowd, I behold the meek man already inheriting the earth, in sweet fruition of the world that now is, and in joyous expectancy of that which is to come. The reign of passion is over. He has learned to recognise, in all events that affect him, not accidents, but Providence; not a stern and blind fate, but a kind and wise Father; not the present means and instruments merely, but the aim of final result. The peace of God that passeth understanding keeps his heart. The whole world has become a Beulah; and while meekly performing its duties, its eye catches sweet glimpses of the far-off land; his heart leaps betimes at snatches of the distant music, and his temples are fanned, ever and anon, by the refreshing breezes that are wafted thitherward. He has an antepast of heaven; a joyous earnest of his inheritance. Here, then, I say, is might. He gains what worldlings of every class toil and tug for, but always lose; or, as Cicero says, respecting another point, "They desire it, he has it." Once more: there is nothing like meekness to overcome the resistance of passion and pride in others. And yet it is just here that the worldly wise despise it most. I am assailed. I erect myself in proud might. I bid defiance to wrath. I mock at the deadliest threats of my enemy. I dare him to do his worst. Like Achilles before Agamemnon, I fling at his feet the oath pledge of battle. By all that is most fearful I swear to stand him foot to foot to the death. And what is the result of all this? Why, Greek meets Greek. Words fly back to words, wrath flashes to wrath, threats are hurled to threats, and pride towers aloft to pride. But what boots it all? You turn from the encounter, leaving your enemy never stouter in his resistance, while the tiger passions tear your own bosom, or react in paroxysms of futile tears. Now, what has meekness accomplished in just such cases? Silenced the proud words of the enemy; extinguished his raging wrath; roused up the elements of his better nature, and turned them against himself. It has completely subdued him; and the proud Greek has sat at the feet of his foe a weeping child. I say, then, let passion exhaust all its resources — let it tower to very sublimity, let it be a fit subject for an epic, let a Homer immortalise its deeds. Meekness is mightier; it will accomplish what passion shall labour for in vain. Meekness: — Meekness is the quality which heathenism everywhere has scouted as meanspiritedness, but which the gospel of Christ has canonised. It is that one condition of soul which, springing out of genuine penitence for sin, a profound sense of personal unworthiness, and a profound appreciation of the Divine mercy, predisposes a man to forbearance under provocation and forgiveness for injury. It has nothing in common with pusillanimity, but it has its origin in the religious experience which we call conversion; for it is when the sap root of human pride is broken by a thorough crushing down of the soul under the discovery of its sinfulness before God; it is when the strong man, reduced to cry for mercy at the hands of Infinite Justice, is fain to receive forgiveness, and hope, and peace with God as unmerited gifts from the very grace of his Redeemer; it is then, and through that religions change, that the heart grows susceptible of true meekness. Then humbleness eaters — humbleness, the child of penitence, and mild charity too, for all men, and a tender feeling — a feeling that one who has himself done so much evil in his day ought to bear with the evil doing of other men, that one who owes everything to mercy should be, above all things, merciful.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

A little lad on being asked, "What is meekness?" replied, "Mary is meekness." "Mary?" "Yes, my sister Mary, for she always gives smooth answers to rough questions."

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