1 Timothy 4:7
But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself rather to godliness.
I. I am to show WHAT THIS HEART EXERCISE UNTO GODLINESS IS.
1. It pre-supposeth a man to be truly godly. That professor or minister that is not godly can never exercise himself to godliness. It is impossible to act without a principle of acting, and exercise doth naturally require a power of it. He can never exercise himself to running, that wants feet to run with; or to wrestling, who wants arms; nor the ungodly exercise themselves to godliness; on the contrary, "an heart they have exercised with covetous practices."
2. Making religion our business. In this the apostle gave himself a pattern to us. "Herein," says he, "do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence, toward God and toward men." Godliness should be our great work, how to advance it in ourselves and others. Now we will make religion our business, if we take it not only by fits and starts, but make it our daily work, as men exercise themselves in their callings.
3. It imports a vigorous following of it, as wrestlers and runners ply their work vigorously. To be a little more particular, I will touch at four things.
(1) We should exercise ourselves to the knowledge of these things pertaining to godliness, that we may be full of eyes, and "by reason of use, have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil."(2) We should be exercised in combating the lusts of our hearts, beginning the war against the devil at home. Like Paul, "we should keep our bodies under, and bring them into subjection; lest that by any means, when we have preached to others, we ourselves should be castaways."(3) We should be exercised to the performing of our duties, and that in a spiritual manner.
(4) We should be exercised in the life of faith, without which, in vain will we attempt the other parts of the exercise of godliness.
II. TO SHOW THE NECESSITY OF THE EXERCISE OF THE HEART UNTO GODLINESS, TO MAKE A GOOD MINISTER.
1. It is necessary to make a man faithful in his work, and to cause him to take God for his party, with whom he hath to do.
2. It is necessary to give a man a sense of the weight of the work, and the worth of souls, without which he cannot be a good minister (2 Corinthians 5:9, 10). It is a weighty work.
3. It is very necessary to fit a man to suffer for truth.
4. It is most necessary to fit us for the performance of the several duties of our calling, whether in preaching, administering the sacraments, visiting families, or the sick.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.