God the Holy Ghost is here introduced as speaking expressly of the Latter-day Heresies. Paul cautions Timothy to be on the look-out with the Church against the Times of such Peril.
(1) В¶ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (2) Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (3) Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: (5) For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
The opening of this chapter is uncommonly interesting. When God the Spirit speaks, well may man hear. But beside this attention in a general way, there is somewhat here, which from the manner of expression made use of, calls up that attention with more awakened earnestness. God the Spirit speaketh expressly. We do not find a similar phrase in all the Bible. We very frequently hear of the Lord speaking by his servants the Prophets, in the Old Testament Scripture, saying, Thus saith the Lord; and, The Lord hath spoken. But here the Spirit, in his Person, is described as speaking, and speaking expressly. Was it not as if to silence the awful blasphemy, of the latter day times, which we now live to see, when his Almighty Person, and ministry, and glory, in the economy of grace, are so openly denied? If the Spirit speaketh expressly, can He be otherwise than a Person who thus performs the action of a Person? And if the Spirit at such a distance as Paul wrote, spoke expressly in declaring the heresies which should come in the last days, could He be less than God who thus exercised the perfection and attribute of foreknowledge? And if the Holy Ghost thus spake in the Church at that period, did He not thereby exercise his ministry in the Church when he thus presided over? Reader! if this verse alone be fully considered, what an unanswerable decision doth it give to the blasphemies of some, and the disregard of others, in this God dishonoring Christ-despising, Holy Ghost disowning generation?
I do not think it necessary in this place, to go over again the many precious testimonies with which the word of God abounds, to the Person and ministry of God the Holy Ghost, having already, in many parts of this Poor Man's Commentary, somewhat largely considered the subject. I would particularly refer the Reader on this account to Acts 2:1 and Acts 13:1 and Hebrews 9:1
But we must not stop here. If the Spirit speaketh expressly, and speaketh of the latter-day heresies, which so plainly refer to our own times, we have yet a more abundant reason to attend, and to hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. Revelation 2:29. The relation of them is truly awful. Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Oh! what a trembling account! But, blessed be God, though some shall be thus found, yet not all. And the faith, though some depart from, is not the faith of God's elect; for God hath said of all such that in the everlasting covenant he hath made with them, he will put his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him. Titus 1:1; Jeremiah 32:40. A departure from the mere faith of a profession, may be, and indeed must be, for it holds by nothing which can keep it. It was taken up by hearsay, or head-knowledge, and will be put down again when these fail. But where God the Spirit regenerates, there the faith of God's elect is given, and through grace, the soul then chooses that good part, which shall not be taken away. Luke 10:42
I cannot, in a work of this kind, enter into a long discourse concerning the heresies here spoken of expressly by the Holy Ghost. Very sure I am, that the same Almighty Lord who foretold the people of their coming, will keep his people from finally falling by them. But it is impossible to say to what lengths they may be permitted to proceed. It is the happiness of the Church, however, that their security is in Christ, And though the Lord Jesus hath admonished his people, that there will be awful judgments, and delusions so great, that, if it were possible, they would deceive even the very elect; yet the Lord's most gracious words, while he speaks of those things, decidedly prove, at the same time, that to deceive them is impossible. Mark 13:22
What greater apostacy, among Professors of Christianity, than the present days manifest, may be yet for to come, I know not, and what seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, as we approach nearer the end of the world will appear, is not for me to conceive. Very much more than even the crying sins which now come with uncovered front before us, may, according to Scripture, be looked for. Mark 13:20; Revelation 12:12. But, in my apprehension, there never was a period, since the Reformation of less vital godliness, and more of the form and carcase of religion, than the present. It is too notorious to be unknown, and too awful to be known without trembling for the eventual consequences. But, when we find a liberty assumed, under the cover of religious freedom, of denying all the glorious and distinguishing truths of our most holy faith, and both the press and pulpit, in every direction, teem with discourses which set at nought that faith which was once delivered unto the saints, we may reasonably conclude that impending judgments are not far remote. Jude 1:3-7
And what appears to me among the most alarming signs of the present times is, that many who profess themselves the glorious truths, which distinguish our holy faith, manifest a total indifferency as to the conviction of them by others. There is a spirit of accommodation crept in among us, under the specious covering of universal love, which makes a sacrifice of divine truths. We conceal our belief in what is dearer to us than life, in order that those with whom we mingle for general purposes of charity, may not take offence. And we fondly persuade ourselves that all descriptions of religion may meet together, and join to promote the divine glory, when those blessed truths which bring the greatest glory to the Lord, are cautiously kept out of view. Surely, that faith can be but little valued by us, if fearful to be owned. And if the Godhead of Christ, redemption by his blood, justification by his righteousness, be dearer to me, (as that they are), than my necessary food, I cannot, I dare not, conceal those sentiments, nor knowingly join with those who deny them, under the mistaken idea of promoting the divine glory, while restraining the open confession of my faith to the divine praise. The Lord pardon me if I err. But according to my view of things, this accommodating spirit is among the most awful signs of the present day. I know that I am singular. But it appears a time to be singular. God the Spirit hath spoken expressly of those latter ages of the Church. Consistent with my apprehension of the Lord's speaking, let others think as they may, I cannot think otherwise than I have said. Though concealing our attachment to the great truths of God, may not amount to a denial, yet is it not a tacit departure from the faith? Though not giving heed to seducing spirits, yet is it not giving in to a Laodicean spirit, which the Son of God so highly condemns? Revelation 3:15-16.
(6) В¶ If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. (7) But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (8) For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (9) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
The Apostle's advice to Timothy, is in no small degree of correspondence to what I have on the preceding verses remarked. If it behoved this young man to put the brethren in mind of those great truths Paul had before been delivering to him, and if by doing so he would show himself to be a good minister of Jesus Christ, the same holds good of all the Lord's people, whether ministers or saints, in all ages of the Church. And if the Spirit hath spoken expressly of the latter-day heresies, it must be an awful thing in them who profess faith in the momentous truths of the Gospel, to be silent about them, when heresies appear!
(10) For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. (11) These things command and teach. (12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (13) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (14) Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (15) Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (16) Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
If in connection with what the Apostle here saith of the living God being the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe, the Reader will consult what was offered in this Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4 he will, under divine teaching, discover in what sense both those Scriptures are intended. God our Savior is, in truth, the Savior of all men, in nature, and providence. For He is both the Maker and Upholder of all things. The very enemies of Christ, are upheld by Christ; for all power is his, in heaven, and in earth. In his mysterious union of Person, and his government; everything is ruled by his control. The deceived and the deceiver are his. Job 12:16. See those scriptures, Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:10. Hence it is most truly and blessedly said, that Christ is the Savior of all men. For he killeth, and he maketh alive; he wounds and he heals. Deuteronomy 32:39. But while those things are strictly true, in relation to the departments, both of nature and providence; in the departments of grace and glory, as this scripture most blessedly adds, he is specially the Savior of those that believe. In no sense but the former, as relating to temporal things; can Jesus be said to be the Savior of all men. And in none but the latter, in things both temporal, spiritual, and eternal; can any but his body the Church have claim? Ephesians 1:22-23. Oh! if the world did but consider how much they owe their preservation, and the enjoyment of the most common blessings of nature and providence, to the Lord Jesus, how would they stand amazed at his goodness, and be shocked at their own undeservings! And if the Lord's people had but a more lively sense of their special mercies, in all the departments of life, nature, providence, grace, and glory: how would their souls be often melted in them, in the contemplation of that love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. Ephesians 3:19
I detain the Reader no longer, than just to observe, what a lovely representation is given, in the different parts of this Chapter, of what constitutes a faithful Minister of Christ! And what a life, if closely followed up, in the various departments of it, must be such a service? Happy the Lord's people who have such a servant! And happy the people who have the Lord for their God!
O Lord the Spirit! let thy Church have grace to praise thee, for the love manifested towards it, and thy watchful care over it, through all generations. Yea, blessed Lord, we have to thank thee for the gracious warnings, which thou hast expressly spoken of concerning the awful heresies which will beset the church from the world. Truly, Lord, there are already many Antichrists, by which we know it is the last time. O do thou help thy truly regenerated ones to resist all and everyone of them, whether seducing spirits, or doctrines of devils, and be stedfast in the faith: and when at any time the Enemy cometh in like a flood, do thou, Almighty Spirit; lift up a standard against him!
Be gracious also to the Ministers, and Stewards, of thy mysteries. Cause them to put the brethren in remembrance of all the great and glorious truths of our most holy faith; that they may prove themselves good ministers of Jesus Christ, nourished up in, the words of faith, and of good doctrine; refusing profane and old wives' fables, and exercising themselves unto godliness.
And, dearest Lord Jesus! we praise thee for thy upholding, and preserving providence, over all men; and specially for thy saving health unto thy people. Here we learn, O Lord, how it is for thy sake the world standeth; and while thou art carrying on thy salvation, the ungodly remain. And until thou hast brought home thy redeemed to glory, the seed time and harvest, the tares and the wheat, shall not cease. Oh! let thy children learn to whom the whole difference is owing. And while they enjoy thy distinguishing race, often may they hear the voice: Destroy it not: for a blessing is in it!