Titus 3:8

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE. "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly." He refers here to the sum of the doctrine of Christian salvation contained in the three preceding verses.

1. The doctrine of salvation is worthy of all acceptance. "This is a faithful saying." This formula, contained only in the pastoral Epistles, points to some weighty truth which had become a watchword among the Christian brotherhood of early times.

(1) There is a tendency in our days to decry dogma. The apostle always insists on its importance as the root-principle and moving spring of morality.

(2) The saying implies that the heavenly inheritance just spoken of is no figment of the imagination, but ought to be accepted as one of the commonplaces of Christian belief.

2. It ought to be confidently put forth at all times by Christian ministers. "And these things I will that thou affirm constantly." This was the strain of all apostolic preaching, and it ought to be ours also. There is no true practical preaching which does not involve the exhibition of God's character and our relations to him in grace - the glorious Person of the Mediator in his various offices, and the work of the Holy Ghost in applying Divine salvation. "These things are good and profitable to men; ' that is, these doctrines, for they lead to good works, and benefit men spiritually and morally.

II. THE DESIGN OF GOSPEL DOCTRINE. "In order that they which have believed God might be careful to maintain good works." The faithful saying of the apostle was not the necessity of good works, but the necessity of the doctrines of grace being preached as the only method of producing good works.

1. The apostle seems to anticipate a tendency of later times to exalt morality at the expense of faith. The doctrines, he says, are the true fountains from which all good works flow. These are, therefore, probably called doctrines according to godliness (Titus 1:1); the wholesome doctrine (Titus 1:9).

2. He sets forth the duty of all believers to be careful about good works. It ought to be a matter of earnest striving, because

(1) God is glorified thereby (John 15:8);

(2) because they are means of blessing to man (James 1:25);

(3) because God remembers them (Hebrews 6:9, 10);

(4) because they will be an evidence of faith in the judgment (Matthew 25:34-40).

3. He insists on their maintaining good works. The word signifies that they must be excelling in them.

(1) They must, therefore, be zealous of them (Titus 2:14);

(2) furnished unto them (2 Timothy 3:17);

(3) rich in them, and stablished in them (1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:17);

(4) ready for all good works (Titus 3:1);

(5) provoking each other unto them (Hebrews 10:24). - T.C.







Maintain good works -I. WHAT WE ONCE WERE. A threefold set of evils is here described.1. The first set consists of the evils of the mind: "We were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived." We were foolish. We thought we knew, and therefore we did not learn. Every lover of vice is a fool writ large. In addition to being foolish, we are said to have been disobedient; and so we were, for we forsook the commands of God. We wanted our own will and way. We were unwilling to yield God His due place either in providence, law, or gospel. Paul adds that we were deceived, or led astray. We were the dupes of custom and of company. We were here, there, and everywhere in our actions: no more to be relied upon than lost sheep.2. The next bundle of mischief is found in the evils of our pursuits. The apostle says we were "serving divers lusts and pleasures." The word for "serving" means being under servitude. We were once the slaves of divers lusts and pleasures. By lusts we understand desires, longings, ambitions, passions. Many are these masters, and they are all tyrants. Some are ruled by greed for money; others crave for fame; some are enslaved by lust for power; others by the lust of the eye; and many by the lusts of the flesh.3. We were also the bond slaves of pleasure. Alas! alas! that we were so far infatuated as to call it pleasure! Looking back at our former lives, we may well be amazed that we could once take pleasure in things whereof we are now ashamed. The Lord has taken the very name of our former idols out of our mouths. A holy man was wont to carry with him a book which had three leaves in it, but never a word. The first leaf was black, and this showed his sin; the second was red, and this reminded him of the way of cleansing by blood; while the third was white, to show how clean the Lord can make us. I beg you just now to study that first black page. It is all black; and as you look at it it shows blacker and blacker. What seemed at one time to be a little white darkens down as it is gazed upon, till it wears the deepest shade of all. Ye were sometimes erring in your minds and in your pursuits. Is not this enough to bring the water into your eyes, O ye that now follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth?4. The apostle then mentions the evils of our hearts. Here you must discriminate and judge, each one for himself, how far the accusation lies. He speaks of "living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." That is to say, first, we harboured anger against those who had done us evil; and, secondly, we lived in envy of those who appeared to have more good than we had ourselves.II. WHAT HAS BEEN DONE FOR US?1. First, there was a Divine interposition. The love and kindness of God our Saviour, which had always existed, at length "appeared" when God, in the person of His Son, came hither, met our iniquities hand to hand, and overcame their terrible power, that we also might overcome.2. Note well that there was a Divine salvation. In consequence of the interposition of Jesus, believers are described as being saved: "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." Hearken to this. There are men in the world who are saved: they are spoken of, not as "to be saved," not as to be saved when they come to die, but saved even now
Truth is many sided. And though like a pure gem, it is on all sides equally bright, it cannot all be seen at once. No merely human mind can so take it all up as to give to every part the same sharp and well-defined outline. Truth in the mind of Christ was like light in the sun, pure and undivided, and ever came out in its glorious integrity. In the minds of his followers it was like light in the prism, in which the rays are separated, or like light in the bow, in which, according to certain laws, the rays are first refracted, and then reflected in the drops of rain, and in which we see the conquering splendour of the light in its struggle with darkness. Faith and works were never separated — not even in idea — in the teaching of Christ. In His own mind they were indissoluble, and so in His instructions. If faith did not express itself in corresponding action, He denied the existence of the principle, or rather He treated men as still on the side of the world and of self. His apostles, on the contrary, gave to all truth their own mental cast and colouring, and unless these various colours are allowed to meet and mingle, we shall lack the pure light. Though Paul and James are treating of one and the same subject, each has his own mode of statement; and the light in which he places it depends on his own individual state of mind. Both apostles are teaching and enforcing the same doctrine, but the parties whom they have in view are not the same. The teachers occupy exactly the same position; but those to whom they address themselves have assumed entirely opposite and conflicting points. The contrariety is not in the statements of the inspired men, but in the minds of Christian professors. Each is a firm believer in the article of justification by faith, but it has different phases, and according as it appears to the one or the other, is his representation. The aim of St. Paul is to set forth God's method of forgiveness and acceptance through the mediation of His Son; — that this is revealed for faith, and that through faith alone do we come to participate in all the provision of redeeming love. Faith, and not, justification, is his theme. There is but one ground of dependence — but one foundation on which the soul can rest her hope of eternal life, and from which all works are necessarily and forever excluded. But having been once brought to repose our faith in the Divine method of salvation, it remains that we give evidence of the fact. We cannot be in communion with the Redeemer of our souls without partaking His higher life; and we cannot be in communion with the Spirit of life without producing the fruits of the Spirit. Hence the challenge of St. James addressed in words of sharp-pointed irony to those who were boasting of their faith as something separate and separable from a life of practical holiness — "Show Me thy faith without thy works." If it have no outward expression, how is it to be known or discovered? "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." As the spirit is the inward animating and informing principle, and manifests itself in the outward acts and movements of the body, so faith has in it an element of life, which cannot but develop itself in practical godliness and holy activity. It follows that there is not one faith to justify a sinner and another faith to justify a believer. The same faith justifies both; or rather, the faith which brings a man to simple dependence on the propitiation set forth by God for the remission of sins, has in it such a force and vitality as ever afterwards to come out in those buds and blossoms which have their fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. If this simple fact had been but kept in view, no discrepancy would have been found in the statement of these two inspired men. The one wholly excludes the human element from the Divine method of reconciliation and life, and demands the most childlike faith in Heaven's revealed and published plan of mercy — the other sets it in the clearest light that wherever this pure unsophisticated faith has existence in the soul, it will ever manifest itself in a course of lofty and persevering righteousness. While faith, and not justification, is the subject treated of by both apostles, it may not be amiss just to glance at the doctrine commonly denominated justification by faith. There are two errors common on this subject. First, justification is confounded with acquittal; and, secondly, man is said to be treated as righteous for the sake of the righteousness of another. Now if he be acquitted, he needs not to be treated as righteous. He is righteous; and is entitled to be dealt with according to his rectitude. And if he be righteous, it is absurd and contradictory to speak of his acquittal. Man has sinned; and the proof of his guilt is overwhelming. With the sentence of condemnation lying heavy upon his heart, he may be pardoned, but he can never be declared to be innocent. But is not the righteousness of Christ said to be imputed to us, and that we become righteous on the ground of His righteousness? In creeds, and catechisms, and commentaries, it certainly is so, but nowhere in the Book of God. The righteousness of Christ is a phrase which never occurs but once in the whole of the Christian Testament. When the great apostle of the nations would heighten our idea of the grace of God, by setting the blessings of redeeming love over against the evils entailed upon our race by the introduction of sin, he says, "As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." He does not represent the righteousness of the One, as something imputed or transferred from Christ to man, but simply as the procuring cause of our forgiveness and life. The righteousness is put for the whole work of the Saviour's mediation, and this is declared to be the sole ground on which the blessings of Divine mercy are extended to our fallen world. Nor is more than this to be extracted from the deep saying of this same apostle, when in words that breathe, lie thus expresses the inmost feeling of his soul: "I have suffered the loss of all things, that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ — the righteousness which is of God by faith." The idea here is, that he was supremely anxious to be kept from even the attempt of laying a foundation in his own strivings and doings for his acceptance with God, and that he might ever be led to repose by a simple faith in the one Divine method of forgiveness and salvation. The righteousness of God is God's revealed plan of saving man through the propitiatory offering of His Son. Faith in this propitiation involves an act of perfect self-renunciation, an acknowledgment of conscious sin and weakness, and a resting upon another for help and succour. Our justification introduces us into a new and loftier relation. Our Father in heaven may not treat us as righteous, but He will most surely bless us as His adopted ones. If we can prefer no claim we may yet possess all good. If salvation can never be of works it can ever be of grace. If life is not a right it is yet our high privilege and our mightier joy. This life is progressive. As the first ray of light that gilds the mountain's height predicts a meridian sun, and as the first blush of the opening flower promises a full and perfect bloom, so the faintest indications of the life of God in the soul assure us of continued growth and progress, till, from its fulness and exuberance, it burst into all the beauty and perfection of heaven. The power that quickens is the power that purifies. There are spots on the disc of the sun, only they are invisible through the effulgence and the fulness of his light, and there are but few spirits so highly sanctified and refined as to render indiscernible, through the glory which surrounds them, those sin spots which daily alight upon their renewed nature. Nor can the work of inward holiness be perfected so long as we are in this body of death. It is in the act of shaking mortality off that the Spirit puts forth his last and latest effort in the soul; and it is only when the soul has burst her prison wall, let fall the last link of the chain which bound her to earth, and is on her way to the great world of light, that she is conscious of her final and everlasting separation from sin. Up to that mysterious point we may become day by day more closely assimilated to God our Saviour. Our sanctification is inseparable from our justification. It is not enough that we live. It is the will of God that we should enjoy the fulness of life. Life can have fellowship only with life. We must, therefore, detach ourselves from every opposing element and influence. We must give up the material and the visible for the spiritual and the unseen. Enjoyment without activity would not be an unmixed good. It follows that as life is quickened and our nature is purified, we are freed from sloth and sluggishness. The soul moves with a freedom and a swiftness corresponding to the unconfined liberty of heaven. That is a world of never-ending activity, and, in proportion as we rise into conformity with the pure spirits that surround the throne of God, shall we, like them, employ all our renovated powers in holy and active service? Christianity is love — universal, unbounded love — and embraces within itself the present and the everlasting interests of man. And the more we partake its spirit, the more entire will be our consecration — the more unreserved our activity and our service. Let no one be startled and offended with the doctrine of good works. They necessarily flow from faith. They are faith in action. They are "the living effluence of the tide of Divine love," which refuses to be confined within any prescribed limits, and flows out in deeds of unwearied benevolence and piety. He who repudiates a life of well-doing in the dreamy belief that in the same proportion he is exalting the grace of God, is not the man whose character exhibits the closest correspondence to the pure and sublime requirements of the Book. It is a grand mistake to suppose that the law is repealed by the gospel. In Christianity the law reappears; only it is transfigured and glorified. Every utterance which was given in the thunder tones of Sinai, is re-echoed with heightened emphasis in the Sermon on the Mount, only it comes silent as the light and gentle as the dew from the lips of Incarnate Love. We hold that salvation is by grace and not by works; but where the works are wanting the grace cannot be present. Our activity and our service will be the everlasting recognition and expression of the fact that we have been redeemed by blood and saved by grace. We should be unfaithful to our ministry and to your souls did we dare to say that sin committed by a professed believer is less criminal or less damnable than what we discover in the unregenerate and the unholy. Sin is sin by whomsoever committed, and involves the same tremendous consequences. It is of infinite moment that they who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works — that their life should be pure, their character transparent, and their conduct patent. Their principles should be above suspicion, and their whole course of action such as may challenge the higher light of the world to come.

(R. Ferguson, LL. D.)

I. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO BELIEVE WHAT GOD HATH SAID TO BE TRUE, AND TO GIVE OUR ASSENT TO THE CERTAINTY OF DIVINE REVELATION, UNLESS OUR BELIEF INFLUENCES OUR HEART AND LIFE. Christ's laws, as well as any other, run in this disjunction — either do or suffer; either live holily, or perish everlastingly: nothing is therein promised, but upon condition of our obedience. The main thing our Saviour aimed at all His life was to restore human nature to its primitive purity and perfection, and to advance true piety and holiness in the world; to bring men to a good opinion of and a ready compliance with God's laws, so that it influences all their actions, faith not being enough to denominate a man a true Christian, unless he goes on to add to his faith virtue, etc.

II. THE PRACTICE OF GOOD WORKS, TAKEN EITHER FOR PIETY TOWARDS GOD OR CHARITY TOWARDS MAN, IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR ALL UNTO SALVATION.

1. They render our services more acceptable unto God. Purity and holiness in the heart, before these be or when there is no opportunity to work, are in themselves good; but when they are demonstrated by godly and charitable actions, then smell they sweet, and are sacrifices well-pleasing.

2. By them God's name is more glorified (Matthew 5:16).

3. By them we shall be the greatest gainers or losers, in that by them we make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).

III. WHY THOSE ARE MORE INDISPENSABLY OBLIGED TO BE EXEMPLARY IN ALL GOOD WORKS, WHO HAVE BEEN MORE PARTICULARLY ACQUAINTED WITH GOD'S WILL, AND EARLY INSTRUCTED IN IT. As we may be supposed to have been, whose parents were our spiritual guides, as well as fathers of our flesh, and under whose roof we were early seasoned with their daily instructions and good example. We shall, therefore, reflect upon their memory and care, we shall cause others to uncover their ashes with dishonour, unless we adorn that faith our fathers believed, which they taught us, and which we saw them practise.

(Thos. Whincop, D. D.)

I. THE CERTAIN TRUTH AND CREDIBILITY OF THIS SAYING OR PROPOSITION, that they which have believed in God ought to be careful to maintain good works.

1. If we consider the great end and design of religion in general, which is to make us happy, by possessing our minds with the belief of a God, and those other principles which have a necessary connection with that belief, and by obliging us to the obedience and practice of His laws.

2. If we consider the great end and design of the Christian religion in particular, which was to reform the world, to purify the hearts and lives of men from corrupt affections and wicked practices, to teach men to excel in all kinds of virtue and goodness.

II. THE GREAT FITNESS AND NECESSITY OF INCULCATING FREQUENTLY UPON ALL THAT PROFESS THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS, the indispensable necessity of the practice of the virtues of a good life.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

I. THAT BELIEVERS ARE UNDER OBLIGATIONS TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS is so evident, not only from the text, but from the whole tenor of the Scripture, that I know of no sect of Christians that pretend to deny it. But, with regard to their place and importance as connected with our salvation, great mistakes have been made. It will certainly then be worth our pains to inquire from the oracles of God, "How far and in what respect are our good works necessary to be maintained with regard to salvation."

1. In my negative answer to this question, I must first observe that we are not to do good works in order to change God's purposes and designs towards us; or to excite His benevolence and compassion to us. Our business is to come to Christ and learn of Him, to bow our necks to His yoke, to do good works from faith in Christ, and out of love and obedience to Him; and in that way to hope in God for mercy, for Christ's sake, and for His own sake, and not for ours.

2. We are not to do good works with a view to qualify us for our reception of Christ by faith, or for obtaining an interest in Him. The gospel brings glorious tidings of salvation to perishing sinners. It exempts and excludes none who will come to Christ for life, who will come to Him as lost sinners under a sense of their guilt and unworthiness, who will "buy of Him wine and milk without money and without price, and who will take the water of Life freely."

3. I must further add that we are not to do good works in expectation that we shall by them obtain a title to the future inheritance. Heaven is a purchased possession; our title to it, our qualification for it, our perseverance in the way that leads thither, and our eternal enjoyment of the glorious inheritance, are all purchased by the blood of Christ. In all these respects Christ Jesus is our Hope; and when we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," we must "rejoice in Christ Jesus, having no confidence in the flesh."

4. I shall only add that we must not depend upon our good works for renewing supplies of grace, and for continual progress in holiness, and comfort unto God's heavenly kingdom. We are not only justified by faith, but we must be sanctified by faith too, and of Christ's "fulness must receive even grace for grace."

II. I proceed now to show you IN WHAT RESPECTS GOOD WORKS ARE OF NECESSITY; and to that purposes they must be done by all those who would approve themselves Christians indeed.

1. Good works are necessary as being one design of our redemption and effectual calling. Though not the fountain and foundation of a renewed nature, they are always the streams that flow from that fountain, and the super structure upon that foundation. Though they do not sanctify us they are the natural and necessary actings and operations of a sanctified heart.

2. Good works are necessary, as they belong to the way leading to heaven. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." We must not only "enter in at the strait gate, but walk in the narrow way which leadeth unto life." They who would hope for heaven hereafter must have it begun in their souls here. Their hearts must be in some measure conformed to the Divine nature and will, that they may be qualified for the enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world.

3. Good works are necessary as acts of obedience to God's commands, and a just acknowledgment of His dominion over us. Our freedom from the curses and demands of the moral law as a covenant of life is so far from freeing us from our duty towards it as a rule of practice, or excusing us from a careful observation of its precepts, that the glorious liberty we are made partakers of is given us for this very end that we may serve "God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life."

4. Good works are necessary as expressions of our gratitude to God for all His goodness to us, more especially for gospel grace, and the influences of His blessed Spirit. They who have ever tasted that the Lord is gracious, and have any suitable sense of their obligations to Him, will study what they shall render to the Lord for all His benefits; they will delight in endeavours to glorify Him, they will be solicitously careful of a constant conformity to His will, and a peculiar delight in following after holiness.

5. Good works are necessary to honour our profession, to adorn the doctrine of God bur Saviour, and to bring glory to His name.

6. Good works are likewise necessary to our inward peace and comfort. A truly tender conscience will always remonstrate against the indulgence of any sin, either of omission or commission. And how unhappy and miserable must that man be to have his heart condemning him; to have a worm gnawing in his breast, to have conscience applying the terrors of the Lord, and representing to Him his guilt and danger! And yet this cannot be avoided without a life of good works. We cannot have grounds of rejoicing, but from "the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God we have our conversation in the world."

(J. King, B. A.)

Among the many causes which have concurred to render our holy religion thus unsuccessful, the indifference and neglect with which many sects of Christians have been accustomed to treat the moral precepts of the gospel deserves, I think, to be considered as none of the least. By giving an imaginary importance to subjects of speculation, concerning which wise and good men have always thought, and will probably continue to think, differently, they have turned aside the attention and zeal of mankind from those things in which their present and future happiness are really and principally concerned. My design is to counteract the influence of these prejudices, as far as I am able, by showing that the principal end of public preaching is to recommend the practice of virtue; and that those who attend upon it should be best satisfied with such discourses as clearly explain and strongly inculcate the several branches of morality as it comprehends our duty to our Maker, our fellow creatures and ourselves, without entering further into subjects of speculation and controversy than is of evident importance to the moral improvement and happiness of mankind.

1. I observe, in the first place, that if the duties of morality and religion were made the principal subjects of public preaching, it would remove or prevent many evils which have arisen from the contrary practice. The divisions and contentions, the persecutions and cruelties, which have disgraced the Christian Church, from its first establishment to the present day, are so well known that I may be excused the painful talk of entering into a particular enumeration of them. The time, however, seems to be at length arrived, in which men are beginning to see the folly of hating and persecuting one another for a difference in opinion on subjects concerning which it is impossible that they should be agreed. And shameful indeed must be the weakness, and fatal the delusion of mankind in the experience of so many ages hath not been sufficient to teach them this one plain but important lesson, that all zealous contentions about particular modes of faith or worship are unfriendly to the interests of religion, and the happiness of the world. From these circumstances one may hope that the present time is the dawning of a happy day, in which all distinctions of sects shall be abolished and all dissentions and animosities will be forgotten; in which we shall all love one another with pure hearts fervently, and shall cordially unite in the worship of one God, the Father of us all. And what can be more likely to hasten the approach of this delightful period than for the ministers of religion to overlook and as much as possible discourage every party distinction and useless speculation, and constantly to direct the attention of their hearers to those subjects concerning which we are all agreed, and in which we are all immediately interested; I mean the great duties of morality and religion?

2. Another reason why these duties should be the constant subjects of public preaching is because we may speak concerning them with the greatest perspicuity and certainty. That we ought to venerate the most excellent and perfect of all beings; that we should devoutly and thankfully acknowledge the hand which feeds and clothes us, and gives us richly all things to enjoy; that we should cheerfully submit ourselves to the direction of that Being who ordereth all things well; that we should observe the great laws of equity in all our transactions with mankind; that we should pity, and, if possible, relieve a brother in distress; that we should love our friends, be grateful to our benefactors, and forgive our enemies; that we should behave with honour and generosity, kindness, and charity towards all men; that we should govern ourselves with prudence and discretion, and diligently cultivate the powers which God hath given us; these are truths as obvious as they are important; truths concerning which all mankind in every country, and of every sect, are agreed. They are, therefore, of all others, the most proper subjects of public discourse.

3. I add this strain of preaching is best adapted to the understanding and taste of the generality of mankind. If a preacher endeavours to establish received opinions, or if he takes pains to overturn them; if he recites the comments of the most learned and celebrated fathers of the Church on difficult texts of Scripture, and supports them; or, if on the other hand, he attempts to explain them in a different manner, and, on this explanation, to ground a more rational scheme of faith; he may perhaps amuse and please a few; but he will, most probably, offend some, soar above the understandings of many, and reach the hearts of none. But if he exhorts his hearers to maintain good works; if he appeals to their consciences for the reasonableness and importance of the duties which he recommends; if he gives them just and lively representations of the influence which the observance or neglect of these duties will have upon their peace and happiness; if he touches the springs of gratitude, benevolence and humanity, of self-love, of hope and fear in their hearts, and calls forth every power and passion within them to assist him in pleading the cause of virtue; he will generally find his audience attentive and serious, and may hope to send them away not only pleased but improved.

4. Further, we may remark, that to exhort Christians to maintain good works is the proper business of the Christian ministry. Jesus Christ was eminently a Preacher of righteousness. This character He supported during the whole course of His public ministry. All the doctrines which He taught; all the wonderful worlds which He performed; all the pains and sufferings to which He submitted, were with this immediate view, that He might take away sin and bring in everlasting righteousness. Now, by what means can the teachers of religion so properly merit the character of Christian ministers as by pursuing the same important plan with Him whom they acknowledge as their Lord and Master?

5. The last consideration which I shall mention to evince the reasonableness of making the duties of morality and religion the constant subjects of public preaching is, that they are of the highest importance to the happiness of mankind, and that, in comparison with them, all other subjects are unprofitable and vain.

6. I will conclude by earnestly recommending it to you to take heed that you hear with the same design with which your ministers do or ought to preach, that you may be confirmed in all goodness. Attend upon public preaching, not with a view to have your favourite opinions established, your curiosity gratified, or your imaginations amused; but to have your evil habits corrected, your good dispositions strengthened, and your characters continually improved. "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only."

(W. Enfield.)

This text places Christian morals upon a basis sufficiently firm and extended to support the fabric. Well aware of the absolute necessity of preaching sound principles in order to attain to a holy practice, and of the mighty influence which evangelical doctrine, if rightly understood and fairly stated, hath upon holiness in the life, St. Paul heaps privilege upon privilege, and within the compass of three short verses, enumerates the leading articles of our holy religion — giving such a view of them in their connection and influence upon practice, as must delight, constrain and ravish the heart of every believer. From hence I would humbly suggest this general remark, which, by the favour of our God, I intend to prosecute in the sequel of this discourse — whoever in the ministry would really advance the interests of holiness must be constant assertors and unwearied defenders of the doctrines of free grace.

I. Glance at THOSE THINGS IN THE FAITHFUL SAYING WHICH OUR APOSTLE WOULD HAVE THE MINISTERS OF CHRIST TO AFFIRM CONSTANTLY, FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF PROMOTING HOLINESS. The very humbling doctrine of universal depravity (ver. 3). We have little reason to be proud or vainglorious, severe or censorious of others, or to despise those who have not obtained mercy with ourselves — a vice which frequently deforms the character even of a child of a God. But by frequently insisting upon the doctrines of universal depravity, the graces of humility, meekness, mildness, tenderness, and benevolence are perceived to be of the highest request for adorning the Christian character, and promoting the happiness of men; and hence the necessity as well as the advantage of affirming it constantly.

2. The Divine benevolence to man (ver. 4). According to this statement, the gospel of our salvation is a system of love — of Divine love — of the love of God towards foolish, disobedient, and enslaved men.

3. Our salvation is all of grace (ver. 5). Men cannot be too diligently cautioned against seeking salvation by the works of the law, nor too distinctly taught to ascribe the glory of the whole to "the Lord our righteousness."

4. Grace displayed in regeneration (ver. 5). The reality and necessity of regeneration, the Divine Agent by whom the gracious change is accomplished, the manner in which this happy change is effected, with the unbounded mercy and love displayed, both by the Father and the Son, in giving the Holy Ghost for such a purpose. These things cannot be too constantly affirmed: for, till this change be wrought on the nature and the heart, no true reformation will ever adorn the life.

5. Justification only by grace (ver. 7). This is a cardinal article in the scheme of salvation, according to the Scriptures. Well may the preservation or loss of it be designed the mark of a standing or falling Church. It is the glory of the gospel, the melody of the joyful sound, the admiration and the joy of redeemed men, the most powerful motive to holiness which can be presented.

6. The title secured by justification to the enjoyment of eternal life (ver. 7). It is both pleasant and very encouraging to mark, in this statement preceding my text, how regeneration, justification, adoption, and eternal glory, are so linked together in the same chain, that by holding one of the links, the happy possessor is infallibly secured of all the rest. A most glorious and eternal truth — an assurance eminently calculated to enliven the believer's hope of eternal life in Christ. And "whosoever hath this hope in Him purifieth himself," as Jesus Christ, his hope "is pure."

II. Show THAT THE CONSTANT AFFIRMATION OF THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL IS THE ONLY SCRIPTURE METHOD OF PREACHING GOOD WORKS. Good works is a general expression for the practice of holiness, or the performance of every part of new obedience, whether it respect moral, civil, or religious duty. To maintain good works, according to the signification of the original word, is to take the lead in the practice of them. The term is of a military illusion. As the officers of an army stand before, or a little in advance of the line, both to display heroism and preserve the order of the troops, so the believer in God is expected and commanded to stand forth, in the view of the world, in the sight of the Church, and particularly in the presence of younger disciples of Christ, as examples of regularity, sobriety, tenderness, and devotion. To be emulous to excel, so as to provoke one another to faith, "to love and to good works." An emulation this eminently worthy of being cherished! To be "careful to maintain good works," is to be wholly intent upon the study and the practice of new obedience; for, except the mind feel a deep interest in holiness, from a love to God and a desire to be like Him, the external performance of good works will be cold, formal, and remiss. Hence it follows that the constant affirmation of these doctrines, so happily calculated to cherish the exercise of faith, must be peculiarly friendly to the interests of holiness; nay, more, that the constant affirmation of these things is the only Scriptural and consistent plan of engaging the believer in God to be careful to maintain good works. This I hope to make manifest to your satisfaction from these four considerations.

1. These doctrines contain the principles, powers, and privileges, by which alone any of the human race become qualified for maintaining good works.

2. In these doctrines the believer is presented with the most powerful and proper motives and inducements to maintain good works.

3. These doctrines, when firmly believed, excite an inveterate antipathy at everything contrary to the nature and holy will of God.

4. The constant affirmation of these things affords the Christian moralist every advantage to state his subject in all its force.

(W. Taylor.)

I. THE NECESSITY OF GOOD WORKS IN REGARD TO OURSELVES.

1. The practice of good works is necessary to prove the reality and sincerity of our faith. Faith or belief is a hidden principle which no man can see, and there is no other way of testifying that we possess this principle, but by the benevolent sentiments which it breathes, and the good actions which it prompts us to perform.

2. Good works are necessary to promote our moral improvement, We know very well that there is such an indissoluble connection between a true faith and eternal salvation, that the man who is a sincere believer will be justified and sanctified and glorified; but his sanctification is entirely distinct from, and is only a consequence of, his faith and justification. It is therefore necessary that the principle of a Divine life should operate in transforming him from glory to glory, and from one degree of religious and moral improvement unto another, until he be conformed to the image of the Son of God, and attain to the measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. It is not merely necessary that he should cease to do evil; but he must learn to do well. In short, by a diligent and unremitting attention to the duties of religion and morality, he must cultivate the principle of universal righteousness and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord.

3. Good works are necessary to qualify us for heaven. They are necessary to form us to the temper and disposition of Christ, who went about continually doing good; in order that the same mind may be also in us that was in Him; for we may depend upon it, that if we have not the spirit of the Lord Jesus, we are assuredly none of His.

II. HOW THESE THINGS ARE GOOD AND PROFITABLE UNTO MEN.

1. These works are good, because they flow from a faith or belief in the command of God, and are done from a principle of conformity to His will.

2. But the apostle trot only characterises these things as good, he also affirms that they are profitable unto men. We shall, therefore, conclude, by briefly pointing out how these good works are especially profitable to those to whom they are performed; and we are espressly enjoined in Scripture to do good to all men as far as we have opportunity. Now, all who believe in God have it in their power, more or less, to do good to the bodies and. the souls of men. This is one substantial reason why we are required to prove our faith by our works. He has ordained many to be rich, and more to be poor, that those to whom He has been bountiful might glorify Him with His own. He has bestowed wisdom and knowledge upon many, that they should instruct the ignorant, reclaim the wandering, and those who are out of the way. He commands us to defend the fatherless and plead for the widow; to be the stranger's shield and the orphan's stay; to relieve the oppressed; to pour the balm of consolation into the wounded spirit; to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, that the blessing of those who are ready to perish may come upon us.

(D. Stevenson.)

I. DEFINE GOOD WORKS.

1. That our works may be good, they must be —

(1)Performed by good persons;

(2)Required by God's Word;

(3)Done from a sound principle;

(4)Done to a right end.

2. How these good works must be maintained —

(1)Attention to God's Word;

(2)Solicitude to know God's mind;

(3)Watchfulness against temptations;

(4)Embracing every opportunity of doing good;

(5)Pressing forward in knowledge;

(6)Exciting others to do the same.

II. THE FAITH WHICH PRODUCES GOOD WORKS.

1. Knowledge of God.

2. And of the Word of God.

3. Faith is a composing grace.

4. A receptive grace.

5. An operative grace.

6. A rooting grace.

7. A humbling grace.

8. An elevating grace.

9. A strengthening grace.

10. A uniting grace.

11. A working grace.

12. A saving grace.

III. HOW GOOD WORKS ARE PROFITABLE TO MEN.

1. As evidences of true faith.

2. Testimonies of gratitude to God.

3. Strengthening to assurance.

4. Edifying to others.

5. Condemning the world.

(T. B. Baker, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. Practical Christianity is GOOD IN ITSELF.

1. It accords with the will of God.

2. It is an object of moral approbation to all minds.

II. GOOD IN ITS INFLUENCE. Nothing is so useful to men as a Christly life.

(Homilist.)

I. FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS ARE TO BE CONTINUALLY ENFORCED.

II. PRACTICAL PREACHING IS EVER OUT OF SEASON.

III. CHRISTIAN DUTIES ARE OF UNIVERSAL APPLICATION.

IV. TRIVIAL QUESTIONS OUT OF PLACE IN THE PULPIT. Inferences —

1. It is possible to have repetition without sameness: "affirm constantly."

2. Belief that does not change the life is useless (James 2:17)

3. The law is to be obeyed in spirit, rather than letter.

(F. Wagstaff.)

The things that Titus is to "affirm constantly," as we shall see presently, are the doctrines of Christianity. What for? "In order that they which have believed in God" might be orthodox? Guarded against heresies? Certainly! But something more than that. In order that they might "give their minds to being foremost," as the word might be rendered, "in good works." That is what you are to preach your theology for, says Paul; and the only way to make sure that your converts shall live sober and righteous lives is to see that they be thoroughly saturated in the great and recondite truths which I have taught you.

I. THE GOSPEL IS DEGRADED UNLESS IT IS ASSERTED STRONGLY. "These things I will that thou affirm constantly"; or, as the word might be rendered, "asseverate pertinaciously," persistently, positively, affirm and assert constantly and confidently. That is the way in which Paul thinks it ought to be spoken. "These things." What things? Well, here they are (vers. 4-7). There are all the fundamentals of evangelical Christianity packed into three verses. They are all there — man's sin, man's need, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, His sacrificial death, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the act of faith, the inheritance of eternal life. And these are the things which are to be asserted with all the energy and persistency and decisiveness of the speaker's nature. Paul did not believe in fining them down because people did not like them. He did Dot believe in consulting the "spirit of the age," except thus far, that the more the spirit of the age was contrary to the truth, the more need for the men that believed it to speak out.

II. THIS POSITIVE ASSERTION OF THE TRUTHS OF REVELATION IS THE BEST FOUNDATION TO LAY FOR PRACTICAL GODLINESS. "I will that these things thou affirm constantly, in order that they which have believed might be careful to maintain good works." Rightly understood and presented, the great body of truth which we call the gospel, and which is summarised in the preceding context, grips daily life very tightly, while, on the other hand, of all the impotent things in this world, none are more impotent than exhortations to be good, which are cut away from the great truths of Christ's mission and work. The world has been listening to these ever since it was a world, and it is not a bit better for them all. There is only one thing that supplies the requisite motive power for practical godliness, and that is the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His indwelling in our hearts. The motives that the gospel gives for goodness, for holiness, for purity, for self-sacrifice, for consecration, for enthusiasm, for widespread sympathy and benevolence, for contempt of the material and the perishable — the motives that Christianity gives for all things that are lovely and of good report — are the strongest that can ever be brought to bear upon men, as regards their fulness, their depth, their sweetness, and their transforming energy. Then, if it be true that the best foundation for all practical goodness is in the proclamation and the possession of the great message of Christ's love, two things follow. One is that Christian people ought to familiarise themselves with the practical side of their faith, just as Christian ministers ought to be in the habit of insisting, not merely upon the great revelation of God's love in Jesus Christ, but upon that revelation considered as the motive and the pattern for holy living. And another consequence is that here is a rough but a pretty effective test of so-called religious truth. Does it help to make a man better? It is worth something if it does; if it does not, then it may be ruled out as of small consequence.

III. THE TRUE TEST AND OUTCOME OF PROFESSING FAITH IS CONDUCT. In the text the fact that these Cretan Christians "believed in," or rather, perhaps, we should translate simply, "believed God," is given as a reason why they ought to maintain good works. That is to say, those who profess to have Him for their Lord and Father, those who avow that they are Christians, are by that profession bound to a conduct corresponding to the truth which they say they have received; and to conformity to the will of the God in whom they say that they have believed. Religious knowledge is all very necessary, but what is it for? It is to make us like God. Religious emotion is very necessary, too, and very delightful. It is right that Christian men should feel the glow of love and gratitude, the joy of forgiveness, the lofty and often unspeakable delights of calm communion with Him. All these are essential parts of a deep and true Christian character, but all these are for a purpose. If we are Christians we know God and we feel the emotions of the religious life, in order that we may be and that we may do.

IV. NO ONE WILL KEEP UP THESE GOOD WORKS WHO DOES NOT GIVE HIS MIND TO IT. "That they...might be careful to maintain." The word that the apostle employs is a very remarkable one, only used in this one place in the New Testament; and the force of it might be given by that colloquialism which I have ventured to employ — "Giving their minds to maintaining good works." You have to make a business of it if you would succeed in it. You have to make a definite effort to bring before you the virtues and the excellencies which you ought to possess, and then to try your best to have them. And my text suggests one chief means of securing that result, and that is, the habit — which I am afraid is not a habit with a great many professing Christians — the habit of meditation upon the facts of the gospel revelation looked at in their practical bearing on our daily life and character. We should bring ourselves into that atmosphere, and saturate our minds and hearts with the thoughts of God's great love to us in Jesus Christ's death for us, of the pattern in His life, of the gift of His Spirit, of the hope of inheritance of eternal life. We should, by frequent meditation, submit ourselves to the power of these sacred thoughts, and we shall find that in them, one by one, are motives which, twisted together, will make a cord of love that shall draw us up out of the pit of selfishness and the mire of sense, and shall attract us joyfully along the path of obedience, else too hard for our reluctant and unaccustomed feet.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

By flowers, understand faith; by fruit, good works. As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works; so neither is the fruit without the flower, nor good works without faith. Faith and works — 'Twas an unhappy division that has been made between faith and works. Though in my intellect I may divide them, just as in the candle I know there is both light and heat; but yet, put out the candle, and they are both gone; one remains not without the other. So 'tis betwixt faith and works; nay, in a right conception, fides est opus (faith is work); if I believe a thing because I am commanded, that is opus (work).

(T. Selden.)

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