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48

Paul declares his commission to preach the gospel.

SECT. great engagements into which he entered with before the world be. i. his Son, under the character of our Surety and gan;

Titus

Redeemer, before the world began, or time 1. 2. was divided into these revolving periods which

3 measure out its succeeding ages. The plan 3 But hath in due
was distinctly drawn in his all-comprehensive times manifested his
mind; but he hath now manifested it, in his word through preach-
own due and well-chosen time, by his word; ted unto me, according
ing, which is commit-
which administers to us that glorious hope, by to the commandment
the public preaching and declaration of it, with of God our Saviour;
which I was intrusted, according to the com-
mandment and sovereign pleasure of God our
4 Saviour.

5

6

And I address this epistle to Titus,

4 To Titus mine own

[my] genuine son, according to the tenor of the son after the common
common faith, even that Christian faith to which faith: Grace, mercy,
and peace from God
I had the happiness of converting thee: to whom the Father, and the
with an affection becoming a father in Christ, I Lord Jesus Christ our
unfeignedly wish every desirable blessing, even Saviour.
grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father,
and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour; by whom
we obtain an interest in him, and hope for that
eternal salvation from him, with which no in-
heritance on earth is by any means worthy to
be compared.

I

I

5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that

thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city,

For this cause I left thee in Crete, though could have been so heartily glad of thy company in my travels, that thou mightest set in order the things which were deficient there, as could not stay long enough myself to reduce as I had appointed them into so regular a state as I could have thee. wished; and particularly, that thou mightest ordain elders in every city, in which Christian churches are planted, to whom the stated oversight of them may be committed in the Lord, as I gave thee in charge when I parted with thee.

The office is so very important, that I hope blameless, the husband 6 If any be thou wilt be proportionably careful as to the of one wife, having character of the persons who are to be invested faithful children, not

b Before the world began.] It seems more natural to refer this to the promise made by the Father to Christ, in the cove nant of redemption, than, with Mr. Rymer, to explain it of the promise made, quickly after the creation, to our fallen parents: Gen. iii. 15. See Rymer of Rev. Rel. p. 49.

c Ordain elders in every city.] There were an hundred cities in the island of Crete though its dimensions were not very large;

with

accused

but it is well known, that every conside◄ rable town was called a city by the ancients. It it most likely that some congregations were settled under proper ministers while Paul was among them; but there were others not so provided, and the interposition of so wise and good a man. as Titus, probably honoured with such extraordinary gifts, would no doubt, have great weight on such an occasion.

d Believing

A bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God, &c.

steward of God; not

i.

49

accused of riot, or un- with it; and if any one is thought of in that SECT. ruly. view, let it be one who is known to be blameless in his conduct, the husband of only one wife, Titus to whom he entirely confines himself, neither 1. 6. allowing of polygamy, or divorce, or an irregular commerce with any other women; and let him be one who hath believing children, if he have any that are grown up, not accused of any kind of debauchery, or ungovernable in their temper and disposition, which would render them a reproach rather than an honour to the For a bishop must Christian name. I must insist on a care in 7 be blameless, as the this respect, for it is evident, that the disorders self-willed, not soon of children often reflect a dishonour on their angry, not given to parents, and indeed arise from something amiss wine, no striker, not in them: but a bishop, or overseer of a Christian given to filtby lucre; congregation, which the elder we speak of, by virtue of his office, is, must necessarily be blameless, as he is, in that society over which he presides, the steward of God, who is appointed in his name, to take care of his family. must not therefore be fierce and self-willed, obstinate, norose, and arrogant, not soon pro. voked to be angry, not one who sits long over his cups, and loves to drink large quantities of wine, not a striker of others, by which, whatsoever, his provocation may be, he always degrades himself in the eyes of those that are witnesses of the quarrel, nor greedy of sordid and infamous gain : But he ought to maintain g a character directly the opposite of all these, and to be hospitable, benign, sober, and grave in

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

d Believing children.] This is mention. ed with great propriety; for, if a man were not careful to instruct his children in the principles of Christianity, there would be great reason to doubt, whether he were kearty in the belief of it himself, and under a governing sense of its truth and importance; and, if a man had only unbelieving children in his house, that is, such as were so obstinate that they could not be brought to embrace Christianity, by any of the arguments which could be laid be. fore them in that age of miracles, it would be a great discouragement, and in some circumstances, a great hindrance to him, from pursuing the duties of a Christian elder, or bishop. And those evils, into which such obstinate infidel children might fall, would very probably, bring a reproach upon the family, which might, in

He

his

a degree, hurt the character of him who
presided in it.

It

e For a bishop must be blameless.]
has been often observed, that, if the bi-
shop, of whom Paul speaks, had been in-
vested with an office distinct from, and su-
perior to the elder mentioned above, there
could have been no room to conclude,
that an elder must be blameless, because a
bishop must be so, though the argument
would have held strongly in an inverted
order. By what degrees, and on what
reasons, the distinction was afterwards in-
troduced (as a distinction to be sure there
early was) it is not my business here
to inquire.

f Self-willed, obstinate, morose, and ar-
rogant.] Raphelius has taken a great deal
of pains to shew that this is the proper sig
nification of auban, the word here used,
See Raph. ex Herod, in loc.

50

Reflections on the character of a Christian bishop.

SECT. his deportment, righteous, holy, devout, and

i.

Titus

hath been taught, that

temperate in all things: Holding fast, in the 9 Holding fast the most resolute manner, the faithful word which faithful word, as he 19. he hath been taught by those who were commis- he may be able by sioned to publish it to the world, that SO he may be able both to instruct others in sound doctrine, vince the gain-sayers. and to convince and silence those that contradict

it.

sound doctrine both to exhort and to con

Ver.

IMPROVEMENT.

NEVER let it be forgotten by any that call themselves Chris1 tians, 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.

2

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 hath 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 3 for the manifestation of his word, through preaching, and for his goodness in raising up faithful pastors to his church, overseers in 7, 8 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 neg9lect 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 Tinterests, 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.

6

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, faithful 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.

SECT.

Paul cautions Titus against Judaizing teachers ;

SECT. II.

Paul cautions Titus against seducing teachers, and the native vices of the Cretans; and advises him to accommodate his exhortations to the different sorts of persons with whom he conversed, according to their respective sexes, ages, and circumstances. Titus I. 10, to the end. Chap. II. 1-8.

TITUS I. 10.

FOR there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers,

circumcision;

I

[blocks in formation]

ii.

HAVE particularly insisted upon it, that a bishop should be able to convince gainsayers, Titus especially they of the as well as to instruct candid and obedient hear- 1.10. ers. And indeed the precaution is very necessary at present, and particularly in the place where you now preside; for there are many disorderly [persons] and vain talkers, who are deceived in their own minds, in consequence of which it is no wonder if they are active in deceiving others. And this is especially the case with those of the circumcision, who are so eager to impose on their Gentile brethren the ceremonies of the Mosaic law, as if Christianity itself were insufficient to save us without them: Whose mouth must therefore be stopped by solid 11 arguments, and their unreasonable clamours silenced by the strenuous exercise of discipline: for they are persons who are so active in spreading these mischievous notions, that they overturn whole families, teaching things which they ought not for the sake of infamous gain; hoping by their doctrines to secure the favour of some rich men, who never think they can do enough for those preachers that support their own factions and dividing notions.

11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, they ought not, for fil

teaching things which

thy lucre's sake.

12 One of them

selves, even a prophet

I know that there are many such at present in of their own, said, The your island; and I remember that Epimenides, Cretans are always li- one of their [countrymen], and a poet in such ars, high renown, that I may call him a kind of prophet of their own, has said, the Cretans are always liars, pernicious savage beasts, and yet

a A prophet.] Epimenides, whose words Paul here quotes, is said, by Diogenes Laertius, to have been a great favourite of the gods; but Aristotle says he never foretold any future event; which, as Dr. Scoll justly observes (Scott's Christian Life, VOL. X.

slow

Vol. III. p. 650), is a plain argument that
the word prophet is sometimes used in a
a large sense, for one who is supposed, by
the person applying the title to him, to be
an instructor of men in Divine things, from
whom the will of the Deity may be learnt.
G
b Cretans

12

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52

He reminds him of the national character of the Cretans.

ii.

Titus

13 This witness is

buke them sharply,

be

SECT. slow bellies, a wretched compound of luxury ars, evil beasts, slow
and idleness, fierceness and falsehood, which bellies.
makes it exceedingly difficult to reform them,
I. 12. or even to live safely and quietly among them.
This witness concerning them is, in the general,
true, though some particular persons may be
13 found of a different character. For which cause
rebuke them severely, when they begin to shew true: wherefore re-
a disposition to corrupt Christianity; that they that they may
may be sound in the faith, and that the simpler sound in the faith;
part of them may be preserved from the dis-
14 honest artifices and attempts of others. And
particularly, that they may not fall into the
folly of giving heed to Jewish fables, and to the
commandments and traditions of men, who per- the truth.
vert the truth of the gospel with those human
mixtures by which they have in a great measure
spoiled and enervated the law of Moses, for
which they pretend so great a zeal.

15 I know they value themselves highly upon the
distinctions of food, which they inculcate as
of so great importance to purity. But they are
much mistaken. To the pure indeed all things
[are] pure. A man that habitually exercises a

b Cretans are always liars, &c.] Perhaps it might have been in some views more proper to have translated this Greek verse in such a manner, that it might have read as a verse in English, "False Cretans!" "Savage beasts, with bellies slow!" It is evident the poet here suggests a remarkable contrast, to shew what a mixture there was of fierceness and luxury in the characters of the Cretans. Savage beasts are generally active and nimble; but these men, while they had the fury of lions and tigers, indulged themselves so much in the most sordid idleness and intemperance, that they grew (as it were) all belly; and like a breed of swine common in the eastern Countries, were often so burdened with fat that they could hardly move. As for their proneness to falsehood, it is well known that xlv, to talk like a Cretan, was a proverb for lying (as xog:vJiaLuv, to live like a Corinthian, was for a luxurious and debauched life). See Erasm. Prov. p. 642, 643), and it is remarkable that Polybius scarce ever mentions this nation without some severe censure. See Raphel. e Polyb. in loc.

c Rebuke them severely.] Andlows, with a cunning severity. From whence Mr. Blackwall infers, that it is a vain pretence that only gentle and soft expressions are to be applied to people that renounce good prin.

good

14 Not giving beed to Jewish fables and

of

commandments
men, that turn from

15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled,

ciples, and corrupt the gospel. Black. Vind. Vol. I. p. 308, 309. But Paul speaks of reproving vice, not error; and if any consequence is to be drawn from one to the other, the remark is to be admitted with much caution, considering to what a degree pride and passion often transport men, even in the management of theological controversies, beyond all bounds of prudence, charity, and decency. Timothy is exhorted to rebuke with all longsuffering (2 Tim. iv. 2), and some account for the difference, by the different tempers of the reprovers; supposing that of Timothy might be warmer than that of Titus; others, by the different character of the persons to be reproved; as the Ephesians seem to have been more gentle, obliging, and complaisant, the Cretans more obstinate, rough, and headstrong. But the best reply seems to be this, that there is a degree of long-suffering and gentleness, very consistent with all that severity which faithfulness requires; which is not that of boisterous passion, ill-nature, and scur rility, but of meek, though resolute zeal for God, and friendship to the offender; which yet will not be silenced by trifling excuses, nor fail seriously to represent the fatal consequences that may attend the evil reproved.

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