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That such a confessor as the holy apostle St. Paul should have been deserted, at the time of his apology, when there must have been so large a number of Christians at Rome, may justly appear one of the most surprising circumstances recorded in the sacred history. It teaches us to cease from man, and to repose ourselves with some caution upon the friendship of the very best. It teaches us to watch over ourselves, lest the fear of man should bring a snare upon us, and lead us to be ashamed of Christ in his members. It concurs with the apostasy of Demas, to warn us that we beware of loving this present world, and keep our eyes more steadily fixed on a better, in which our highest interest lies, and by regarding which our souls will acquire a certain uniform tenor, that will prove their honour and their safety.
The readiness of Paul, amidst such a dearth of true and faithful friends, to part with those that yet remained, when he thought the service of Christianity required it, is an amiable and instructive part of his character. They know not the heart of a man, and the duty of a Christian aright, who know not that even the tender and friendly passions are to be guarded against, and admitted no further than reason and religion will warrant ; and that such society as is far dearer to us than any animal delight, or secular accommodation, is often to be given up, that our fidelity to God may be approved.
Once more; it is obvious to remark, that Paul, though favoured with such extraordinary degrees of divine inspiration, sets a proper value upon Books, and expresses a great concern about their being safely conveyed to him. Let us therefore pity the ignorance, rather than imitate the enthusiasm and madness, of those that set learning at defiance, especially in the ministers of the gospel. Let us thankfully acknowledge the divine goodness, in having furnished us with so many excellent writings of wise and pious men in all ages; and let us endeavour, by frequent converse with them, to improve our furniture, that our profiling may appear unto all men. Yet let us all remember that, how large and well-chosen soever our library may be, the sacred volume is of infinitely greater importance than all that Greece, or Rome, or Britain has produced, or the united labours of all the best of men who have written since it was concluded. And let the Christian minister remember, that the two epistles, through which we have now passed, and that which we are next to survey, are to be esteemed by him amongst the most edifying and important parts even of that incomparable and divine book.
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TITUS.
THE carliest account we have of Titus is in Gal. ii. 1-3. We may con
clude from-Paul's stiling him his own son, that he was converted by that apostle, who in various instances expressed a very high esteem for him.Though it is generally supposed that this epistle was written between his first and second imprisonment at Rome, the date of it is uncertain, as well as the place from whence it was sent. However, it is plain Titus was at Crete when he received it, where St. Paul had left him, to settle the church he had established there, and carry on the work he had begun. Accordingly the greatest part of the epistle is taken up in giving him directions for the more successful discharge of his ministry amongst them; and particularly for his behaviour towards those corrupt Judaizing teachers who endeavoured to pervert the faith and disturb the peace of the church. .
Paul reminds Titus of the reasons for which he left him in Crete ; and directs
him with regard to the ordination of other ministers. Ch. i. 1.-9.
I D AUL, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for*
P the faith of God's chosen people, and the acknowledgment % of the truth, which is according to godliness : in the hope of
eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, hath promised before the 3 world began; but hath manifested in his own time his word by
the preaching of it, with which I was intrusted, according to the 4 commandment of God our Saviour: To Titus my genuine son
according to the common faith, grace, mercy, peace from God
the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5 For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou mightest set in
order the things which were deficient, and ordain Elders in every 6 cityt, as I gave thee in charge. If any one be blameless; the
husband of one wife ; who hath believing children, not accused 7 of debauchery, or ungovernable. For a Bishop must be blame.
less, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon provoked,
not one who sitteth long over wine, not a striker, nor greedy of 8 sordid gain : but hospitable, a lover of good ment, sober, right9 cous, holy, temperate ; holding fast the faithful word, which he hath been taught, that so he may be able both to instruct others in sound doctrine, and to convince those that contradict it.
* That was the end to which his labours tended. See 1 Tim. vi. 3._" In order to the faith.” So mata is used at the end of this verse, and 2 Tim. i. 1. M.
† Every large town was by the ancients called a City. In Crete there were 100 such, in many of which it is most likely ministers were settled while Paul was among them. The same person here called an Elder, is v. 7. called a Bishop. VOL. II.
REFLECTIONS. Never let it be forgotten by any that call themselves Christians, that the faith of God's elect is the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness. Never let the great design of Christianity be lost in an eager contention for any of its appendages, or any of its parts. Yet, alas, how often has it, in particular instances, been wounded almost to death, in a furious attempt to rescue it, and that, sometimes perhaps, from only an imaginary danger! That we may be more sensible of its vital influence, let us ever retain the hope of that eternal life which it proposes, as the great end of all our pursuits ; even of that life which God that cannot lie halk promised. Let us rejoice to think that so immense a superstructure has so firm, so divine a foundation ; and let us never give it up for any thing that a flattering world, always ready to engage, and slow to perform, can promise.
Let us ever be very thankful for the provision God hath made for the manifestation of his word, through preaching, and for his goodness in raising up faithful pastors to his church, overseers in every age, who have been blameless, sober, just, holy, and temperate. Such may all be that appear under that sacred character; able, by their doctrine to instruct, by their reasoning to convince, by their practice to edify ; ever solicitous, that they may not neglect their pastoral services, that they may not lord it proudly over their brethren, that they may not be transported by furious passions, or misguided by rash conclusions, or perverted by low interests, and the greediness of filthy lucre ; but that they may approve themselves the faithful stewards of God, and promote the good order of his house ; and, so far as their influence can reach, the happiness of every member of his family. In order to this, let them look well to their own houses, that nothing may be wanting on their part to make their children tractable, faith. ful, and sober. And let the children of ministers consider the obligations they are under to cultivate a teachable spirit, and to maintain the strictest decency in their whole deportment, as remembering the superior advantages they may be supposed to enjoy for religious improvement, and how much a minister's reputation and usefulness depend upon the regularity of his family.
Paul cautions Titus against seducing teachers, and the native vices of the
Cretans ; and advises him to exhort different persons, according to their respective circumstances. Ch. i 10.-.1-8. •
10 IT is necessary that a bishop should be thus qualified; for there
1 are many disorderly persons, and vain talkers, who are de
ceived in their own minds, especially those of the circumcision ; 11 whose mouth must be stopped by solid arguments : who overturn
whole families, teaching things which they ought not, for the 12 sake of infamous gain. One of their countrymen, a prophet of
their own", hath said, “ The Cretans are always liars, pernicious 13 savage beasts, slow bellies.” This witness is true : for which
cause rebuke them severely, that they may be sound and healthful 14 in the faith ; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and the command15 ments of men who pervert the truth. To the pure indeed all
things are pure ; whereas to the polluted and unbelieving nothing 16 is pure, but their very mind and conscience is defiled. They
profess to know God, but in works deny him; being ab , ninable,
and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate. ii. But do thou speak the things which become wholesome doc2 trine. The aged men admonish to be watchful, grave, sober, sound 3 in faith, in love, in patience. The aged women, in like manner,
exhort to that steadiness, which becometh saints ; not false accu
sers, not given to much wine, teachers of that which is good : 4 that they wisely admonish the younger women to love their hus5 bands, to love their children; that they be discreet, chaste, keep
ing at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word 6 of God may not be blasphemed. In like manner, exhort the 7 young men to be sobert. In all things shewing thyself a pattern
of good works: in teaching, exercising uncorruptness, gravity, 8 sincerity, wholesome speech, that cannot be confuted ; that he
who is on the contrary side, and persists in his infidelity, may be ashamed of his opposition, having no evil to say of you.
REFLECTIONS. While we are reading the word of God, let us attentively observe what characters are adorned with honour, and what are branded with infamy. It is melancholy to think that any nation, though ever so small, ever so remote, ever so destitute of cultivation and instruction, should deserve the characters which Epaimenides gave of the Cretans, and which Paul found reason to confirm: that luxury and fraud, idleness and fury, dissonant as they may seem, should be their governing inclinations. Sad distempers in the minds of men ! But how peculiarly lamentable, when they prevail among professing Christians ! for among those that are Christians indeed they cannot possibly prevail. Yet surely there are not a few, even in Britain, with all its ad- vantages, who, while professing to know God, and Christ Jesus his Son, in works deny them. Such are abominable, in proportion to the degree in which they are disobedient ; and, as they are reprobate to every good work now, must expect to be rejected with abhorrence at last by that God whose name they have blasphemed, and whose Son they have dishonoured.
To remedy, and, if it be possible, to prevent such evils, let the ministers of Christ be still applying themselves, with suitable exhortations
# The poet Epimenides. The terms prophet and poet were used as synonymous. M. This character of the Cretais is confirmed by ancient writers. The phrase slow (or lazy) bellies, alludes to a species of swine which are so burdened with fat as to be scarcely able to move.
† Steady: superior to all sensual temptations.-" To govern their pas sions." M.
and charges, to all with whom they are concerned. Let them apply to the aged and the young ; and let the aged of both sexes use that au, thority which their more advanced progress in life may give, to enforce upon the rising generation lessons of wisdom and piety, according to their respective sexes and circumstances in life ; that prudence and chastity, economy and sweetness of temper, a subjection to their hus. bands, formed on love and on religion, may be the character of young wives ; and that they may join to it that very important duty, of a pious care in the education of those children which God may give them. And may the sobriety of young men encourage a hope, that they will preside over their families in the fear of God, and repay the goodness of such amiable consorts! And may the teachers, whether in public or private life, be themselves examples of the virtues they incule cate ; that they who study to asperse Christianity, may find themselves silenced, till their shame turns into a worthier affection ; till their silence breaks out into praise, and they, imbibing the likę principles, feel them productive of the likę virtues!
He urges a due care to instruct servants in their duty; and represents the
obligations arising from the design of the gospel, and the love of our Redeemer. Ch. ii. 9, &c.
9 L XHORT servants to be subject to their own masters, pleasing
I them in all things; not perily answering again when reprove 10 ed ; not privately defrauding ; but shewing all good fidelity ; that
they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the saving grace of God hath appeared unto all ranks of men, 12 instructing us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, and righteously, and piously in this present 13 world ; waiting for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearance 14 of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ: who gave him.
self for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify 15 to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These
things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority, Let no man despise thee.
REFLECTIONS, Hardly does the word of God afford a more instructive and com, prehensive summary of the gospel, than that which is here before us. It gives us a view of the nature of the dispensation, as a doctrine of grace ; and, at the same time, a doctrine according to godliness. It hath appeared to all men, and it bringeth them salvation, by inculcating the most salutary lessons that man can receive. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, how pressing soever their soli, citations may be. It instructs us in all the branches of our duty, to God, to ourselves, and to our fellow-christians. It guides us to upi. form and complete goodness; not extolling any one part, to the neg. Ject or injury of the rest, but tending to produce this beautiful birth,