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Mystery of godliness.
1 TIMOTHY IV.
Apostacy from the truth. thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave || latter times some will fall away from the thyself in the house of God, which is the church | faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits, and to of the living God, the pillar and support of the doctrines concerning demons; Through Through the 2 And, confessedly great is this mystery hypocrisy of liars, of those whose conscience of godliness, which is, that God was manifest is seared with a hot iron; Who will forbid 3 in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen of to marry, and command to abstain from angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on meats, which God hath created to be parin the world, and taken up into glory. taken of with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every 4 creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanks giving: For it is sanctified by the word 5 of God and prayer. If thou state these 6
A. D. 65. He foretelleth the great apostacy from the purity of christian doctrine and worship; he gives various precepts of duty to Timothy.
1 Now the Spirit saith expressly that, in the
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER III. 1. The teachers of others, those who preside in the highest offices which Christ has appointed in his church, may here learn both their duty and their dignity. In engaging in the pastoral office they have engaged in a good, excellent, and honourable work; and to secure usefulness and respect, they must possess suitable gifts and graces, and exercise them with diligence. They should be men of sound religious experience, and not new converts, lest they should be puffed up with pride, and by their ignorance, or arrogance, bring their office, and religion itself, into disgrace. In their behaviour they must show a noble generosity, be hospitable and kind, and gain the good opinion of those who are yet without the pale of the church. Influenced by proper motives only, they should despise filthy lucre; nor should they indulge in the least intemperance. If If deacons are to be free from the vices mentioned, and to do as recom mended; much more ought christian pastors? While they are allowed to form the closest earthly connexion, and to enjoy the pleasures of the domestic circle, they are to govern well their own households. By thus living they will adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, and will be accepted of him.
2. If the officers of the church are to be men of approved piety and gifts, so should the members of it, that they may know how to value their labours, and to encourage them in their work. Every christian should be grave, not double-tongued, holding the mystery of the faith` with a pure conscience. And even the women who instruct others, or perform any christian office, must be grave, sober, and faithful in all things. All should know how to behave themselves in the house or family of God; conducting themselves as his adopted sons and daughters. Let them ever remember that they are the church, the called assembly of the living God; and by their knowledge and profession, they are collectively the pillar and support of all gospel truth. They are the light of the world; and their light ought so to shine, that others may be enlightened and enlivened by it. be enlightened and enlivened by it. But especially are they to believe and maintain the great mystery of godliness, "That God was manifest in the flesh," dwelt among men, suffered in the flesh, bearing the sins of many; that his human nature was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit, and being preached to the nations, was believed on, though now taken up to glory. Let us adore this mystery of love and grace; and place all our confidence in our glorious Lord for salvation.
these societies, so as to promote its order, peace, and prosperity.—The pil=
"Great is the mystery of godliness which was manifest in the flesh, &c." a mode of speaking unknown to Paul, and not very intelligible. Or if we were to admit a colon, and render, "Confessedly great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifest in the flesh, &c." In this case there is an evident want of coherence. We expect something which may support the former assertion; and the common reading affords it; but this evidently leaves the mind in suspense and doubt. Is there any mystery in the fact, that Jesus appeared as a man, that he wrought miracles, &c? Were not the prophets men, and did not they work miracles, &c.? I conceive, indeed, in this view there is something peculiar; and that the language implies previous existence. It is not usual to describe the birth of a man, by saying that he was "manifest in the flesh." This language is of frequent recurrence in reference to Christ, and to him only. But judging by the authority of mss. &c. the preponderance in favour of the common reading is great. No change of the received text, made by this eminent critic, has appeared to me less supported ; and I conceive nothing but his unsupported hypothesis of an Alexandrine recension could have led him to this conclusion. See, for the received text, Lawrence on Griesb.
CHAP. IV. 1. The Spirit saith, &c. Reveals it to me, that, though the church is the "pillar and support of the truth," yet in latter times some, many, but not all, will fall away, &c.- -To deceitful spirits. To false prophets, pretending to divine inspiration and authority.—Concerning demons. The
things to the brethren, thou wilt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of the faith and of that good doctrine, to which thou hast attained.all to zelo 7 But reject profane and old women's fables; 8 and exercise thyself unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little but godliness is profitable for all things, having a promise of the life which now is, and of that which 9 is to come. This is a faithful saying, and 10 worthy the acceptance of all. For on this ac count we both labour and suffer reproach, be •cause we trust in the living God, who is the Sa viour of all men, but especially of those that
REFLECTIONS, UPON CHAPTER IV. 1. What is here so expressly stated, has been literally and exactly accomplished. The great apostacy of the latter days, hath been made manifest; many, while professing the name of Christ, have fallen from the faith, and given heed to the deceitful, seducing spirits of wicked men, and to doctrines, concerning demons. The souls of departed men have been canonized, and ignorant persons have been taught to pray to them, as mediators, to the dishonour of Jesus, the one only mediator between God and men. The doctrines respecting them have been zealously propogated, and that of Christ neglected and forgotten. Surely this has come to pass through the hypocrisy of liars, of those whose consciences are seared, and whom God hath given up to their own lusts and iniquities. Men have dared to oppose the law and will of God, and have forbidden what he has sanctioned and blessed. Marriage has been forbidden, while fornication, adultery, and even incest have been allowed, to those who could pay a stipulated sum to the head of the church. Meats have been forbidden, and to partake of them considered as mortal sin, though allowed to be enjoyed in moderation by the bountiful Creator. Let every minister of Jesus Christ state these things; and let those who enjoy freedom from the corrupt church, improve their advantages
Duty of a minister.
believe. These things give in charge and teach. 11 Let no man despise thy youth; but be 12 thou an example to the believers, in word, in discourse, in hope, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to read- 13 ing, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not 14 the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the putting on of the hands of the elders. Meditate upon these 15
things; give thyself wholly to them: that thy improvement may appear to all. Take 16 heed to thyself, and to thy doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself, and those that hear thee.
to the glory and honour of God, by cultivating superior knowledge, and purity in their conduct and practice.
2. How great are the advantages attending true piety and godfiness. Some give up themselves to toils and labours of the severest kind, to attain the riches and honours of this world, and neglect the one thing needful; and suppose they succeed, what is the amount of their gain? What is the nature of it? It can profit only for a little time. But godliness is profitable for all things, for advancing all our interests, whether temporal or spiritual; for God hath inseparably connected with it, the promise of the present and of our future life. In our difficulties let us then trust in him to preserve us, who is the Saviour and preserver of men, as to the present state: but especially is the Saviour, in the highest sense, of those who believe. With such promises let ministers be encouraged, that they may become examples to others in word, in discourse, love, faith, and purity. Let them cultivate their gifts, that their improvement may appear to all; and that all may enjoy the benefit of it. How concerned should every one be as to his own personal piety, and as to his doctrine, to continue sound in the one, and constant in the practice of the other; and then he may hope to be saved and to be the instrument of saving others.
worship of angels, and the spirits of departed reputed saints, men and women.
2. Hypocrisy, &c. Such doctrines will be propagated under the hypocritical pretence of humility, and greater holiness, by lying teachers, whose consciences are seared, and who will adopt every method of imposing on and enslaving the people.
-3-5. Who forbid to, &c. As if it would be a sin, especially to the ministers of the gospel; a doctrine opposed to nature and the authority of God. To abstain, &c. Of particular kinds, and at particular seasons, prétending to fast two days every week, and during Lent. How literally true have subsequent events proved this prediction. See Mede and Newton.
6. State these things, c. Concerning the corrupt doctrines which will arise and be maintained both in the Roman and Greek churches, and concerning the lawfulness of all sorts of food, thou wilt be, &c.
7. Profane and old, &c. Not only Jewish fables, but those which lying teachers invent about the worship of angels and saints, and the miracles ascribed to them and their relics, &c.; but rather exercise thyself as to what promotes real godliness.
8. Profiteth little. Whatever mortification men endure, as the athletics do, to obtain a fading honour, is of little advantage even here, &c.—A promise, &c. Mark x. 30. Rom. viii. 28. Hebr. xii. 5, 6. Good men are under God's special care, have peace of mind, and reliance on God here, and the hope of future life and blessedness.
9-11. Worthy of, &c. See Ch. i. 15.-Saviour of all, &c. In his providence, providing for and preserving all; but especially us christians, amidst the many dangers to which we are ever exposed; and these things give thou in charge, and teach to the faithful.
12. Let no one, &c. Give no one cause to despise it, but be thou an example to the, &c.
14. The gift that is, &c. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, given thee agreeably to the predictions of christian prophets. Ch. i. 18.—Hands of the elders. Paul asserts that the gift was bestowed by him, (2 Tim. i. 6.) but from this we collect that other elders, pastors, or bishops joined in setting Timothy apart to the work of an evangelist.
16 Those that hear thee. By a wise and faithful discharge of the duties
Pious widows to be supported.
II TIMOTHY VI
A. D 65. Rules to be observed in reproving; on christian widows; pr
vision to be made for elders, &c.
REBUKE not severely an aged man, but exhort him as a father, an and the younger 2 men as brethren; The aged women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all 3 purity. Support widows that are widows in4 deed. But if any widow have children or grand-children, let these learn first to show piety in supporting their own household, and then to requite their parents: for this 5 is acceptable before God. Now she who is a widow indeed, and left alone, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and 6 prayers night and day: But she that rioteth But she that rioteth 7 in pleasure is dead while she liveth. These things also give in charge, that they may be 8 blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse 9 than an unbeliever. Let not a widow be taken into the number of deaconesses, under sixty years old, having been the wife of one 10 husband, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have
of thy office, thou wilt secure thy own happiness, and be the honoured instrument of saving others.
CHAP. V. 1, 2. An aged man. With Doddridge, I refer this, not to an elder or bishop, but to a person of advanced age, the primitive sense of the word, because it is contrasted with the younger, in respect both to men and
3, 4. Support. By the contributions of the church; but if any widow, &c.- To show piety, &c. The opposition between "their own household," and requiting their parents, makes it certain that the apostle refers to supporting or providing for them. Their own wives and children clain their first regard, and if they can do it, then they should support their needy parents. 5-8. A widow indeed. Such as I referred to, verse 3, is one left alone, having no children or relatives able and willing to support her: one truly pious, who trusteth in God, aud manifests a serious disposition, continuing in religious exercises, and teaching others; but the widow who is in good cir. cumstances and liveth in pleasure, is dead to all sense of religion, and cannot be expected to teach the younger of her own sex.——————) -His own. Poor rela tions, and especially for his own household and family, "he hath denied the faith," hath renounced the doctrine of Christ, by his practice, and is worse than untaught heathen...
9, 10. Into the number, &c. Of those supported and employed by the church, to teach children or younger women, and to wait on and entertain christian brethren.- -Of one husband. That is at a time. Women could divorce their husbands; and those who did, usually married often, and in reality had more than one.If she have, &c. One who in time past, and 3 c 2
The younger to marry, &e.
lodged strangers, if she have washed the feet! of the saints, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work! But the younger widows reject: for 11 when they grow weary of the restraint of Christ, they desire to marry; Having con- 12 demnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And at the same time they learn 13 to be idle also, going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I command therefore that the 14 younger women marry, bear children, guide their household, and give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some 15 women have already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman who believeth have 16 widows, let such relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve those that are widows indeed.
when in better circumstances, having already been employed by the church, in piously bringing up and educating children, lodging strangers, &c.
11-13. Reject. As deaconesses.Restraint of Christ. That restraint, which the services done for and on account of Christ, above stated, requires. Condemnation, &c. Because by marrying, and in many instances, heathens, they renounce the faith of Christ, and incur condemnation. Idle also, Sc... Not employing themselves usefully, but defaming those they have forsaken, as is usually the case with apostates. **
14-16. I command, &c. See Ch. ii. 8. Marry rather than expose them selves to temptations and apostacy; and having married in the Lord, or a christian, that they bear children, &c.Adversary. Any heathen or unbeliever. After Satan. Have renounced their christian profession, and again live as heathens.—Have widows, &c. That is, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, or sisters, who are poor widows, and he or she be able to support them, let them do it, &c.- That are widows indeed, that have none to take care of or support them.
to 7:17-19. Elders who preside, &c. Elders here must be considered the same as bishops, of whom, in most of the churches, there were several. Comp. Acts xx. 17, 28, and 1 Peter v. 1, &c. The term "bishop," only occurs five times, and is once applied to Christ. 1 Peter ii. 25. It is never joined with elder; but when it is mentioned, bishop is omitted; and when the bishop is named, nothing is said of elder, which proves that the terms are used of the same officer. Paul, Ch. iii, 1, &c. only mentions bishops and deacons; and of course the elders here mean the bishops or pastors. And as there were several, some might be better qualified to preside in the church than others, and 387
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, 20 but before two or three witnesses. Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also 21 may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Put thy hands hastily on no man; and partake not in the sins of others: keep thy23 self pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine, on account of thy stomach and 24 thy frequent infirmities. The sins of some men are manifest, going before to judgment; 25 but those of others follow after. In like
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER V. 1. How important is the 1. How important is the advice here given to the various classes of the religious community! Ministers are taught how they ought to administer reproof. Not with anger should they rebuke any; but to state the fault with impartiality, and exhort the offender to repent and reform, with mildness, pity and love. Respect should be had to age, to the sex and condition of individuals. Children are admonished to love and support, when in their power, their needy aged parents. And if we have a due sense of our obligations to them, for supporting us in infancy, for instructing us in childhood, and counselling and guiding us in youth, we shall most readily and gratefully do all we can, to comfort and sooth them amidst the growing infirmities of their declining years. Churches are taught what is their duty to those members who are left in a destitute condition. They should afford them suitable relief, and thus show to the world, that they love one another, not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Parents are reminded that the gospel requires the assiduous discharge of their relative duties; and to neglect providing for their children by honest industry, would be to act in direct opposition to the doctrines of Christ, and even to the feelings of nature.
2. The female sex are taught how they should conduct themselves as believers in Christ. It is right for them to marry; but they should marry in the Lord; and if they have children, it is their duty to teach them and bring them up in the nurture and doctrine of the Lord. Let them remember, that the lessons taught and the impressions made on their minds in early life, are generally the most lasting, and exert an influence over them in maturer years. And if it be in their power,
such would deserve and receive sufficient support.- —4gainst an elder, &c. Timothy, as an evangelist, was above these elders, bishops, or pastors; but he was to treat them with respect, and not to listen to idle reports against them.
20. Those that sin, &c. Whether elders or others, on the testimony of sufficient witnesses, rebuke before all, &c.
21. Elect angels. Those holy angels who kept their first estate, and who minister to the heirs of salvation.
22. Put thy hands, &c. In appointing him to the office of deacon or pastor, lest by so doing thou should be a partaker in his sins, &c. Keep thyself pure. 2 Tim. ii. 22.
23. Drink no longer, &c. Paul knew Timothy's great abstinence and mortification; and gives him this hint lest his health should be injured.
Duty of believing servants.
manner the good, works of some are inanifest beforehand; and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.
let them be hospitable and charitable; and then may they expect, should their lives be protracted to old age, that they will receive the kind attentions of others, while by their knowledge and christian experience they may afford to younger females the best advice and instruction. Let such as are early left widows guard against the vices the apostle condemns. Let them not give the reins to their passions, and make shipwreck of their faith; much less should they become the pests of society, by going about from house to house, retailing news and scandal. Such conduct in either sex is reproachful, and dishonourable to the christian name.
3. The duty of a people and of individuals, to such as preside over them, and admonish them, as labour among them in the word, and in teaching, is so reasonable in itself, that if it were not enjoined by divine authority, the discharge of it would be obligatory. If men devote their time and talents for the advantage of others, they may justly claim from them, an honourable maintenance and support; and wherever the gospel influences the heart, a man will freely contribute to support that ministry by which his own edification and comfort are so greatly promoted. And assuredly such will be cautious in believing any report injurious to the character of a pastor, as this would excite prejudices and obstruct the success of the gospel preached. While hearers are called to discharge their duty, preachers are to maintain the purity of the church, by boldly rebuking profligate sinners; yet taking care to do nothing by partiality, but keeping themselves pure, as being under the eye of God their Father, and of the Lord Jesus their Saviour, before whose judgment-seat they and all men must stand.
24, 25. The sins of some, &c. Are open and known to men; but other men sin so secretly that their sins will not be known to men before the final judgment -Those that are, &c. Those good works which are carefully concealed cannot be hidden, that is, in the last day!
CHAP. VI. 1, 2. Servants as, &c. Such as were servants or slaves to unbelievers, show all fidelity and bonour to their masters, and not imagine that they are free from civil obligations, and thus occasion the name of God and the gospel to be reproached. And let such as have believing masters, serve them willingly on this account, and not despise them, as if their being disciples of Christ, destroyed their civil pre-eminence and right. No; let them serve them more cheerfully, as they may expect from such masters kinder
The sinful love of money.
Good confession of Christ.
But do thou, O man of God, flee these 11 things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight 12 the good fight of faith; lay hold on everlasting life, to which thou hast been called, and hast confessed a good confession before many witnesses. I charge thee in the sight 13 of God, who giveth life to all, and in the sight of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, That 14 thou keep this command so as to be without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in its proper 15 time he will show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwel- 16 ling in that light to which no man can approach; whom no man hath seen, nor see: to whom be everlasting honour and dominion. Amen.
I TIMOTHY them serve the more willingly, because they who enjoy the benefit are believers and be3 loved. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to god4 liness; But who is puffed up with pride, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whence cometh envy, contention, evil-speakings, wicked surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thy6 self. But godliness with contentment is great 7 gain. For we we brought nothing into this world; and it is certain that we can carry 8 nothing out. And having food and raiment, 9 with these let us be content. But they that But they that will be rich fall into temptation and snare, and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and 10 perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some have coveted, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Charge those that are rich in this world, 17 not to be high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; To do good, to 18 be rich in good works, ready to distribute,
3-5. Sound words, &c. According to the will of Christ now revealed, and to the doctrine of the gospel in general.—Who is puffed up, &c. The apostle seems to have his eye on the Jewish teachers, who introduced disputes about the law and customs of their fathers. Titus i. 10. While zealous to make proselytes, they were mercenary; seeking gain, as their godliness. Such persons are really ignorant of the nature of gospel-truth, mere doters or sick-brained, supposing that their low and foolish opinions are of the greatest importance; whereas they only pervert and occasion unnecessary, and often acrimonious and uncharitable strifes and contentions. Even good men have but too frequently fallen into the evil here mentioned; and, when agreed as to the main points of truth, have eagerly contended about the words, in which they should be expressed, to the reproach of the sacred cause. And from these strifes about words, have not evil-speakings, wicked surmisings, and many other evils resulted? Let christians rather cultivate kindness, meekness, and love, than spend their time, and employ their talents in so unprofitable a
6. But godliness, &c. There is a sense in which this opinion is true; as godliness now enriches its possessor with many spiritual blessings, and with the hope of future happiness, so it inspires with submission to providence.
7-10. We brought nothing, &c. Whatever we attain and possess here we must assuredly leave; and having food, &c.- But they that will, &c. Who are wholly bent on riches, and avail themselves of all methods of acquiring them, naturally fall into temptations and snares; and in the enjoyment of them into many foolish desires, which drown, &c.- -Love of money, &c. The passion for wealth leads to many evils; and some christians have found it so, as by this they have erred from the faith, from the purity both of christian
doctrine and practice; and if they have at last seen their errors, and repented of their sins, they have been pierced through with many sorrows. Riches are called uncertain, because they may be taken from their possessors by violence, or lost by unforeseen events and misfortunes; and at best must, in a little time, be left to others. How proper then is the advice, not to trust in them; and still equally so for both rich and poor to trust in the living God, who is the allsufficient, and never-failing source of happiness.
11. Man of God. The prophets were so called, and here and 2 Tim. iii. 17, it is applied to Timothy and other teachers, as ministers of the gospel. They are to show themselves such by following righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and patience; and by holding fast what they have attained, against all opposition.
12. Fight the good, &c. Maintain the faith or doctrines of the gospel courageously against all opposers; and not fight as wrestlers do, but run as those engaged in a race and lay hold of everlasting life, as the glorious prize. -Many witnesses. When you were set apart to the ministry.
13-16. Before Pontius Pilate. He confessed himself Messiah king of the Jews, (John xviii. 37,) as he had done before to Caiaphas. Matt. xxvi. 63, 64.- -This command. Of confessing the good confession to the end of life, and contribute to maintain it in the world until the coming of Christ.—He will show, &c. Some refer what follows to the Father, but Doddridge and others to our Lord Rev, xix 16.
17-19. Charge them, &c. This is kind toward them, as they are in danger of pride, and of trusting to their riches; but to be liberal and rich in works of charity, is to lay up a good foundation, something better to confide in, as an evidence of faith, in a dying hour, that they may lay hold of eternal life.