Reject a divisive man after a first and second admonition,
A man that is an heretic after a first and second admonition avoid.
I. THE TRUE NATURE OF HIS OFFENSE.
1. It is not a case of fundamental or doctrinal error, such as the words "heretic" and "heresy" came to imply in after-ages. Yet it is a mistake to suppose that separatist ways are not caused by divergences of judgment on some points from the settled belief of the Christian community.
2. It was a case of a turbulent sectary, dissatisfied with the Church, who withdrew from her communion to the disturbance of her peace. He would try to justify his course by a difference of opinion upon matters of doctrine, worship, or organization.
II. THE METHOD OF DEALING WITH THE OFFENDER.
1. He was to receive two admonitions in succession. He was to be twice warned not to pursue his divisive courses; he was not to be contended with, but rebuke was to be employed to recover him from his error.
2. His pride or his ambition would not allow him to yield to admonition, he was to be, not excommunicated - the course adopted by the apostle himself in another case (1 Timothy 1:20); but simply avoided. There must be no intercourse with him. This was a virtual excommunication, for he no longer held the place of a Christian brother.
III. THE JUSTIFICATION OF THIS METHOD. "Knowing that he that is such is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned." The case is an utterly hopeless one. You must have done with the divisive sectary; let him alone.
1. For he is perverted; implying an inward corruption of character, which steels him against all official admonition of the Church.
2. He sinneth. He errs knowingly, for his course has been authoritatively condemned by the messenger of God.
3. He is self-condemned. This does not mean that he consciously acts a part he knows to be wrong, but that he has condemned himself by his own practice, practically consenting by his separation that he is unworthy the fellowship of the Church, and thus justifying the Church in its rejection of him, or that he stands condemned by the Scriptures which he himself accepts as his rule of faith and life. - T.C.
An heretic...rejectI. HERESY IS NOT AN UNSOUND OPINION, BUT AN UNSOUND LIFE. A man may hold an erroneous opinion, and hold it sincerely; but the word used here denotes one who seeks to promote discord in the Church (See Romans 16:17).
II. HERESY IS TO BE DEALT WITH FIRMLY, BUT GENTLY.
1. Firmly — by admonition.
2. Gently — by repeated admonitions.
III. HARDENED HERETICS ARE TO BE REJECTED.
1. But this only applies to exclusion from Church fellowship.
2. It is no warrant for persecution.
3. Excluded heretics are to be deemed objects of pity.
1. The persons against whom Titus is to deal — here called heretics.
2. The direction how he is to behave himself towards them — reject them.
3. The orderly manner of proceeding, after once or twice admonition.The latter verse containeth the reason of this severity, because such persons are incurable and incorrigible; which is proved by two arguments.
1. Such a one is subverted, that is, turned or cast off the foundation.
2. He sinneth against his own conscience, being damned of his own self, that is, he wittingly and willingly spurneth against that truth of which his conscience is by the former admonition convinced.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)Acts 28:22. I shall mention but one text more, and that is, "For there must also be heresies among you," etc. (1 Corinthians 11:19). The evident design of which is, that considering the various tempers of men, their different views, passions, prejudices, their selfishness, ambition, vanity, and the like, it was natural to expect that they would divide into parties about religion, as well as about politics, and the civil affairs of life; and that the providence of God wisely permitted this for the trial of their integrity, and to distinguish the indolent, careless, and insincere from the real friends of truth, persons of an honest, inquisitive, and ingenuous temper. Now, according to this account, the general notion of a heretic is no more than this, viz., one that sets up to be the head, or chooses to join himself to a particular religious sect. I say who makes this the matter of his choice because it is implied in the original signification of the word; and, besides, nothing can be supposed to have any concern with religion but what is a voluntary action. A heretic, therefore, in a bad sense, must be one who knowingly espouses a false doctrine, is insincere in his profession, and asserts and defends what he is convinced is contrary to Christianity, and, consequently, one who maintains and supports the interest of a faction, to serve some base designs. According to St. Paul's account in the text, a heretic is not only subverted or turned aside from the true faith, he not only entertains wrong sentiments of Christianity, but sinneth, i.e., doth this wilfully, and with an ill attention. He is one that makes religion a cloak for his immoralities, and espouses and propagates what he knows to be false, to promote the ends of his ambition, covetousness, or sensual pleasure; who, indeed, thinks it his interest to retain the name of a Christian, and in that circumstance only differs from a thorough and wilful apostate from Christianity, but which incurs the greater guilt may perhaps be hard to determine; for as the one rejects the Christian religion altogether, the other out of choice corrupts it, and opposes its true doctrines, even while he pretends to believe and reverence its authority. Such as these, I say, persons of such vile and dishonest principles, and of so flagitious a character, are the heretics condemned by St. Paul; and therefore to fix it as a term of reproach on any in whom there does not appear hatred of the truth, a sensual mind, and a profligate conscience, must be unChristian and scandalous. And if we examine other passages of the New Testament we shall find that they all concur in giving us the same idea of heresy. It is represented as a work of the flesh, because it has its foundation in the corrupt inclinations of human nature. It is reckoned among the most heinous and execrable vices — such as adultery, idolatry, hatred, variance, seditions, murders. And heretics are constantly described as men of no probity or honour, strangers to all the principles of virtue, and embracing such opinions only as were calculated for the gratification of irregular appetites, and advancing selfish and worldly views (1 Timothy 1:19; 2 Peter 2:1.)
1. It appears from what has been said that no mere error of the judgment can be heresy. For heresy is a high degree of wickedness; and necessarily supposes irregularity of the affections and a depraved and vicious choice; whereas erroneous conceptions and apprehensions of things are no crime at all, but natural to mankind in the present weak and imperfect state of the faculties.
2. We may infer that no honest man can possibly be a heretic. He may, indeed, have errors (and who is there among us that has not?) — nay, he may err in points of importance too, but his mistakes cannot be dangerous while he takes care to maintain a good conscience.
3. If heresy be an error of the will, and such only can be guilty of it who are condemned of themselves, how can we certainly know, in most cases at least, whether a man be a heretic or not? Let each of us put this question to himself impartially, and if we cannot answer it to our satisfaction, let us, however, learn thus much from our ignorance, to be modest in the censures we pass upon others. If it be said that such wicked deceivers are generally known by their fruits, and that their vicious lives will show us by what views they are acted, and the vile design of their imposture, I answer that, even upon this supposition, I should think it better that they be rejected for their immorality, which is notorious and palpable, than for heresy, of which we cannot so certainly judge.
4. Though it be a point of great nicety to judge of heresy in particular instances, the persons who come nearest the character of the old heretics are violent party men, who confine Christianity to their own faction, and excommunicate all that take the liberty to differ from them; the rigid imposers of human schemes of doctrine and modes of worship, as essential branches of religion, and laws binding conscience, these, I say, are most like the heretics condemned in Scripture, notwithstanding their insolence and presumption.
I. WHAT PATIENCE THE LORD USETH IN HIS JUST PROCEEDINGS, EVEN AGAINST THE WORST MEN, WHOM HE WILT. NOT HAVE CONDEMNED NOR CAST OUT OF THE CHURCH UPON SUSPICIONS, OR SURMISES; nor nor presently after an open sin is committed; but there must be a time between wherein the Church must rightly inform herself, that she may know the nature and degree of the sin before she turn her to any censure or sentence. Yea, and further, the sin being apparent, she must not reject any, till all good means of reclaiming have been in vain used. Which may teach us, that to hasten excommunications ipso facto; or (as it is often) before the party can come to the knowledge or suspicion of any such proceeding, is to swerve from the rules of the Word, and those weighty reasons also upon which they are grounded. As namely:
1. Some offenders are curable; and what man in his wits will cut off his arm or leg so soon as it beginneth to ache and pain him, and not rather use means of surgery and cure? is any member in the body so despised?
2. Ourselves must not be so uncharitable as presently, to despair of any man's conversion. God may in time raise the most desperate stoner unto repentance.
3. The means used are not lost; for if it attain no other end, yet shall it make them more inexcusable, the censure more just, and the Church's proceeding more equal and moderate.
4. Add here unto the Lord's example, who never striketh before He have sufficiently warned; He never precipitateth either sentence or execution, but first cometh down to see (Genesis 18:21), and hearkeneth and heareth (Malachi 3:16), and accordingly passeth sentence.
II. NOTE THAT WHEN A SINNER IS KNOWN TO SIN OF OBSTINACY, THE BEST WAY IS TO AVOID HIM AND CAST HIM OUT.
1. For labour is but lost on such a one.
2. He doth but tread holy things under his feet; of which holy things the Church is the keeper, and must be faithful.
3. He sins not only of judgment and reason, but of affection; and this is the reason why very few heretics are converted, when many unregenerate men and outrageously wicked in other kinds are, who sin not of affection and wilfulness, but of corrupt judgment only.
4. The Lord's example (Hosea 4:17).
III. Note hence, also, WHAT USE THE LORD MAKETH OF A WICKED CONSCIENCE, EVEN IN DESPERATE SINNERS. It shall be the accuser, witness, and judge to pronounce the sentence of death against his own soul; and so shall make way unto the Lord's most righteous judgment. Use.
1. It letteth us see what an intolerable torment a wicked conscience is. Use.
2. This further teaches us not to neglect the checks of conscience, nor our own hearts reproving us of our ways; as those men who are resolved to hold on their lewd courses, let the word and spirit, yea, their own spirits, suggest what they will or can against it. For the time cometh when thou canst not set the voice of thy conscience so light, and then that conscience which hath checked thee shall judge thee, and that heart which hath reproved thee shall torment thee, and thou shalt never be able to turn off the charge of it, but shalt by it be accused and convicted to have been a wilful chooser of thine own destruction. Use.
3. This consideration also teacheth us to look that in everything we keep good consciences before God and all men, the use of which will be manifold.(1) To keep us from errors and heresies, and contain us in the profession of the true faith; for let good conscience be put away, there must needs follow a shipwreck of faith; as is to be seen in all heretics. Hence are we counselled to make pure conscience as the coffer to keep faith in (1 Timothy 3:9).(2) In doing any action lawful in itself, a good con science only maketh it good to the doer; for to do even the will of God against my conscience is sin to me, be the same in itself never so materially good.(3) In suffering or enduring anything for well doing (as not the pain, but the cause maketh a martyr so), not the cause so much as the conscience of the sufferer worketh out his boldness and peace in the midst of the combat, and giveth him security, in his conflict; whereas a bad conscience will betray the best cause.(4) In enjoying any condition of this present life, a good conscience is a sweet companion; even a dry morsel with peace of heart is better than a house full of sacrifices with strife and war within. In outward afflictions there is inward rejoicing, for let the heart be pacified in God, it can rejoice in tribulation. The disciples can go away rejoicing from the council that they were counted worthy to be beaten and suffer rebuke for Christ (Acts 5:41). The martyrs can kiss the stake, embrace the fire, and sing in the midst of the flames.(5) Yea, it doth not only through the whole life minister joy and comfort even in the remembrance of death, as in 2 Timothy 4:7, 8, but it followeth a man after death, when all things else forsake him; and as a most faithful friend it goeth with him before God's judgment seat, and pleadeth for him at the bar of Jesus Christ; yea, testifieth with him, and cleareth, and quite acquitteth him from the judgment of the great day. All which being so, what pains and labour can be thought too much in the getting and keeping of such a jewel, which bringeth in so rich a recompense for so little labour, and how worthily doth he forfeit all these sweet fruits of it, who will be at no costs nor pains for it.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(A. Plummer, D. D.)
Saturday Magazine.Ferdinand, Emperor of Germany, possessed a great number of watches, in collecting of which he had a fancy. "It pleased him once," says our quaint author, "to put this, his variety of speaking gold, upon a table, as if he would expose it to sale: he then stepped aside. A stander-by, driven by a desire of stealing, filched one of them (a repeater), which the emperor espying aslant, called him, and without accusation, kept him in various discourse till the watch striking disclosed the hour and his theft.
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