Is to be rejected for to be refused , A.V. Nothing is to be rejected. The A.V., "nothing to be refused," manifestly uses "nothing" in its adverbial sense ("in no degree," "not at all," Johnson's 'Dict.'), as οὐδέν in Greek is also commonly used (Liddell and Scott). In fact, it is very difficult to construe the passage as the R.V. does. To say "nothing is to be rejected if it is received," is scarcely sense. But to say that every creature of God is good (and on that account not to be rejected) if it is received with thanksgiving is very good and edifying sense. Creature ( κτίσμα ). The form commonly used by St. Paul is κτίσις ( Romans 8:20 , Romans 8:21 , Romans 8:22 ; 2 Corinthians 5:17 , etc.). But κτίσμα stands by the side of κτίσις , like βρῶμα by the side of βρῶσις ὅραμα by the side of ὅρασις πόμα by the side of πόσις , and many more. The form κτίσμα is found in James 1:18 ; and twice in Revelation. Good ( καλόν ); with reference to Genesis 1:10 , Genesis 1:12 , etc. To be refused ( ἀπόβλητον ); only here in the New Testament, but found in classical Greek, and not uncommon in the LXX . and other Greek versions, for that which is "unclean," or "abominable." If it be received with thanksgiving. This clearly refers to "every creature of God," and is the condition on which it is good in relation to the receiver. Nothing can be clearer or more certain than that the apostle is not arguing against the Manichean doctrine of the evil of matter, or the works of the Demiurge, but against Jewish scruples about meats. "Every creature of God," he says, "is good"—words which would have no force if the creatures in question were not admitted to be the works of God, but thought to be the works of the Demiurge. But applied to the Jewish scruples, the words are perfectly relevant. Every creature of God is good, and on no account to be treated as common or unclean ( Acts 10:15 , Acts 10:28 ), provided only that it be received with thanksgiving.
The history of the Christian Church is the history of the sowing of tares as well as of the sowing of good grain; and it describes the work of seducing spirits as well as that of the Spirit of God. The work of heresy is not merely the denial of true doctrine, but it is the invention and propagation of a multitude of false doctrines. Nor, again, are the false doctrines so invented and promulgated, on the face of them, necessarily ungodly doctrines. On the contrary, they often assume to themselves to be holier, stricter, more heavenly doctrines, than those of the Church of God. The Church of God is not holy enough for these spirit-taught separatists; the precepts of Jesus Christ do not attain a standard high enough for their exalted aspirations; the apostles do but grovel in the dust of commonplace piety, while these self-sent teachers soar to the heights of the true knowledge of the Infinite. But not only does Church history record the rise, in a lamentable succession, of the various troublers of the spiritual Israel, the men who have done more to hinder God's work on earth than all the persecutors and atheists put together have accomplished—the Cerinthuses, and Marcions, and Montanuses, and Manicheuses, and Socinuses, and countless other sectaries of later times—but the spirit of prophecy revealed beforehand for the Church's warning that so it should be. The Holy Ghost, in no obscure or doubtful words, made it known to the Church that there would be apostasies many and grievous from the faith once delivered to the saints, that the leaders of those apostasies would be seducing spirits—spirits of antichrist, as St. John has it—and that some of them at least would put on the hypocritical appearance of greater holiness, for the purpose of the better deceiving the hearts of the simple. Thus while Christ taught by his apostle that "marriage is honorable in all," these forbade to marry; while the Word of God declared that "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving," these commanded "to abstain from meats," saying, "Touch not, taste not, handle not." The Word of God teaches that God gives us richly all things to enjoy; these enjoined every kind of austerity to the body—"bodily exercises" which profited little. The Word of God bids us approach bodily to the throne of grace through the mediation of Jesus Christ; these would keep men back from God, and substitute, in the name of humility, the worship of angels. And that these pernicious doctrines were not confined to the first ages of the Church, the history of the Church too sadly teaches. The most opposite forms of heresy which have in all ages distracted the Church have always had this in common, that, pretending to improve upon the sound, sober, and wise teaching of the Word of God, they have corrupted and forsaken it. Enforced celibacy for pure-minded chastity; artificial rules of abstinence for habitual temperance and self-restraint; groveling saint and image worship for direct communion with the living God; self-righteous separation from the world for holy living in the world; bruising the body for mortifying the soul; pretentious rejection of wealth for self-denying use of it; leaving the state of life in which God has placed a man, instead of adorning the gospel in it; making those things to be sins which God has not made sins, and those things to be virtues which God has not made virtues;—these have ever been the characteristics of those "doctrines of devils," the purpose of which is to turn the simple away from the truth. "The good minister of Jesus Christ" must hold his course boldly and straightforwardly in the teeth of all such false doctrine. He must not parley with the teachers of heresy, nor mix the wine of the gospel with the water of falsehood. He knows that the Word of God is purer, and holier, and wiser, and higher, than all the subtleties of human invention, and will stand in its glory when they are all swept away into nothingness. And, knowing this, he must give himself wholly to teaching the truth, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, being fully assured that in so doing he will both save himself and them that hear him.
"For every creature of God is good." The gospel stood in a difficult position. On the one hand was asceticism, with its hermits of every creed, and its retreats in Asia, Africa, and Egypt; on the other hand was Epicureanism with its philosophy of enjoyments, which ran into lawless excess. We must judge a new religion by its first teacher; for Christ was his own religion alive and in action. John the Baptist was an ascetic; but Christ came eating and drinking, and his enemies said, "Behold, a wine-bibber, and a friend of publican and sinners." His first miracle was at a marriage festival, and he dined with the Pharisees. We have here an example in morals. Every creature or creation—not necessarily a living thing—is good. Show that it is from God, and then it must be good. In the story of Creation, after every new day, "God saw that it was good."
I. ASCETICISM MAKES A FALSE WORLD OF ITS OWN . It narrows life; it empties the fountains of joy, it destroys the hopes of youth, it degrades the body, and treats matter as though it were evil. God's idea of life is that body, soul, and spirit are to be redeemed.
II. THE CHRISTIAN . FAITH MAKES A TRUE WORLD OF MEN '. We are to be trained through use, even when use is dangerous; for test makes manhood. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation." We are to have the analogy in Nature. She is to stand the storm, and be strengthened by it. So the atmosphere is purified, so the roots of the trees take faster hold of the soil. What a world of disease and death this would be without currents and waves and storms!
III. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH HAD FALSE INTERPRETERS . It could but be that the surrounding tendencies affected the Christians. Just as there were Judaistic Christians, so there were those affected by the old Manichean doctrine "that matter was evil." Consequently they would treat the body as corrupt and evil. The apostle, therefore, is not only general, but specific in his statement, "Some forbid to marry and forbid to eat meats;" and he repeats the expression, "which God hath created." The same tendency appeared, and was fatally developed, in the monastic life of the Church. The monk and the nun appeared to possess a special sanctity, but it was not really so. The forces of nature, if they have not pure avenues of enjoyment, will be sure to find impure channels; and history shows that monasteries have been associated with hidden vice and criminal deeds of shame, though softened over with vesper chants and morbid garments of melancholy hue.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:4 .—A universal use.
"And nothing to be refused." The apostle has shown that government is a creation of God; we are to pray for kings and all in authority, and this is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. And he has taught us to obey the powers that be; for they are ordained of God. He has shown that the place of man in the Creation is of God. A woman's lot is not to be the world's leader or teacher, but the equal companion of man. All social economies break to pieces that deny God's ordinations in the universe. No order that he has created is to be refused.
TO REFUSE IS TO IMPLY A SUPERIOR JUDGMENT TO THAT OF GOD . The wisest must know best. He who is from everlasting to everlasting has given a revelation for all aspects of society and all ages of men. Individual liberty is left. We are not to forbid to marry or to command to abstain from meats; though, if any thought the meat was offered to idols, and that they sanctioned idolatry, they might refuse it; as our temperance friends think that when use runs to abuse, and is a stumbling-block, they have a perfect right to use liberty of abstinence. "Nothing to be refused." Wonderful words! The imagination of the mind is a creation of God. Poetry, affection, and art alike may be used in the Christian sphere. The intellect of the wise is a creation of God; it is not to be blindfolded. We are not to say, as Rome said to Galileo, "Faith does not inquire;" but we are to use it in its own sphere, reverently looking up to God for more light. "Come, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." All natural beauty is of God. It is no sign of religion to love ugliness. Only let your beauty not be meretricious beauty. Let it be pure, as God is pure. "Nothing to be refused."—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:4 .—A grateful heart.
"If it be received with thanksgiving." We are always to be conscious of dependence, or else our very blessings turn to curses. We become full, and we deny God. There is a prosperity without God which makes men proud and hard. Men lose the consciousness of the transitoriness of earthly good, and of their entire dependence upon God. We are, therefore, to live in an atmosphere of gratitude. We are not to receive mercies as though we had a right to them, but always, as Paul says, "Be ye thankful."
I. THINK OF THE THOUGHT MANIFESTED IN THESE GIFTS , Every student of nature becomes surprised that beauty is born out of such strange elements, and that there should be such harmony of forces that, taken alone, would be terribly destructive. God's thoughts are, toward us, precious thoughts, spoken in all ages by holy men , and symbolized in the world of nature. God has thought out all that is needful for our life. He has stored the earth, interlaced it with rich metallic veins, filled it with limestone and coal, that all might be ready for his child. And in grace we see how God promised a Savior, and, when his Son came into the world, "all things are now ready."
II. THINK OF THE FORBEARANCE THAT CONTINUES THEM . Men have abused God's mercies. If men destroy the nobleman's shrubs, he closes his grounds. If men deface the pictures, the galleries are no longer free. And yet God bears with all the sin and frailty of man; and from generation to generation this is the thought that should move man most—not only the forgiveness, but the forbearance, of God.
III. THINK OF THE PLEASURES RECEIVED FROM THEM . What millionfold ministrations of pleasure there are! What has not nature been to you, and love, and thought, and home! There is no more wonderful contemplation than the varied pleasures of heart and mind.
IV. THINK OF THE UNCREATIVE POWER OF MAN . We cannot create an atom; we can only readjust and combine. And the artist cannot create his colors; he can only mix them. The physician cannot create his remedies; he can only find them. The builder cannot create his stones, he can only quarry them. The child can gather the flower; but a whole universe of men cannot give it life again. Let every creation of God be received with thanksgiving..—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:5 . — Creation sanctified.
"For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." Here, then, is an exquisite harmony. We have been talking of creation, and now we come to consider the Word of God. And these creative things are to be "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." Men can talk with God. His fellowship is a test of all our pleasures and companionships and associations—"Would the Bible be out of place here?" It is never out of place in nature's gardens and groves. The best descriptions of nature are in the Bible. It is never out of place in pure festivities. It records the marriage supper, and the music and the dance when the prodigal came home. It is never out of place in children's joys; for it gives the picture of a glad and happy childhood. The prophet says, "The streets of the city shall be full of girls and boys playing;" and Christ took up little children in his arms, and blessed them. It is never out of place in pure human love; for that is poetized in one entire book of the Bible. It is not out of place in the earnest pursuit of secular things; for the proverbs appeal to personal endeavor, and to the right enjoyment of riches and honor. The Bible sanctifies life from the cradle to the grave, and any social economy apart from the Word of God is only a paper defense against tyranny and wrong. "And prayer." For we may speak to God. The neutral face of nature is ghastly without him. "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." Can I ask God to be there at all? Can I ask him to aid me in my work? Can I ask him to comfort me if I fail? Can I ask him to quicken my powers and enlarge my opportunities? Can I ask him to sanctify my associations? These are vital questions; for nothing is sanctified without him, and everything is "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer."—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:6 .—A wise reminder.
"If thou put the brethren in remembrance." We cannot create truth, any more than the artist can create nature. Revelation is not imagination. A teacher can combine, harmonize, reproduce, and call to remembrance. Timothy cannot add to the gospel. In the eleventh verse of the first chapter it is called "the glorious gospel, which was committed to my trust." A trustee does not alter the will, neither does he add to it. All that he has to do is sacredly to carry out the last wishes of the testator. And when Christ had finished the gospel by his ascension, then he sent them into all the world to preach it.
I. THE CHURCH A BROTHERHOOD . "Put the brethren." Here is no priestly domination, no hierarchical pretension.
1. Brotherhood in service . We may have different functions, but we are all servants. We have it in type in the great Servant, "who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." We ought never to be ashamed of service. The old guilds in England were beautiful things. It is a pity now that retirement is thought more honorable than service.
2. Brotherhood in sympathy . The most precious element in life is the sentiment of pity. Some men despise sentiment; but without it you take away the atmosphere of life, as in nature atmosphere is the drapery of the hills and the haze of the mountains. This sympathy is subtle, not merely spoken, but breathed in tones and glances at us in looks of thoughtful love. It is an angel of help, always swift to help, and ready to fly to sorrow. Shakespeare calls it "Heaven's cherubim horsed."
3. Brotherhood in pilgrimage . In Church life there will be absence of mere etiquette and ceremony. It will be a contrast to the world. It will not be easy to come and go from a true pilgrim Church. Pride may not care for it; fashion, in its novelistic literature, may laugh at it; but the Christian knows that there is something strengthening in the fellowship of the saints.
II. THE GOSPEL A REMEMBRANCE . "Put them in remembrance;" because of their preoccupation. Business life, the cares of home, make us forget the heavenly Word. Too often the angels of God stand outside the heart. In a busy age like the present there is nothing men so much need as quiet hours for the quickening of memory. "Remembrance;" because of familiarity. As the Swiss mountaineer thinks little of the beauty which the traveler goes miles upon miles to see, so the gospel has been round about our childhood and youth, and there is a danger lest we make light of that which is so familiar to our thought. "Remembrance;" because of pride. We forget that we need the gospel, and once felt ourself to be chief of sinners; forget that we were slaves, and can now go back and take up the broken chains of old sins. "Remembrance;" because we may seek to make a new religion for ourselves. Earnestness may take the forms of Pharisaism and asceticism; we may try Emersonian self-dependence. We are to remember that the gospel of the grace of God is what we all need unto the end.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:6 . — Ministerial vocation.
"Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained." Taking your own medicines. Eating the bread you recommend. A good horticulturist will show you his own garden. The test, therefore, of Christian faith and good doctrine is—being nourished up.
I. IT MAKES MEN STRONG TO ENDURE . Ministers are men of like passions with others; as Shakespeare says—
"We are all men!
In our own nature, frail, incapable.
Of our flesh, few are angels."
Paul realized all this himself, and said, "We are men of like passions with yourselves." In the daily conflict, the soul that is nourished up and made strong in Christ can "endure as seeing him who is invisible."
II. MADE STRONG TO ENJOY . Full of deep and quiet joy. It is a poor strength that can merely show self-denial! There must be self-exercise—the ability to show that life in God leads to a ministry of service that shall be full of heart and hope.
III. MADE STRONG TO TESTIFY . "Nourished up in the words of faith," so as not merely to expound them or to give elaborate exegesis of doctrine, but to live out the heavenly truths. Timothy was to attain unto this, and to let no man despise his youth, because age alone is not wisdom, and Paul speaks of him as having "attained."—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:8 . — Religious recompense.
"Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is." It is a fair charge against mediaevalism, that it left out of sight the Christianization of this present life, and became only another-worldism. The host carried to the dying was everything; the elevation of the earthly life was nothing. Marshes might remain undrained, habitations unimproved, knowledge be imprisoned, science be garroted, and this earth neglected, provided the people became true sons of the Church and possessed the priestly passports to eternity! The religious nature (and there is that in every man) was perverted. Man became the subject-power of those who, in the name of God, darkened the moral sense, and degraded human nature under the pretence of saving it. The gospel has always had the promise of the life that now is; it saves men from selfishness and sin, as well as from Gehenna.
I. THE LIFE THAT NOW IS WAS CREATED BY GOD . Human life and human history are not accidents. God created us, and not we ourselves. Better to be born and to die in the same hour, than to live on through weary years, if human life has not a heavenly purpose in it. God thought out this world. God designed us to use it; and when we mourn over sin and ignorance and darkness, we rejoice that Christ came to put away sin, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness, Nature is ours, with all her mountains and seas, her pastures and flocks, the silvery thread of her rivers, and the Gothic arches of her forests, richly to enjoy. Christ came to claim humanity, to redeem humanity. The broken harp he will restring and set to divinest music. We will not put sepia into all the pictures of earth's to-morrow; for "the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord be revealed, and all flesh see it together."
II. THE LIFE THAT NOW IS TO BE MOULDED BY GOSPEL INFLUENCES . We read that Paul "persuaded and turned away much people." If the gospel has the promise, we must help in the fulfillment of the promise. When we see wrongs, we must try to remedy them. When God gives us the remedy, we must take care to point to the great Physician alone. We need not be afraid. The gospel is unique; it stands alone. It has done more for this sin-stricken world than any words of man can tell. And Christ still lives on, and his Spirit is one of restraint in men, even when it is not a salvation. If caricature could have crushed Christianity, it would have been silenced long ago. The life that now is was molded by the gospel, so that men who were once darkness had light in the Lord. Humanity breathed again; slavery felt its grasp grow weaker; polygamy became a cruelty and a shame; and as we look at its beneficent progress, and see orphanages and homes and refuges rising up on every hand, we have abundant evidence that the gospel is promise of the life that now is. Suicide, that had been the euthanasia of Rome, ceased, Men who had lost their love of life in the satiety of its pleasures, and to whom death was a relief from its ennui , gave place to a race who found new hope and new joy in the pursuit and pleasures of the life that now is, under the lordship of Christ.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:8 . — The great beyond.
"And of that which is to come." It is not too much to say that the gospel alone, in this age, is the witness to immortality—a witness preserved in three aspects: it is taught by Christ's words; illustrated in Christ's life; and attested by Christ's resurrection. Outside the gospel we Lave materialism, which denies it; agnosticism, which says it does not know about it; and the modern school who use the word "immortality," but mean immortality of influence, or a life which has on earth its permanent pervasive power after we are gone: just as the oak is immortal which sends on, from acorn to acorn, its being. Before Christ came:
1. Immortality had its place as an instinct. The philosophers admitted that.
2. It had its place as an imagination. The poets made dreams out of it.
3. It had its place as an ancient revelation.
The Hebrews had knowledge of it. But secularism, in the fashionable school of Sadducees, had darkened it. Christ came to bring life and immortality to light by the gospel. It is this light in which the gospel is bathed; the perspective behind all its picture-teachings; the consolation of apostles, confessors, and martyrs. But Paul links it with the life that now is, because he would not let the doctrine of immortality become basely used, as it was in Persia. There slavery and wrong were unredressed. Persia said to the oppressed, the poor, the serf, the miserable, "Never mind, Ormuzd will make it right hereafter!" Not so says Paul. Religion has its rectitude's and its rewards here as well. The gospel has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
I. THEN LIFE IS CONTINUOUS ; THERE IS NO BREAK . Death is not a dividing power. It is a dark arch through which the river flows. If a pure river, then he which is holy shall be holy still. If a fetid river, then he which is filthy shall be filthy still. This is life eternal—to know Christ; and, having him, we have glory and immortality. The insect does not die when it changes its garment from the grub to the winged being, when it exchanges earth for air. Nor do we die. We are unclothed that we may be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven. The body sheds itself often. At seventy we have had ten bodies; but the mind, the heart, the conscience, the memory, have a consciously unbroken continuity. We never shed them! The road is seen today from the child's first step; the river flows through town and city, but it is the same river. We feel this; it is the mystery of personality; it is the symbol of continuity. Through all the years we have had one being, and through the dark arch of death it flows on into the life that is to come.
II. THEN LIFE IS A PROPHECY . There is no difficulty here. As the child is the prophecy of the man, so the man is the prophecy of the immortal. In a mirror, and that mirror himself, man may read the future world. His tastes, desires, pursuits, pleasures, all globe themselves in the microcosm of his heart. He need consult no augurs about future destiny. Here are the mystic pages: "He that believeth on the Son hath life;" its form, shape, color, quality. Christ has changed the nature, and made it God-like and Divine. The Christian life may be shady, imperfect, and stained with evil; but it is a God-like thing; its pity, purity, righteousness, holiness, are attested. Perfect it, and you have heaven. It were well for men to think, not only of what is, but of what is to come. Even bad men hope to alter. Men think a sudden change at last may come; a turn of the helm just as the vessel nears the rapids may cause it to glide into the river of life. But life here is a prophecy. It is the earnest of the inheritance of reward or shame—the life that is to come, with its advent hour so quiet, so sure, so solemn; coming but once, but coming to all. We thank God for the great sky of immortality above us, and for the rest that remaineth for the people of God.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:10 . — Adequate reasons.
"For therefore we [both] labor." To understand a man's history, we must understand his philosophy of life—that is, his motives and his reasons. For no life has unity without this. It may have spasmodic activities and instinctive virtues, but no completeness or consistency. Here is—
I. THE ARGUMENT OF A TRUE FAITH —" THEREFORE ." A man's thought does not always rule his life, even though conscience enforces truth as a duty. A man's conscience does not always rule his life. It is said that man is a will; and this is true, for it is ever the supreme power. Man is made up of three things—"I can," "I ought," "I will." Christ had become the Master of Paul's life; therefore he labored, because the gospel was a fact, not a fable ( 1 Timothy 4:7 ) spun out of Jewish brains. Men like Strauss have tried to prove it a myth—something that grew up in the minds of men. Imagine the Jewish mind that had grown more ritual and legal, developing into the simplicity of Christianity! Imagine philosophy that had grown more and more proud and exclusive, developing a religion for the common people! The gospel was a faithful saying, and St. Paul did not alter and improve his doctrine and teachings; he preaches the same gospel in his earlier and later Epistles. He was a man of sober judgment and of intellectual power, and no mere rhapsodist. He says, "It is worthy of all acceptation"—by the scholar and the peasant, the Jew and the Gentile, the bond and the free. The Jew would find it fulfilled his Law, his symbols, his prophecy. The Gentile would find it answered to his instinct, his hidden desire, his deepest intuition. "Therefore" is the argument of a true faith. We are not the disciples of a new sentiment or a mere romantic embassy; for the new temple is built, like the temple of Jerusalem, upon a rock.
II. THE TOIL OF A TRUE FAITH . "Therefore we labor," not simply "we teach" nor "formulate opinions." That might be done with ease, like philosophic teachers, in the garden and the porch. "We labor!" A word involving pain and tears, as well as toil. The tendencies of the times are against us. The corrupt taste of a degenerate age is against us. The cross is to the Jew a stumbling-block, and to the Greek foolishness. We do not please men, like the rhetoricians. We do not amuse men, like the sophists, We labor in journeyings, in perils, in hunger, in stripes. Think of St. Paul's outcast condition, so far as his own countrymen were concerned. Think of his relation to the Roman power—suspected of sedition; and accusations of his fellow-countrymen, the Jews. At a time when Rome swarmed with spies, he was laboring in the face of certain danger and death.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:10 . — Apostolic endurance.
"We suffer reproach." This is hard to bear, even when it is not deserved. All who have broken old ties of Church or home know its power. Men ever brand with heresy that which conflicts with their own opinions. Against St. Paul men brought false charges. We must not surround the gospel then with the glory associated with it now . We put the nimbus on the heads of the saints and martyrs; their enemies crowned them with shame.
I. THERE WAS THE CONSCIOUS LOSS OF ALL THAT THE WORLD HOLDS DEAR . A good name and a fair fame, how precious these are to us all! But if we move daily in an atmosphere of suspicion and false accusation, how full of misery the outward lot becomes! It is a proof of how precious Christ was to Paul, that he counts all things but offal that he may win Christ. Reproach itself became a source of joy when he felt that it was endured for the Master's cause. "If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye."
II. IT WAS A SURE PROOF OF THE REALITY OF THEIR RELIGION . "Because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil," said Christ, "therefore they have hated me." The Master was reproached as a blasphemer, a wine-bibber, a seditionist, a friend of publicans and sinners. It was a testimony to his earnest character that Paul suffered reproach. Wolves do not worry a painted sheep, and the world does not persecute a mere professor. In every age of religious earnestness reproach has had to be endured. The Covenanters of Scotland in their wilderness-worship, when they spread the white communion cloth on the yet whiter snow; the Puritans in their hidden assemblies; and missionaries like Carey, satirized by the reviews! Even now it is not an easy thing to be a Christian; but we find in the gospel that which no secular inspiration can give—the power to live in the face of an antagonistic world.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:10 . — Sustaining motive.
"Because we trust in the living God." One remarkable fact in the history of St. Paul was that nothing damped his ardor. It was not so with such men as Luther, who seemed to feel at last that all is vain. There were no outward forces to sustain the life of the new Church. Well may the ancient words be used in contrasting the cause of Mohammed with that of the gospel: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God."
I. " IN THE LIVING GOD ." The tendency of Judaism was to leave God in the past! The age of inspiration had passed, the prophetic roll had closed, and the Jews became scribes and traditionists. They had a codex of finished Law, and gathered up the opinions of the rabbis upon the minutest matters of ceremonial and duty. Paul preached a God who was then baptizing men with fire—a Holy Spirit that was working in the hearts of the faithful.
II. " THE LIVING GOD " BECAUSE THE GOSPEL SHOWED ALL THE MARKS OF LIFE . It embodied Divine power, it manifested a living purpose. It had an echo in the conscience and heart of men. God, who in times past had spoken to the fathers by the prophets, had in these last days spoken unto them by his Son. God was manifest in the flesh. The Spirit had descended after Christ's ascension, and Pentecost had already taken its place in history.
III. " THE LIVING GOD " HAD SHOWN THAT HE COULD TAKE CARE OF HIS SERVANTS . He had opened ways for them; he had touched the hearts of men. As they preached, the message had been accompanied with power from on high; and Paul in his imprisonment had received grace according to his day.
IV. " THE LIVING GOD " WHO WOULD CONTINUE HIS WORK IF HIS SERVANTS DIED . Empires might fall; dynasties might change; the ancient Jewish Church might fulfill its day; but the living God had designed a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness should dwell; and thus his apostles trusted, not in an arm of flesh, but in a living God.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:10 .—The universal Redeemer.
"Who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." Paul had no limited atonement to preach, but that Christ died for all, and was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. There was no court of the Gentiles; for all alike—Jew and Greek—were included under sin that the grace of God might appear to all men. In Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free; all are one in the provision; all need it; all must have it. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ." But
I. HE IS THE SAVIOR SPECIALLY OF THEM THAT BELIEVE ; for unless faith looks up mid lays hold on Christ, the virtue will not come out of him, either of forgiveness or life. It matters not that the lifeboat is provided for all in the sinking ship, unless men will leap into the lifeboat. It matters not that the electric cord conveys the current, unless men adjust it to their wants.
II. AND THIS SALVATION IS MADE MANIFEST IN EVERY AGE . In that age it stayed suicide, it raised hospitals, it emancipated Ephesians and Corinthians from lust, it uplifted women, it purified law, and it created brotherhood between Samaritan, Gentile, and Jew. In the early centuries we see it at work in the varied peoples that united in its worship, whilst the bishops of the Church were African, Greek, Roman, and Armenian. It saved men in the catacombs from despair, and constrained them to write on their epitaphs words that breathed of hope; and it continues to save. It enlarges the kingdom of Christ; it breaks up the heptarchy of evil in the heart, as province after province becomes loyal to God; and it redeems body, soul, and spirit. "Beside me there is no Savior" is as true today as ever. The love of beauty often ends in mere sensuous aestheticism. The seeking after righteousness often leaves the upas tree of the heart with its deadly leaves within. New ideals of social economy find man's selfishness supreme in every new adjustment of law. Selfishness never has been slain, save at the cross. But this gospel saves them that believe today . Men too often prefer costly ritual and formal ceremonial; but a new heart means a new life, and the gospel saves them that believe.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:12 .—A young teacher.
"Let no man despise thy youth." Apart from the direct reference of these words to the Christian apostolate, they are appropriate to us all in the season of youth. Spring-time is so different from autumn! Nature then is full of promise. As in spring the buds are bursting, and the birds building, and Nature's flower-show preparing, and her orchestra tuning,—still we pause to think what may come. Locusts may eat up all green things; the hot sirocco winds may wither the verdure, and the fruit of the vine may fail. Still there is a blessed promise in early days. No sane man will be found to despise youth in itself. As well despise the acorn because it is not an oak, or the orange blossom because it has not fruited. The spirit of the text is this—Do not act so as to lead men to despise you.
I. MEN DESPISE MERE WORD - HEROISM . Be an example in word; in conversation, which means citizenship; in charity, which means every aspect of love to God and man; in spirit, which means the atmosphere that surrounds your life; in faith, which means vital obedience to the doctrines of the gospel; and in purity, the absence of which was the curse of Asia Minor and the cities of the East. Nothing gives greater power than conduct. "Character," says Ossili, "is higher than intellect."
II. MEN DESPISE THE TRIFLER AND THE IDLER . If the word and the conversation be frivolous; as death and life are in the power of the tongue; then the man who is the rattle-brain of society is not likely to be the ornament of the Church or the admiration of the world. Men will, and ought, to despise such. There may be a dignified youth as well as a dignified age. It is not necessary to have a formal and unnatural decorum, but it is necessary for those who speak on the high matters of religion to show that they live in that world of solemn realities of which they speak.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:14 . — Spiritual negligence.
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee." This is a counsel specially for Timothy as a teacher; but it applies to us all.
I. THE GIFT IS A RESPONSIBILITY . We are not merely receptive beings. A lake, unless the living waters flow through it, is stagnant and dangerous. The world of youth and beauty is a world of life. The sun parts with its beams. The ocean exhales its moisture. The tree yields its fruit. The air passes through the lungs. The river makes music of progress as it passes to the sea. Here in nature there is no arresting hand, no force of self-restraint, no self-hood. God has "set in order" the courses of the rivers, and made a path for the light; and they obey his will. Man can say "No" to God's moral ordinations—not, of course, without harm and penalty; but he can , and too often he does
He turns selfish, and mars the use of his gift by misuse and by personal ease and indulgence. The world is no better for his birth. The Church finds him a selfish epicure at the banquet of God's grace.
II. THE GIFT VARIES . It is , however, somewhere within us. There are forces of life hidden in the soul, gracious gifts of help and healing; but man neglects them. Sometimes he undervalues them with a perilous modesty, which forgets that the weakest vessel can hold some water; the simplest speech be eloquent for its Lord; the slender time be rich with opportunities. God has not made a mistake in our creation. Them are gifts of service, gifts of sympathy, gifts of prayer, which, if envy were angelic, angels might envy. Neglect not thy gift. It will be required of thee again. It needs not age to ripen it and make it ready. "Let no man despise thy youth; be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." "Be great in act as you have been in thought," says Shakespeare. This is our danger—neglect. We know what it means in education, which has its now ; in the dwelling, which, however well furnished, soon becomes unhealthy and unlovely through disuse and dust; in exercise, which, neglected, imperils muscle and blood and nerve. So in religion we are to be active and earnest, not resting on the couch of personal comfort, or merely enjoying, from the observatory of revelation, the vision of the heavenly shores.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:15 . — Mental absorption.
"Meditate upon these things." They need and will bear meditation. Divine truths are too awful and august m their deep significance to be exhausted by superficial notice. They need to be focused to the eye, and studied in all their central depth and beauty.
I. FOR MEDITATION IS THE VERY ATMOSPHERE OF RELIGION . It requires the silent study that we may enjoy "the harvest of a quiet eye," and see deeply into the "wondrous things" of the Divine Law. Meditate; for thus only will you understand your real self, and so know better the adaptation of the gospel to your need and your sin.
II. FOR IN MEDITATION WE ARE STUDYING GOD 'S THOUGHTS ; these require on our part time and insight. This is the fault of our age—it does not meditate. It is superficially critical; apt to fly off at some tangent of mental difficulty; and is so impatient with the key that it injures the lock. We cannot think well in a hurry, any more than we can work well in a hurry. Many of the worst human mistakes of life we should avoid if we meditated more.
"Evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart."
Our prayers would be wider in scope and richer in feeling if we meditated more; and our judgment would not be so hard about the dealings of God with us if we meditated on "the way the fathers trod," and the Divine revelation of our need of discipline. Meditate, and then the cross will stand out in its august significance ; the heart will feel that it needs a Savior as well as a Teacher; and instead of feeling that you know all about that wondrous mystery of Divine provision, you will pray that you, like Paul, may "know the love of Christ," which passeth knowledge. "Meditate on these things." They are pluralized; for they are many. The gospel facts and the gospel doctrines constitute a wide range of subjects affecting alike our temporal and eternal interest.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:15 . — Observation of others.
"That thy profiting may appear to all." The Christian teachings are not like Eleusinian Mysteries; they are revelations to be lived out in the broad daylight of history. A religion that ends in meditation makes the mystic a religion that confines itself to solitudes—makes the ascetic , who shuts himself out from the world.
I. THE PROFITING IS NOT TO BE A MATTER OF MERE FEELING ; or, in other words, is no mere emotionalism that may coexist with lax character and feeble morality. Too often this has been the case, and the Church has been apt to palliate the sins of the fraudulent trader or the bankrupt trustee, if, though he has wronged others and brought whole families to beggary and ruin, he has still preserved his spiritual emotions, his seraphic rhapsodies of expression, and his fervent interest in missionary agencies.
II. THE PROFITING MUST APPEAR IN THE CHARACTER . It must come to the touchstone of action and character. It must energize the conscience, quicken the passive virtues of humility and submission, and brace the will for the stern obedience of the soldier and the faithful obligations of the steward.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:16 .—A dual heed.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine." These two God hath joined together, and let no man put them asunder. Let not self-hood become a self-righteousness, which ignores the doctrine that we need Christ as our Strength and our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier. Taking heed to ourselves must not make us daringly self-confident . Some superficial men think that they can go this warfare on their own charges. The whole amour of God is needful, and not the mere equipment of personal judgment and unaided strength. But taking heed to the doctrine, let us remember that it is not a dead dogma, but that the Christian verities are spirit and life. We must not be hearers for others or critics of others, judging one another, and measuring our own virtue by the shock produced in us at the inconsistencies and failings of others.
I. TAKING HEED TO OURSELVES AS HAVING STILL THE WEAK FLESH TO DEAL WITH . Knowing what war there still is in our members. Knowing that this same gospel says, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Remembering that the richest lives have made shipwreck, and the loftiest monuments been the first to be shattered by the storm. We must remember that the teacher elevated by honor may be the first to fall.
II. TAKING HEED TO OURSELVES , BECAUSE NONE CAN DO THIS FOR US . We know more of ourselves than any other can know. Our tastes, our tendencies, our secret desires, our constitutional weaknesses. We see how the "needle" trembles in the presence of certain loadstones of evil, and we must therefore look within, and he watchful. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:16 . — The life-endurance.
"Continue in them." There must be perseverance or pressing forward. And this is the great point. "Ye did run well" applies to many who were first in the Atlanta race. "That your fruit may remain," said Christ. Permanence. This is beautiful. How many actual blossoms never come to fruit at all! and how much fruit becomes the subject of blight and withering. Young life, like Timothy's, is lovely in its enthusiasm; but—
I. WHAT A WORLD IS BEFORE HIM ! How little he knows yet of the perils of the way! Churches may become corrupt like Ephesus, or divided like Corinth. Demas may desert; Hymenaeus and Philetus may make shipwreck. Opposition may increase. Enemies may multiply. The work may grow harder; and the atmosphere in which it is done grow colder. Continue in them—
II. BECAUSE THIS IS THE TEST OF ALL TRUE HEROISM . The vessel with her freshly painted hull, her gay bunting, her trim sails, her beautiful lines, may float swan-like in the harbor, and then skim the waters like a thing of life. But she is nobler when, with battered sides, and gaping bulwarks, and rent sails, and dismantled rigging, she reaches her destined haven. "Continue in them." The sword may not be so bright with the silvery sheen of newness; the helmet may not be so undinted; the apparel may not be so unstained; but the hero has won the war, fought the good fight, and finished his course.—W.M.S.
1 Timothy 4:16 . — Saving others.
"For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Not, of course, as providing the salvation or applying it; the first is done by the Savior, the second by the Holy Spirit; but in working out the salvation—in making use of all Divine means and instrumentalities.
I. PERSONAL SALVATION . "Save thyself;" for in the heaven-voyage the captain is not to be lost while the company and the crew are saved. In this war the enemy is not to pick off the sentinels and the captains alone. No; Divine grace is sufficient for pastor as well as for people; but it would be a terrible thing—alas! not an unknown thing—that the minister who has taught others, himself should be a castaway. Next follows—
II. THE SALVATION OF OTHERS . "Them that hear thee." A simple word, "hear." The pulpit must not be the place for the airing of personal crotchets, or the use of arrows and shafts of mere wit, or the discussion of mere critical themes. "The things that ye have heard" are such as the apostle defines—august and real, vital and eternal realities. To hear may seem a light thing, and so it is if the message be light. But the true minister does not tremble before his audience, any more than Paul did before Felix. If the congregation be his patron , he may please them to secure his living; if they are his Sanhedrim , he may be heard before them in test of his judgments; if they are his guests, and not the Master's, he may cater for n banquet suited to their tastes; but if he is the minister of God to them for good, if woe is his if he preach not the gospel, if he has the sacred responsibility of one who is put in trust with the gospel,—then hearing is a solemn thing. On that may hang character, influence, destiny. He is not there as lord over God's heritage. He is not there to have dominion over their faith. He appeals to reason, to conscience, and all that we mean by heart and soul. But he does not create a gospel or propound some new philosophy—he is to preach ( 1 Timothy 2:5 , 1 Timothy 2:6 ) "one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus," and yet Christ Jesus the Lord; the God who was "manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ). " And them that hear thee." Ours is a solemn relationship; but it may be a sweet and sublime one too. In the far-away land we may greet each other as victors in the same war, winners of the same race, companions on the same pilgrimage. Saved with the ancient swords stored in the heavenly armory. Saved, with the great sea behind us and Canaan in possession, with sweeter grapes than those of Eshcol, and more triumphant strains of victory than those of Miriam. I say it may be so with us, and with some who have heard and whispered the sacred words to themselves as on the last pillow they went home to God. The very sentence, "them that hear thee," has in it all the pathos of the past, as well as all the realism of the present. The lips that speak are only these of man, but the message is the Word of him who "would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Is it true of us, as we face each other, that we shall see one another again—yea, years to come—and that these words may rise up against preacher, and hearers, or both? Is it true that waiting angels will bear back the message, "This and that man [woman, child] was born there"? The living Church of God is holy ground. Then truly we need no meretricious aids to make our ministry pleasant, or to make the Church harmonize with the age. Eternity will reverse many of the verdicts of time. Much of our judgment now is touched and tarnished with the worldly ideal. The hour is coming when he who said, "Go... and speak in the temple... all the words of this life," will call us all alike into his presence; and then it will be seen and known before God and the holy angels whether we have both saved ourselves and them that heard us.—W.M.S.
I. APOSTASY . "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith." This was to be properly an apostasy, or movement away from Christ from within the Church. Some who were professed believers were to fall away from the faith. They were unworthily to use their Christian position, Christian enlightenment and reputation, against Christ. This was to take place in "later times," not in the times before the completion of the kingdom of God, but simply in times subsequent to the time that then was, not all in one time but, as pointing to more than one anti-Christian development, in times . This was explicitly foretold, the prophecy being traced, not to the consciousness of the apostle, but to the inflatus of the Spirit. The prophecy had already been made known, but we may understand that it was still already witnessed in the consciousness of the apostle. If the mystery of godliness was operating, there was also, as announced in 2 Thessalonians, already operating the mystery of iniquity.
II. HOW THE APOSTASY WAS TO BE BROUGHT ABOUT .
1. Source . "Giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." The apostle points to the apostasy as having its origin from beneath. There is the agency of those who are the tools of the devil. These are seducing spirits, their object being to lead away from Christ. And they are demons, hostile to souls, who give rise to soul-destroying doctrines. This is the quarter from which the apostates are to draw their inspiration and their faith. It has been remarked here how we cannot stand isolated. If we are not influenced by the Holy Spirit, we must fall under the power of one or other—for they are a plurality, and do not agree unless in their end—of the deceiving spirits. If we do not give heed to the doctrine of God our Savior—one and thoroughly consistent as well as sublime—we must give heed to one or other of the doctrines of devils, many and inconsistent.
2. Instrumentality . "Through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron." The evil spirits are to be thought of as working in and through these heretical teachers. They are hidden from our view and from the consciousness of the teachers themselves; but there seems no reason to doubt that those who pay no heed to the leadings of the Spirit of truth lay themselves open to be possessed, in an ordinary way, by one or other of the spirits of falsehood whose instruments they become. The heretical teachers are suitably described as speakers of lies. They were to give forth as truth what were lies—what did not agree with the nature of things, what did not agree with the nature of God, with the facts of human nature, that for which they were without evidence, and of which they had no clear conviction. They were to be like men wearing a mask, laying claim to superior sanctity and to show the way to sanctity, but only to conceal their own turpitude. For they were to be branded in their own conscience, branded as criminals were branded, and branded where the marks of their crimes could not be concealed from themselves.
III. TWO POINTS IN THE HERETICAL TEACHING THAT WAS TO BE THE PRECURSOR OF THE APOSTASY . "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." This asceticism was already appearing in Essenism. The honorable, and even exaggerated, estimate of marriage which was characteristic of the Jew, and of the Pharisee as the typical Jew, found no favor with the Essene. Marriage was to him an abomination. Those Essenes, who lived together as members of an order, and in whom the principles of the sect were carried to their logical consequences, eschewed it altogether. To secure the continuance of their brotherhood, they adopted children, whom they brought up in the doctrines and practices of the community. There were others, however, who took a different view. They accepted marriage as necessary for the preservation of the race. Yet even with them it seems to have been regarded only as an inevitable evil. They fenced it off by stringent rules, demanding a three years' probation, and enjoining various purificatory rites. The conception of marriage as quickening and educating the affections, and thus exalting and refining human life, was wholly foreign to their minds. Woman was a, mere instrument of temptation in their eyes, deceitful, faithless, selfish, jealous, misled and misleading by her passions. But their ascetic tendencies did not stop here. The Pharisee was very careful to observe the distinction of meats lawful and unlawful, as laid down by the Mosaic code, and even rendered those ordinances vexatious by minute definitions of his own. But the Essene went far beyond him. He drank no wine, he did not touch animal food. His meal consisted of a piece of bread and a single mess of vegetables. Even this simple tare was prepared for him by special officers consecrated for the purpose, that it might be free from all contamination. Nay, so stringent were the rules of the order on this point, that, when an Essene was excommunicated, he often died of starvation, being bound by oath not to take food prepared by defiled hands, and thus being reduced to eat the very grass of the field (Lightfoot). In Gnosticism, which came to its full development after the apostle's day, these points had great prominence, being grounded in the idea of matter as being the principle of evil. The same points come out ver remarkably in Roman Catholicism. The ordinance of marriage, which our Lord honored, is thus depreciated in a decree of the Council of Trent: "Whosoever shall say that the married state is to be preferred to a state of virginity or celibacy, and. that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity or celibacy than to be joined in marriage, let him be accursed." In the same line superior sanctity, or special merit, is connected with abstinence from meats. Thus the prophecy received striking fulfillment.
IV. REFUTATION OF THE SECOND POINT IN THE HERETICAL TEACHING .
1. Position to which it is opposed . "Which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth." God has created meats, and he has created them for the use of all. At the same time, it is true that the purpose of creation is only fulfilled in the case of them that believe and know the truth. They alone can appreciate the condition attached to the use of meats, viz. receiving with thanksgiving. "A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this." But those that have experience of the truth as believers are sensible of their mercies, and give God thanks for them.
2. Substantiation .
1 Timothy 4:6-10 . — Guidance of Timothy.
I. AS TO THE TRUE FAITH .
1. Positively . "If thou put the brethren in mind of those things, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which thou hast followed until now." The apostle has been referring more immediately to the principles of asceticism which were to have their development in subsequent times. That Timothy should put the brethren (not excluding holders of office like himself) in mind of these things, was the condition of his being a good minister of Christ Jesus. Whereupon Paul takes occasion to give his idea of "the good minister," under a particular aspect. He is one who makes the Divine words his continual nourishment. As there are foods which are nutritive for the body, so what is nutritive for the soul is what God says to us, especially about himself and his feelings toward us. These Divine words are words of faith, or words which require faith for their apprehension. They are also words of good doctrine, or words in which instruction is given. It is well that there are infallible words for faith, and that we are not left to the unreliable guidance of reason. It is upon these that teaching must be founded, if it can be called good. The good minister is one who has his own soul nourished in words which he cordially believes, and in which he is well instructed. Paul had been the instructor of Timothy, and he testifies that his instructions had hitherto been followed by him.
2. Negatively . "But refuse profane and old wives' fables." The apostle, we may understand, refers to such doctrines of the current philosophy (mystic in its character) as, mingling with Christianity, would form what was known as Gnosticism. These doctrines, such as that of emanations (endless genealogies), were myths, or what had no foundation in reality. They were profane, or fitted to shock religious feeling. They were also anile, or only fit for mindless and credulous old women. Timothy was to resist all tendency to incorporate Eastern mysticism with Christianity. And, when we consider the danger that arose to the Church from this quarter, we must recognize the wisdom of the apostolic advice.
II. AS TO THE HIGHER GYMNASTIC . "And exercise thyself unto godliness." There was a straining in connection with ascetical exercises. Timothy was also to strain himself, but in such exercises as prayer and meditation, which lead to godliness, or the cherishing of right feelings toward God and the practice that is pleasing to him.
1. Bodily gymnastic . "For bodily exercise is profitable for a little." The apostle apparently has in his eye such bodily exercise as was associated with asceticism; but it is as separated from asceticism, not as part of asceticism, that he says it is profitable to a small extent. Of asceticism in this century the most notable example is Lacordaire. "Once in the convent at Chalais, after having delivered an affecting sermon on humility, he felt irresistibly impelled to follow up precept by example. He came down from the pulpit, begged the assembled brethren to treat him with the severity he deserved, and, uncovering his shoulders, received from each of them twenty-five strokes." "The chapter-room of the convent at Flavigny was supported by a wooden pillar; he made of it a column of flagellation, to which, after confession, he would cause himself to be bound." "In the ancient church of the Carmelites at Paris, there is a certain crypt or subterranean chapel, in which, one Good Friday, he raised a cross, and, bound to it with cords, remained upon it three hours." The apostle views asceticism in respect of bodily exercise. For, although it may not always exalt it into a religion, yet it lays great stress on it as a means of suppressing the corruption of the heart, of entering into sympathy with the crucified Savior, and of making atonement for the sins of men. The apostle lays hold upon this, and says that it is profitable to a small extent. It is profitable for the health of the body, for the improvement of its powers, for the obtaining of a living. It may even be allowed to have a bearing, not by itself, but in connection with right principle, on holy living ( 1 Corinthians 9:27 ).
2. The gymnastic that is universally profitable . "But godliness is profitable far all things." The apostle regards it as recommended by its profitableness. "It is that which will exceedingly turn to account, and bring in gains unto us exceedingly vast; in comparison whereto all other designs, which men with so much care and toil do pursue, are very unprofitable or detrimental, yielding but shadows of profit or bringing real damage to us. Godliness enables a man to judge of things in their true nature and proportions, and to fulfill his duties in all his relations. It enables him to act uniformly, so that he understands what he is doing, and can make himself understood. It enables a man to act in his own best interest." "If we mark what preserveth the body sound and lusty, what keepeth the mind vigorous and brisk, what saveth and improveth the estate, what upholdeth the good name, what guardeth and graceth a man's whole life—it is nothing else but proceeding in our demeanor and dealings according to the honest and wise rules of piety." It fits a man for all conditions, makes him humble, grateful, and faithful in prosperity, makes a man trustful, and full of comfort in adversity. It furnishes us with fit employment, " alone fasteneth our thoughts, affections, and endeavors upon occupations worthy the dignity of our nature, suiting the excellency of our natural capacities and endowments, tending to the perfection and advancement of our reason, to the enriching and ennobling of our souls." It furnishes us with the best friendships. It is said even, "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." It unites us to good men in holy communion. It makes our friends doubly precious to us.
III. UPBEARING HOPE . "For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe." With a view especially to the promised life to come, the apostle placed himself at worldly disadvantage. Instead of consulting his ease, he toiled. Instead of consulting his popularity, he suffered reproach, as the true reading is. Under this he was borne up by hope, which was set, not on a dead idol which could do nothing, but on the living God who could do all things for him. He who was able to fulfill his promise was also disposed. He is designated "the Savior of all men." There is a universality in his benevolence. He willeth that all should be saved. And what he has performed in Christ has been for all men. He has provided satisfaction for the sin of all men. He has entered into a covenant on behalf of all men. He has procured competent aids for all men. He has thus made all men salvabiles , capable of salvation, and salvandos , that should be saved, though all men are not in effect saved. "As he that freely offers a rich boon is no less to be accounted a benefactor and liberal, although his gift be refused, than if it were accepted; as he that opens a prison is to be styled a deliverer, although the captive will not go forth; as he that ministers an effectual remedy, although the patient will not use it, deserves the honor and thanks due to a physician; so is God, in respect of what he has performed for men and offered to them, to be worthily deemed and thankfully acknowledged Savior, although not all men, yea, although not one man, should receive the designed benefit." While this is true, he is the Savior specially of them that believe. He is our Savior before we believe, but it is when we believe that we realize in our personal experience all that he is and has done for us. It is by hoping in him as our Savior, peculiarly, that we are borne up under toils and reproaches.—R.F.
1 Timothy 4:11-16 . — Directions to Timothy.
I. DIRECTION FOUNDED ON PRECEDING CONTEXT . "These things command and teach." What was enjoined on him he was to hold up before the community over which he presided at Ephesus. He was to command, or hold up before them, an authoritative standard of conduct. This was to be characteristically godliness ; not a working on the mere human ground, but a bringing God into connection with the life, cherishing proper feelings towards him, and observing his rules. He was also to teach, or hold up before them, revealed views of truth. While laying down faith as the condition of salvation, he was not to forget to set forth God as the Savior of all men.
II. DIRECTION WITH REFERENCE TO HIS YOUTH . "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity." Timothy was a youth, still living with his parents, when Paul first took him as his companion. After the lapse of perhaps fifteen years, he is still regarded as a young man. We may understand that he was still young for the work entrusted to him; he was young to instruct, and, it might be, to exhort ( 1 Timothy 5:1 ) elders (many of them old men). A young minister is placed in the same position; he has to speak to men whose experience goes far beyond his. He has in this respect a difficult position to fill, and it becomes him to consider well the course he takes, and, if need be, to take counsel of more experienced men in the ministry, so that he shall have thus the gravity of years, and shall give none occasion to despise him on account of his youth. The idea of a minister is that he is to be an ensample to them that believe, especially to them over whom he is placed. There are five things in which he is to lead the way. The first two go together. There is the external life of word . A minister is to have the right tone in his private utterances (what seem principally to be referred to as public utterances are introduced in the next verse); he is to be able to direct the minds of others away from trifles to important matters. There is also the external life of deed . His actions are to go along with his words; he is to give direction by the very way in which he acts. Word and deed reveal the inner life, the motive forces of which are next expressed. There is the motive force of love . He is impelled by love for an unseen Savior, and for souls purchased by him. There is also the motive force of faith . He is impelled by what faith reveals, viz. a Master to whom he is responsible, whose honor he is to be careful of, whose reward for faithfulness he is earnestly to covet. Thus moved in his inner being, then, as the fifth and last thing, his life is characterized by purity . He does not receive the contamination of the world, but a pervading holy influence from a source above the world. The young minister who seeks to go before his people in these five things is taking the right plan of placing himself above being despised for his youth.
III. DIRECTION AS TO HIS USE OF THE SCRIPTURES . "Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching." Timothy was not so much a resident minister as Paul's assistant, which involved his moving from place to place. The special arrangement by which he presided over the central Church of Ephesus was to continue in force until Paul's arrival, which was expected at no distant date. Meantime he was to give his attention to his public duties. There was first of all the reading of the Scriptures . This was carried down from the Jewish synagogue, in which the Old Testament Scriptures were regularly read. And the Christian Church, in the lifetime of the apostles, being under infallible guidance, we can understand that parts of the New Testament would gradually be introduced into the Christian sanctuary. This public reading of the Scriptures served a purpose then beyond what it does now. There were very few copies of the sacred Books to be obtained then. Members of Churches were, therefore, to a great extent, dependent for their Bible knowledge on what was publicly read. Meetings would require to be frequent, and a large place in these meetings would require to be given to mere reading, in order that the people might become familiar with the exact language of Scripture. With reading was associated exhortation and teaching . We are to understand this as being on the basis of what was read. "Scripture is the fountain of all wisdom, from which pastors ought to draw whatever t hey bring before their flock" (Calvin). There was exhortation to duty , or an appeal to the feelings, conscience, to influence men to be decided for Christ, and to keep closely by the Law of Christ. And there was teaching of truth , or the opening up of Scripture in its facts and principles, to show especially what Christ was and had effected for them. It was possible to combine the hortatory and instructive , though at one time attention would be directed more to appeals , at another time more to explanations .
IV. DIRECTION AS TO THE USE OF HIS GIFT . "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying-on of the hands of the presbytery." There is reference to his ordination, which probably took place years before he was assigned his present work in Ephesus. At that interesting time the ministerial gift, or the power of governing and the power of handling the Word, was imparted to him. Not that he was altogether without qualification before; for there were prophecies going before on him, apparently founded on the proof that he was making of himself. But then, in all its authoritativeness, and in the fullness of the qualification in a special influence of the Spirit, the gift was imparted to him. There were two coexistent circumstances which entered into the ordination. The first was extraordinary in its nature, viz. prophecy, or any inspired utterance. Apparently it amounted to an intimation to the assembled congregation that Timothy was really called, and there and then fully endowed. The second concomitant, or circumstance entering into the ordination, was the laying-on of the hands of the presbytery. This was ordinary, and therefore continues to be connected with ordination, prophecy being represented by the ordination prayer and address. The presbytery then apparently consisted of the elders of the particular congregation in 'connection with which the ordination took place. As we learn from the Second Epistle, Paul was associated with them. It is to be noted that ruling elders took part in ordaining a teaching elder. The imposition of hands is symbolic of the impartation of a gift. Christ employs those who have been themselves gifted by him to be the medium of imparting his gift to others. The ministerial gift Timothy was not to neglect or to allow to be unused. We have read of fishes inhabiting the water of a dark cave that, never needing to use their eyes, eventually, after successive generations of them, a modification has been produced in their organism. And there not being the need, nature has ceased to make provision for it, the strange spectacle being presented of an eyeless race. So, for want of use, pleading for Christ would become a lost gift to him.
V. DIRECTION AS TO HIS APPLYING HIMSELF . "Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all." Paul had not the idea that a communication of the Holy Spirit superseded application. After saying that the gift in Timothy was not to lie unused, he now says that he was to be diligent in these things, viz. in the duties of his calling, as set down in the thirteenth verse. And, in the way of strengthening this, he adds that he was to give himself wholly to them. A minister has to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the meaning of Scripture, in order that he may open it to others. He has to know how to apply Scripture truth to the wants of his people, that he may incite them to right action. This he cannot well do along with the demands of a secular business. He needs to have his whole time to devote to it, and he needs, in the time that he has, to put out to purpose his whole strength. Close application will soon tell. His profiting will appear in a more skilful handling of the Word, in a more earnest pleading with souls.
VI. RECAPITULATION WITH ENFORCEMENT . "Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee." He first recapitulates what was said in 1 Timothy 4:12 . "Take heed to thyself." A minister is to take heed to himself, that he is really a subject of saving grace, that he is making satisfactory increase in grace, that his conduct does not run counter to his teaching. He next recapitulates what is said in 1 Timothy 4:13 . "And to thy teaching." A minister is to see that he makes every endeavor to bring out the meaning of the Word of God, and to bring it to bear upon the wants of his hearers. Having thus recapitulated, he makes it stronger by adding, "Continue in these things," viz. in his private and public exercises. And a minister is encouraged to do this by the consideration that, in doing this, he shall save the souls of them that hear him. He shall reach his end; and what a felicity to be the means, under God, of saving souls! He can only expect to do this by exacting from himself a high standard of living and of preaching. And, through this, he shall reach the end of his own salvation. He has to win or lose, as well as his hearers. "And many shall say at that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name?" who shall be answered with, "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." He has the same evil heart to contend with. "Sin dwelleth in us when we have preached never so much against it; one degree prepareth the heart for another, and one sin inclineth the mind to more." He may expect to be more severely tempted than others, as the honor of Christ lies more on him than on others.—R.F.