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With respect to the conduct of Christians towards the world, grace has
banished violence, and the spirit of rebellion and resistance which
agitates the heart of those who believe hot, and which has its source in
the self-will that strives to maintain its own rights relatively to others.
The Christian has his portion, his inheritance, elsewhere; he is tranquil
and submissive here and ready to do good. Even when others are violent and
unjust towards him, he bears it in remembrance that once it was no
otherwise with himself: a difficult lesson, for violence and injustice stir
up the heart; but the thought that it is sin, and that we also were
formerly its slaves, produces patience and piety. Grace alone has made the
difference, and according to that grace are we to act towards others.
The apostle gives a grievous summary of the characteristics of man after
the flesh-that which we once were. Sin was foolishness-was disobedience;
the sinner was deceived-was the slave of lusts, filled with malice and
envy, hateful, and hating others. Such is man characterized by sin. But the
kindness of God, of a Saviour-God, His good-will and charity towards men
(sweet and precious character of God!) [see note #2] has appeared. The character
that He assumed is that of Saviour,
a name especially given Him in these three epistles, in order that we
should bear its stamp in our walk, that it should pervade our spirit. Our
walk in the world and our conduct towards others depend on the principles
of our relationships with God. That which has made us different from others
is not some merit in ourselves, some personal superiority: we were sometime
even as they. It is the tender love and grace of the God of mercy. He has
been kind and merciful to us: we have known what it is, and are so to
others. It si true that in cleansing and renewing us this mercy has wrought
by a principle, and in a sphere of a life, that are entirely new,, so that
we cannot walk with the world as we did before; but we act towards others
who are still in the mire of this world, as God has acted towards us to
bring us out of it, that we might enjoy those things which, according to
the same principle of grace, we desire that others also should enjoy. The
sense of what we once were, and of the way in which God has acted towards
us, combine to govern our conduct towards others.
Now when the kindness of a Saviour-God appeared, it was not something vague
and uncertain; He has saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to His mercy by washing and renewing us. This is the
double character of the work in us, the same two points which we find in
John 3 in the Lords' discourse with Nicodemus; except that here is added
that which has now its place because of the work of Christ, namely, that
the Holy Ghost is also shed on us abundantly to be the strength of that new
life of which He is the source. The man is washed, cleansed. He is washed
from his former habits, thoughts, desires, in the practical sense. We wash
a thing that exists. The man was morally bad and defiled in his inward and
outward life. God has saved us by purifying us; He could not do it
otherwise. To be in relationship with Himself there must be practical
But this purification was thorough. It was not the outside of the vessel.
It was purification by means of regeneration; identified with the
communication of a new life no doubt, which is the source of new thoughts,
in connection with God's new creation, and capable of enjoying His presence
and in the light of His countenance, but which in itself is a passage from
the state we were in into a wholly new one, from flesh by death into the
status of a risen Christ.
But there was a power which acted in this new life and accompanies it in
the Christian. It is not merely a subjective change, as they say. There is
an active divine Agent who imparts something new, of which He is Himself
the source-the Holy Ghost Himself. It is God acting in the creature (for it
is by the Spirit that God always acts immediately on the creature); and it
is in the character of the Holy Ghost that He acts in this work of renewal.
It is a new source of thoughts in relationship with God; not only a vital
capacity, but an energy which produces that which is new in us.
It has been a question, When does this renewal by the Holy Ghost take
place? Is it at the commencement, or is it after the regeneration [see note #3] of
which the apostle speaks? I think that the apostle speaks of it according
to the character of the work; and adds "shed on us"
(that which characterizes the grace of this present period) to shew that
there is an additional truth, namely, that the Holy Ghost, as "shed on us,"
continues in order to maintain by His power the enjoyment of the
relationship into which He has brought us. The man is cleansed in
connection with the new order of things; but the Holy Ghost is a source of
an entirely new life, entirely new thoughts; not only of a new moral being,
but of the communication of all that in which this new being develops
itself. We cannot separate the nature from the objects with regard to which
the nature develops itself, and which form the sphere of its existence and
It is the Holy Ghost who gives the thoughts, who creates and forms the
whole moral being of the new man. The thought and that which thinks, cannot
be separated, morally, when the heart is occupied with it. The Holy Ghost
is the source of all in the saved man: he is ultimately saved, because this
is the case with him.
The Holy Ghost does not only give a new nature; He gives it us in
connection with an entirely new order of things ("a new creation"), and
fills us as to our thoughts with the things that are in this new creation.
This is the reason, that, although we are placed in it once for all, this
work-as to the operation of the Holy Ghost-continues; because He ever
communicates to us more and more of the things of this new world into which
He has brought us. He takes of the things of Christ and shews them to us;
and all that the Father has is Christ's. I think that the "renewing of the
Holy Ghost" embraces all this; because he says, "which shed on us
abundantly." So that it is not only that we are born of Him, but that He
works in us, communicating to us all that is ours in Christ.
The Holy Ghost is shed on us abundantly by means of Jesus Christ our
Saviour, in order that, having been justified by the grace of this Saviour,
we should be heirs according to the hope of eternal life. I think that the
antecedent of "in order that" is "the washing of regeneration and the
renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and that the sentence, "which he shed on us
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour," is an accessory parenthesis
introduced to shew us that we have the fullness of the enjoyment of these
things by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Thus he has saved us by this renewing that we may be heirs according to the
hope of eternal life, It is nothing outward, earthly, or corporeal. Grace
has given us eternal life, In order to this, we have been justified by the
grace of Christ. [see note #4] Thus there is energy, power, hope, through the
rich gift of the Holy Ghost. In order to our participating in it we have
been justified by His grace, and our inheritance is in the incorruptible
joy of eternal life.
God has saved us, not by works-nor by means of [see note #5] anything that we are,
but by His mercy. But the He has acted towards us according to the riches
of His own grace,
according to the thoughts of His own heart.
With these things the apostle desires that Titus would be occupied-with
that which brings us with thanksgiving into practical connection with God
Himself and makes us feel what our portion is, our eternal portion, before
Him. This acts upon the conscience, fills us with love and good works,
makes us respect all the relationships of which God Himself is the center.
We are in relationship with God according to His rights; we are before God,
who causes everything that He has Himself established to be respected by
Idle questions and disputes on the law Titus was to avoid, together with
everything that would destroy the simplicity of our relationship with God
according to the immediate revelation of Himself and of His will in Jesus
Christ. It is still the Gnostic Judaism setting itself up against the
simplicity of the gospel; it is the law and human righteousness, and that
which, by means of intermediate beings, destroys the simplicity and the
immediate character of our relationship with the God of grace.
When a man tried to set up his own opinions, and by that means to form
parties in the assembly, after having admonished him once and a second
time, he was to be rejected; his faith was subverted. He sins, he is judged
of himself. He is not satisfied with the assembly of God, with the truth of
God: he wants to make a truth of his won. Why is he a Christian, if
Christianity, as God has given it, does no suffice him? By making a party
for his own opinions he condemns himself.
We have, at the end of the epistle, a little glimpse of the Christian
activity which the love of God produces, the pains taken that the flock
should enjoy all the help with which God supplies the assembly. Paul wished
that Titus should come to him: but the Cretans needed his services; and the
apostle makes the arrival of Artemas or Tychicus (the latter well known by
the services he had rendered to Paul) the condition of the departure of
Titus from the field in which he was laboring. We find too that Zena, a
lawyer, and Apollos, who had also displayed his active zeal at Ephesus and
Corinth , were disposed to occupy themselves in Crete with the work of the
Observe also that we have the two kinds of labourers: those who were in
personal connection with the apostle as fellow-laborers, who accompanied
him, and whom he sent elsewhere to continue the work he had begun, when he
could no longer carry it on himself; and those who labored freely and
independently of him. But there was no jealousy of this double activity. He
did not neglect the flock that were dear to him. He was glad that any who
were sound in the faith should water the plants which he had planted. He
encourages Titus to show them all affection, and to provide whatever they
needed in their journey. thought suggest to him the counsel that follows;
namely, that it would be well for Christians to learn how to do useful work
in order to supply the wants of others as well as their own.
The apostle ends his epistle with the salutations that christian love
always produces; but, as we saw at the beginning, there is not here the
same expansion of heart that we find in Paul's communications to Timothy.
Grace is the same everywhere; but there are special affections and
relationships in the assembly of God.