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According to the faith of God's elect, and the knowledge of the truth - Titus 1:1
These seem to have been the two guiding stars of the apostle's life - faith and knowledge. Some are afraid of the conjunction. The men of faith are afraid of science, and the men of science often despise faith. But they are not antagonistic.
Faith. - The faith that inspires all elect souls is one and the same. In some there may be more, in others less; but its attitude toward God and its phases of experience, trial, and triumph, are the same in all who believe. In addition to this, the general facts and truths on which our faith lays hold, and from which it extracts its nourishment, are the same: and it is a comfort to know that these have been passed on from age to age from the earliest days, and that we are called to believe in them, and hold them fast.
Knowledge of the Truth. - We need not fear or shun knowledge, which is simply the exploring and discovery of the ways and thoughts of God. "Let knowledge grow from more to more." Only let her always concern herself with the great facts and methods of God's universe, rather than with human speculation and fancy. There is a distinction between knowledge and wisdom. The one may be only intellectual; the other is always moral. Those who pretend to know are not always wise; but the wise always know.
Godliness. - True knowledge will make you godly, reverent, devout; filling you with the Spirit of God within, and with likeness to God without. It is only as you are godly, that you will really be wise and know things that are hidden from the wise and prudent. True knowledge leads to godliness, and godliness back to knowledge.
Who gave himself for us, that fare might redeem us from all iniquity - Titus 2:14
After all that we have professed and learned, how hard it is to believe that God intends just what He says! When the Holy Spirit says all, He clearly means ALL. And we are, therefore, taught that the death of Jesus was intended, not for our forgiveness and justification merely, but for our sanctification, and our deliverance from the power of all our besetting sins. The text does not promise freedom from temptation; but from all yielding to habits, dispositions, and tempers of soul which have ruthlessly tyrannized over us as Egypt over Israel.
Jesus died for thee, O child of God, that having been set free from the bondage of all iniquity thou mightest live soberly as regards the use of the world, righteously toward thy fellows, and godly toward the Almighty, and "looking for that blessed hope." The grace of God has appeared; His glory will appear. There has been an Epiphany of the one; there shall be as certainly an Epiphany of the other. Many awaited the first; more shall await the second. The one was in humiliation; the other shall be in glory: the one was as a Babe; the other shall be in the glory of the Divine Man. But till then we are called to wait with garments unspotted from the world, and hearts delivered from the love and power of human sin.
Let us teach the world that God has something tangible and practicable to give - not for the next life only, but for this. We are taught by that gentle school-mistress, the Grace of God, to live soberly, as regards our personal life; righteously, in relation to others; godly, in our attitude toward God. Wesley says, "Until you press believers to accept full salvation now, you must not look for any revival,"
The kindness and love of God our saviour toward man appeared - Titus 3:4
The emphasis must surely rest on appeared. Kindness and love toward man were always in the heart of God, but they were not clearly revealed. They might have been perceived in the order of nature and human life; but there are stormy winds as well as zephyrs in the one - and in the other deaths as well as births; knells of hope as well as marriage peals. But in Jesus the true heart of God toward man was manifested. It is thus in human life.
At first God blessed us anonymously. - In Cowper's memoirs we read how Theodora, his cousin, pursued him throughout his sad life with her gifts; but they always came without indication of their source. As the poet unwrapped his new-come treasure, he would say, "Dear Anonymous has come again; God bless him." So, through years of thoughtless childhood, and afterward in opening youth, we were the recipients of myriads of gifts contrived with the most exquisite skill to give us pleasure; but we did not trace them to their source. They were from God.
Since then His grace and loving kindness have appeared. - We have had eyes to see, and hearts to understand. The Anonymous Benefactor is now recognized as our Father and Friend. We no longer praise our earthly loves for our cornfields and vineyards, but our Heavenly Spouse (Hosea 2.). In the breaking of the bread we have recognized the Son of God, and we know now who it was that walked with us along the path of life, and why our hearts burned.
"Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee."