The counsel carries us back to what he had been saying in previous verses.
I. THE RICH ARE WARNED AGAINST A TWOFOLD DANGER. "To those who are rich in this present world give in charge not to be high-minded." It is implied that there were rich men as well as poor slaves in the Church at Ephesus.
1. The danger of high-mindedness. A haughty disposition is often engendered by wealth. The rich may be tempted to look down with contempt on the poor, as if they, forsooth, were the special favorites of Heaven because they had been so highly favored with worldly substance.
2. The danger of trustiest in wealth. "Nor to set their hope upon the uncertainty of riches."
(1) It is a great risk for a rich man to say to gold, "Thou art my hope; and to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence" (Job 31:24),
(2) Our tenure of wealth is very uncertain. It is uncertain
(a) because riches may take to themselves wings and flee away;
(b) because we may be taken away by death from the enjoyment of our possessions;
(c) because riches cannot satisfy the deep hunger of the human heart.
3. The safety of trusting in God. "But upon the living God, who giveth us all things richly for enjoyment."
(1) God is the sole Giver of all we possess.
(2) He giveth to us all richly according to our need.
(3) He giveth it for our enjoyment, so that we may take comfort in his rich provision.
(4) As the living God, he is an unexhaustible Fountain of blessings, so that no uncertainty can ever attach to the supply.
II. THE RICH ARE ENCOURAGED TO MAKE A RIGHT USE OF THEIR WEALTH.
1. "That they do good."
(1) Rich men may do evil to others by fraud or oppression, and evil to themselves by habits of luxury and intemperance.
(2) They are rather to abound in acts of beneficence to all men, and especially to the household of faith, after the example of him who "went about every day doing good" (Acts 10:38).
2. "Rich in good works," as if in opposition to the riches of this world. They are to abound in the doing of them, like Dorcas, who was "full of good works and almsdeeds." Wealth of this sort is the least disappointing both here and hereafter, and has no uncertainty in its results.
3. "Ready to distribute." Willing to give unasked; cheerful in the distribution of their favors; giving without grudging and without delay.
4. "Willing to communicate." As if to recognize, not merely a common humanity, but a common Christianity with the poor. The rich ought to share their possessions with the poor.
III. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO THE DISCHARGE OF THESE DUTIES. "Laying up in store for themselves as a treasure a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold upon the true life."
1. It is possible for rich believers to lay up treasure in heaven. This treasure is a foundation against the time to come.
(1) Not a foundation of merit, for we are only saved by the merits of Christ;
(2) but a foundation in heaven, solid, substantial, and durable - unlike uncertain riches of earth; good in its nature and results - unlike earthly riches, which often are the undoing of men. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" (Luke 16:9).
2. Our riches may have an influence on our true life hereafter. "That they may lay hold on the true life."
(1) Not in the way of merit;
(2) but in the way of grace, fro' the very rewards of the future are of grace;
(3) the end of all our effort is the true life, in contrast to the vain, transitory, short-sighted life of earth. - T.C.
Charge them that are rich in this world. I.
THE DANGERS OF THE RICH are manifold, but only two or three are suggested here.
1. The danger of self-conceit is hinted at in the words, "Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded." The vulgar boasting of wealth, and the ostentatious display of it, are indications of this. Again, the self-sufficiency that leads a successful man to attribute all his gains to his own shrewdness and diligence, and to speak contemptuously of those who never get on in the world, as if God had nothing to do with his physical energy and mental calibre, with the education and training of his youth, or with the unexpected opportunities of his manhood, is another sign of "high-mindedness." The pride which refuses to associate with those whose income is smaller, and which will hold aloof from intelligent and religious men and women, in order to cultivate acquaintance with those whose minds are shallow, but whose establishments are costly, and whose influence in the money market is great.
2. Another danger threatening rich men is that of trusting to uncertain riches. It is on this evanescence that Paul lays stress when he speaks of the folly of trusting to them. He hints at the conquest of this by exercising confidence in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. The remembrance of the fact that God gave you money adds sacredness to it, a sense of responsibility in the use of it, and arouses the gratitude and praise which are His due.
II. THE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE RICH are as noteworthy as their dangers.
1. They can "do good" to others, and many a noble institution has its source in the generous and wise gifts of those whom God has prospered. But besides this —
2. They can do noble things. The words used by Paul, which are both rendered "good" (in the R.V. as well as the A.V.), have not the same meaning in Greek. They would be better translated, "Charge them that they do good, and that they be rich in noble deeds." The latter word used by Paul signifies what is honourable and lovely in itself. It fell from the lips of our Lord when He described Mary's act of devotion. Rich men can afford to make wise and noble experiments in philanthropy and in Christian enterprise.
III. THE RECOMPENSE OF THE RICH who are thus faithful is not obscurely taught in the words which describe them as laying up in store for themselves "a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Of course, Paul does not mean that they gain eternal life by their good works. No one insists more strongly than he does on the fact that salvation is the gift of sovereign grace to the sinful and undeserving. But from its nature this grace becomes a talent, with which we are to do service for God. And since the nature of the future recompense is found in the development of life, all that makes that life more full of possibility and of result lays up in store a good foundation against the time to come. The fact is, that the connection between this life and that is far closer than many imagine it to be.
To trust in riches, is to trust in what we may never acquire; to trust in God, is to trust in Him whom we may always depend on finding.
2. To trust in riches, is to trust in what cannot avail us in the various calamities which occur in the course of human life; to trust in God, is to trust in One who will always be with us in all our straits and trials.
3. To trust in riches, is to trust in what cannot meet the wants of the heart, if it is found; to trust in God, is to trust in One who can fully supply all our need.
4. To trust in riches, is to trust in what we may be deprived of in a moment, or may gradually lose; to trust in God, is to trust in One whom we can never be deprived of, and never shall lose.
5. To trust in riches, is to trust in what we must all part with at last; to trust in God, is to trust in One who will be ours for ever.
6. Many and great are the blessings of every kind which this trust in God, rather than in riches, will secure to us.(1) It will teach us to moderate our desires after riches, and to be less eager than we often are in the pursuit of them.(2) It will show us how we may mingle the right pursuit of temporal things with that supreme regard to spiritual things which their paramount importance entitles them to.(3) It will enable us, when worldly losses come, to bear up patiently and hopefully under them, and to hear the voice of God speaking to us in them.(4) It will teach us the responsibility which is always connected with the possession of any portion of earthly things, and remind us of the account which we must give to God for the way we have used them.
The apostle sets before us, in the text, two applications of the same human affection. He bids us not to "trust in uncertain riches," but to trust "in the living God." He assumes that this trusting impulse exists, and he would not destroy but reform it. He would exhibit the true and eternal object for a tendency in itself indestructible; and would intimate that there is pre pared for the just desires of the soul a sphere of being, adequate to these desires, and from which the present detains us, only as the counterfeit and mockery of it! On the one hand "uncertain riches"; on the other the parallel announcement, that "God giveth us richly all things to enjoy." And thus the Spirit, that spoke in the exhortation of Paul, instructs in the great truth, that the faculties of men are themselves a mechanism for eternity; that it is not they — it is not Love, and Reliance, and Hope, and Desire — but their habitual objects, that man must toil to change. On this important matter, then, I shall first endeavour briefly to engage your attention, and I shall then attempt to illustrate the melancholy extent of the actual perversion of our nature, by showing how, even in their wanderings, these affections betray the higher purpose for which they were primarily intended, and how — more especially in the instance noted in the text, the "trust in riches" man still unconsciously invests with the very attributes of perfect felicity,, of heaven, and of God, the earthly idol to which he sacrifices both! There are those, then, who speak with solemn and prophetic truth of the change which comes over the aspect of the human soul, when, for the first time, "awaking to righteousness," it is introduced (while yet in the world of time) into the eternal world, and becomes cognizant of the glories, till then unseen, that surround "the throne of God and the Lamb." But when, from the dignity and circumstances of the change, men pass to define its natured there is often, it seems to me, much inaccuracy and some imprudence in their statements. We find it sometimes described as if no one element of human nature were to remain in the regenerate spirit. The declaration that a new heart is bestowed is taken in almost the fulness of a literal acceptation. All the old machinery of humanity is discarded; the "works" are, as it were, taken out of the case of the instrument, and a totally new organization of passions and affections provided. The spiritual renewal is thus falsely, I think, and dangerously, made to consist, not in "setting" our emancipated "affections upon things above" — not in the privilege of having "the whole body, and soul, and spirit preserved blameless until the coming of Christ," but in the acquisition of some indescribable affections (if such they may be called), which, though they be named love and desire, are no longer human love and human desire, but differing almost as much, it would seem, from these affections as they are in our hearts, as love and hate differ from each other! Hence that mystic and dangerous mode of representation too common among a large class of teachers, which would exalt the "love to God," for example, beyond all human conception, not merely in the dignity of its object (in which, I need not say, no language could overstate it), but even in the very nature of the feeling; as if the love of a devoted friend was one thing and intelligible, but the love to God quite another affection, and all but incomprehensible! The error of all such cases is the same — the notion that in the work of renewal new faculties are given us, instead of a new direction to the old ones; the notion that God annihilates human nature when He only perfects it; to destroy the channels themselves, instead of cleansing their polluted streams, and then replenishing them for ever with the waters of Paradise! As long as men conceived that the religious affections are in their essence wholly different from every other affection, they will inevitably conclude that the training and discipline for them must be itself equally different. So far for the general principle involved in the particular exhortation of the apostle, the principle that the same affections which cling to the lowly earth are those which must struggle, under celestial guidance, to find their rest in God. "Trust not in riches, but [trust] in the living God!" Blessed invitation I How it exalts, even while it reproves, our fettered nature! Trust, yes, trust with a devotedness such as the wildest frenzy of avarice has never exhibited! Trust, and fear not! It is among the noblest energies of your being — it was never given in vain. Trust, but "trust in the living God!" Preserve unbroken every element of your affections; they are all alike the property of heaven. Be ambitious, but ambitious of the eternal heritage, Labour after knowledge, but let it be "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!" Be it ours to find in the new world unveiled in the gospel the true materials of these holy desires, and so to train them while on earth for the society of heaven. I have but this moment glanced at a topic which might well demand deeper and fuller illustration. I mean the change which the fact of the incarnation of God most rightfully make in all that concerns the laws and regulation of the human affections. For, after all, these affections do, doubtless, strive, in the first instance, towards human objects; human themselves, they naturally cling to the human outside and beyond them. Ever since God became incarnate, this tendency precludes not their direct passage to heaven; nay, it quickens and guides it. It would have been little short of miracle, that even the most pious should maintain the state of perpetual contemplative affection towards the awful essence of the unmingled God. But when that God became man this difficulty was removed. The direct pathway to heaven was opened to the human heart. And the more you regard the passage, the more will you perceive that such views as those I have sketched were, in substance, the views which occupied the inspired teacher. His whole object is manifestly to contrast the two rivals for the human heart, the worlds visible and invisible; and hence it is that the text before us is the natural sequel to the preceding verse, where the glory of the eternal God is unveiled in all its majesty as the object which is to fix the affections of man. There is, proclaims St. Paul (ver. 15), a "blessed and only Potentate," who is hereafter to determine, "in His own time" (as it is emphatically called), the appearing of Christ Jesus in glory. This Being demands, as His inalienable right, all the energies of all the affections; for no inferior claimant can interfere with Him, who is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Then comes the exhortation. Seeing that such a privilege as this is ours (ver. 17), "charge them that are rich in this world," that they interpose not a veil between themselves and this Father of their spirits, or suffer the clouds and vapours of earth to sully or eclipse the beams of this eternal sun. "Charge them, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy!" Our earthly objects of pursuit are themselves clad by hope with colours that rightfully belong only to their celestial rivals; our ordinary earthly longings themselves strain after a really heavenly happiness, while they miss so miserably the way to reach it; that, in other words, in the treasuries of heaven are laid up all that you truly covet, even while, by a wretched illusion, you labour after their mockeries on earth! Surely, if this can be proved, no conceivable argument can more powerfully demonstrate how we are made for religion, and can only find our true rest there! Now the truth is, so wholly are we framed for the eternal world, that we must make a heaven of earth before we can fully enjoy it. God has so inwoven, in the innermost texture of our nature, the title and testimonies of the immortal state for which He made us, that, mingled with the perishable elements of earth, it is, even now, for ever around us; it rises in all our dreams, it colours all our thoughts, it haunts us with longings we cannot repel; in our very vices it reveals itself, for they cannot charm us till they have more or less counterfeited it. There are aspirations turned astray, that, even in their distortion, attest their origin and purpose, There are warped, and crippled, and polluted hopes, that, even from their dungeon of flesh, still cry to heaven. In the spirit of these convictions, turn again to the text. To whom does the apostle enjoin the exhortation? To "them that are rich in this world." What does he here assume? He assumes the existence of wealth, and, involved in that existence, the desire to attain it, which is the necessary motive for its accumulation. He assumes that there resides in the heart of man the desire to build up around it the means of perpetual enjoyment, to secure to itself the materials of happiness — of happiness, for such is the specific essence of moneyed wealth, that may be independent of the moment, and which (as it were, condensed in its representative) may be preserved for a period indefinitely future. But what terms, save these, shall we employ, when we would depict the heaven of the Scripture revelation? What characters are these but the very properties of God's eternal world? And so far is it not manifest that the votary of earthly wealth does in fact, with all the energies of his nature, strain after that very security of unchangeable bliss which we preach; but, mistaking the illusory phantom, weds his whole soul to the fictitious heaven, which the powers of evil have clothed in colours stolen from the skies? The delusion produces its own delusive results. But these also are but the shadowy copies of a bright and holy reality. Every attribute of the eager candidate for earthly happiness and security is but the poor semblance of the very state the Christian already possesses or anticipates. The rich are first warned of the peril of what is here called "high-mindedness"; a word whose happy ambiguity perfectly corresponds to my argument. But as there is a worldly and Satanic high-mindedness, so is this, as before, but the counterfeit presentment of a high-mindedness God-given and celestial. Laying deep its foundations in self-abasement, the doctrine of faith alone bestows the blessed confidence, without which the Christian may be the inconsolable penitent, the mortified ascetic, the prostrate trembler before an offended God; but without which he is, nevertheless, but half a Christian. The happy confidence of the children of God is an element which, though false teaching may exaggerate, no true teaching will ever discard. It is not for nothing that he is bid to rest upon the Rock of Ages, and to anticipate upon earth the repose of immortality. Here, then, is the "high-mindedness" of the Christian; here is the truth to match that worldly falsehood, that high-mindedness base and debasing; here is the bright, unchanging fire, which the votary of this world would rake among the dust and ashes of earth to enkindle! Once more, the "rich in this world" is warned, not merely of the peril of self-exaltation, but also of that of unbounded "trust" in the fleeting riches he accumulates. The contrast I need not here insist on. We have already noticed it, and the apostle himself has expressly enforced it. The "living God" and His liberal graces arise to claim the homage of the "trusting" heart. The dependent on riches makes them his god, in making them the object of his dependence. Heaven is here again defrauded of its own, and all the charms of the Divine character, the charms that fix and fascinate the adoring believer in Christ — its abiding permanence, its just sovereignty, its fixed security, its unshaken falthfulness — all are torn from the throne of God to clothe the idol of the worshipper of wealth!
Every condition of life hath its peculiar dangers to be avoided and duties to be done, but none hath dangers more threatening or duties more important than that of the rich and great: whose situation, notwithstanding, is seldom considered by those who are in it as having anything to be feared; and is generally imagined by others to comprehend almost everything that is to be wished. To be thus environed with temptations, and probably sensible of none of. them, is a most pitiable condition. Now the peculiar dangers of the rich and great arises either from the eminence of their station or the abundance of their wealth: and therefore the text points a caution against each. But I shall be able at present to treat only of the first: which is, THAT THEY BE NOT HIGH-MINDED. Every superiority of every sort, which men only imagine themselves possessed of, is too liable to be over-rated and improperly used. But superior fortune and condition are advantages so visible to all eyes, create such dependences, and give such influence, that it is no wonder if they tempt to uncommon haughtiness. Now undoubtedly distinguished rank is entitled to distinguished regard; and the good order of society very much depends on keeping up that regard; and therefore the great should in a proper manner be much more careful to keep it up than many of them are. But when they nurse up the consciousness of their own superiority into a contemptuous neglect of others and insolent expectations of unfit submissions from them, they have great need to be reminded that respect is paid to wealth and birth because the common good requires it, not because the persons who receive it are always worthy of it; but their dishonourable behaviour will be the more conspicuous for their honourable station. And even supposing them guilty of nothing else to lessen the esteem they claim, yet claiming too much of it, or too openly, will frustrate their intention most effectually. For neither equals nor inferiors will suffer near so much to be extorted from them as they would have bestowed most freely on their own accord. But one sort of condescension to inferiors may be of peculiar advantage; I mean listening to useful information and advice from them, things which the great are very apt to think themselves above, when every one else sees they have much need of them. Neither affluence nor high rank by any means imply superiority of judgment. But if humility in the great could be no ether way beneficial to them, yet avoiding the guilt of so injurious a behaviour as indulging a proud spirit prompts them to, is surely a motive important enough. Thus too many treat their tenants hardly, or permit them to be so treated. Another sort of persons, for whom superiors too commonly will not vouchsafe to have the consideration that they ought, are those who come to them upon business. Obliging such to an unreasonable attendance, making them wait long, and it may be return often, is a very provoking and a very injurious kind of stateliness. But there is another fault still worse frequently joined with this; deeming it beneath their notice whether such of their inferiors as have just and reasonable demands upon them are paid when they ought. Another very blameable and very pernicious instance of high-mindedness in the great is imagining the management of their families an attention too low for them. Even that of their children they very commonly despise to an astonishing degree. Or if they have humility enough to inspect some part of their education, it is usually the outward and showy but less material part. Now proceed to the latter, TRUSTING IN UNCERTAIN RICHES: which phrase comprehends placing the happiness of life either in wealth itself or in those pleasures and amusements which it is commonly made the instrument of procuring. The prohibition therefore of doing this extends to regulate the acquisition, the possession, and use of a great fortune; and to go through the subject fully, each of these points must be considered.
1. The acquisition. In speculation it seems hardly to be expected that any one who is once master of enough to answer his real and reasonable wants should feel any desire almost, on his own account, of having more: that he should take much pains about is very wonderful; and that he should do anything wrong for it quite unaccountable. No temptation is a warrant for doing wrong; but to do wrong without anything that deserves the name of a temptation is exceedingly bad. And it cannes be nature, but merely an absurd habit wilfully indulged, that tempts men to accumulate what they have no need of. But though riches alone render eagerness for more very blameable and unbecoming, yet greatness added to them doubles the fault. For exalted rank absolutely calls for the exercise of honourable disinterestedness.
2. Concerning the possession of it. Now keeping a heap of wealth merely for the sake of keeping it is an apparent absurdity. Keeping it merely for the repute of having it is a very low inducement. And if laying up against future accidents be pretended, a moderate store will suffice for a reasonable security, and nothing can secure us absolutely. Indeed the larger the fortune, the more room for accidents in one part or another of it; and the loss of a small part will be as grievous to a heart set upon riches as that of a larger to another man. Besides, whoever lives only to the purpose of saving and accumulating will be tempted by this ruling passion to a sinful neglect of the poor and the worthy among his friends and dependants, perhaps among his relations and very children. But besides the sins which may be committed in the getting or keeping of wealth, there are —
3. Others, committed too frequently in using it; which persons of superior fortune and rank must be charged to avoid, and which undoubtedly the text comprehends. For putting their trust in riches is just as much the description of those who place the happiness of life in the enjoyment of large estates as those who place it in the possession of them. Some trust in their riches so very inconsiderately that they trust there will never be an end of them, let them be squandered as extravagantly as they will. So they set out with gratifying themselves in everything. Others, if they do not dissipate their estates in so wild a manner, yet use them principally to minister to their sensuality and debauchery; vices which men of superior fortune somehow imagine they have a sort of right to be guilty of. Another very bad use of wealth, in which too many seem to place no small part of their happiness, is that of gaming. But supposing wealth be neither spent in this nor any of the gross vices mentioned before, yet if it be employed in ministering to a course of more decent and refined luxury, or in supporting such a pomp of life as nourishes vanity and pride, or in filling so much time with unprofitable entertainment, that little room is left in the mind for objects of importance: these things also the rich and great must be charged to amend.I proceed to THE DUTIES OF WHICH HE ENJOINS THEY SHALL BE PECULIARLY REMINDED.
1. The first is, to trust in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. After warning them against placing their happiness in the pre-eminences, the possessions or pleasures of this world, it was very natural to direct them where they should place it: for somewhere-we must. And his precept carries the proof of its own fitness along with it. For the living God must have the greatest power to reward our trust, and He who giveth us all things richly to enjoy hath shown Himself to have the greatest will also. Some persons, it may be, when they are pressed upon the subject, will plead that they are by no means without inward regard to God; though they cannot say they give much outward demonstration of it in acts of worship. But supposing them sincere, what reason can there be why respect to God should not be paid outwardly when respect to every superior besides is? But it is possible for us to keep up a sufficient possession of religion to secure both public order and domestic tranquility, yet by no means have a sufficient sense of it for obtaining eternal life; and what will the former avail us without the latter? We should all, therefore, learn to live more to our Maker; to imprint on our hearts and exert in our whole behaviour a stronger sense of His present providence and future rewards. It would be a direction, a security, an improvement, a comfort to us beyond expression.
2. The second duty prescribed in the text as peculiarly necessary for the rich and great is that they do good, that they be rich in good works. If men of rank and fortune observe duly the preceding part of the apostle's charge, they will easily be induced to observe the concluding one. If they are neither so high-minded as to neglect and despise their fellow-creatures, nor so selfish as to trust in uncertain riches, in the acquisition, the possession, or voluptuous enjoyment of them, for their happiness, but expect it only from their acceptance with the living God; they will naturally imitate Him whom they desire to please, particularly in His beneficence, the most amiable of all His perfections. And it is not by their wealth only that they are able and therefore called to do good, but by their whole behaviour. But still, though almsgiving is by no means the whole of beneficence, yet it is an essential part in those whom God hath qualified for it. And He hath given them all things richly and in plenty, not merely for themselves to enjoy in the vulgar sense, but that others may enjoy a due share of them and they the pleasure of imparting it; the worthiest and highest enjoyment of wealth that can be. But, in general, that both our charity and our generosity should bear some decent and liberal proportion to our abilities, and the rich in this world be rich in good works also. Nor is it sufficient for the rich to give plentifully, but they must do it on every fit occasion speedily; be ready to distribute and not stay till the circumstances of the poor are beyond recovery or their spirits broken under the weight of their misfortunes, but make haste to help them and, as far as possible, prevent distress.
A good example of liberality was given by Mr. Thornton, of Clapham, a noble-hearted Christian merchant. One morning, when he had received news of a failure that involved him in a loss of no less than a hundred thousand pounds, a minister from the country called at his countinghouse to ask a subscription for an important object. Hearing that Mr. Thornton had suffered that loss, he apologized for having called. But Mr. Thornton took him kindly by the hand: "My dear sir, the wealth I have is not mine, but the Lord's. It may be that He is going to take it out of my hands and give it to another; and if so, this is a good reason why I should make a good use of what is left." He then doubled the subscription he had formerly intended to give.
That they do good
Live for some purpose in the world. Act your part well. Fill up the measure of duty to others. Conduct yourselves so that you shall be missed with sorrow when you are gone. Multitudes of our species are living in such a selfish manner that they are not likely to be remembered after their disappearance. They leave behind them scarcely any traces of their existence, but are forgotten almost as though they had never been. They are, while they live, like one pebble lying unobserved amongst a million on the shore; and when they die, they are like that same pebble thrown into the sea, which just ruffles the surface, sinks, and is forgotten, without being missed from the beach. They are neither regretted by the rich, wanted by the poor, nor celebrated by the learned. Who has been the better for their life? Who has been the worse for their death? Whose tears have they dried up? whose wants supplied? whose miseries have they healed? Who would unbar the gate of life to re-admit them to existence? or what face would greet them back again to our world with a smile? Wretched, unproductive mode of existence! Selfishness is its own curse; it is a starving vice. The man who does no good gets none. He is like the heath in the desert, neither yielding fruit nor seeing when good cometh — a stunted, dwarfish, miserable shrub.
We shall then know better than we do now know that every soul on its way to eternity has its appointed times and seasons of good, which, if they be allowed to pass away shall never, never return again. Though the person be not lost, yet the innocence, the heroism, the saintliness, may be. We must, therefore, lose no opportunity of doing good to the souls and bodies of those whom God's good providence has put under our care, because if we miss it by our own fault, it may never again be allowed to us; the persons whom God intended us to profit may be taken out of our reach, may be taken into another world before they come in our way again.
An eminent surgeon, who was also an eminent Christian, visited a lady who was a professed believer in Christ, but who, like some ladies I have heard of, was frequently troubled with imaginary diseases. The good doctor was frequently called in, until at last he said to her, "Madam, I will give you a prescription which I am certain will make a healthy woman of you, if you will follow it." "Sir," she said, "I shall be so glad to have good health that I will be sure to follow it." "Madam, I will send you the prescription this evening." When it arrived it consisted of these words, "Do good to somebody." She roused herself to relieve a poor neighbour, and then sought out others who needed her help, and the Christian woman, who had been so constantly desponding and nervous, became a healthy, cheerful woman, for she had an object to live for, and found joy in doing good to others.
TopicsAffords, Age, Arrogant, Chances, Charge, Conceited, Enjoin, Enjoy, Enjoyment, Fix, Foundation, Full, Furnishes, Gives, Giveth, Giving, Goods, Haughty, Highminded, High-minded, Hope, Hopes, Impress, Instruct, Lifted, Measure, Minds, Money, Orders, Present, Provides, Rich, Riches, Richly, Supplies, Trust, Uncertain, Uncertainty, Unstable, Wealth
Outline1. Of the duty of servants.3. Not to have fellowship with newfangled teachers.6. Godliness is great gain;10. and love of money the root of all evil.11. What Timothy is to flee, and what to follow.17. and whereof to admonish the rich.20. To keep the purity of true doctrine, and to avoid godless ideas.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Timothy 6:17
4966 present, the
5413 money, attitudes
5956 strength, human
6704 peace, divine NT
8032 trust, lack of
8211 commitment, to world
8261 generosity, God's
8435 giving, of oneself
8810 riches, dangers
9611 hope, nature of
1 Timothy 6:17-18
5449 poverty, remedies
5871 greed, response to
7925 fellowship, among believers
8215 confidence, results
8405 commands, in NT
1 Timothy 6:17-19
4030 world, behaviour in
5503 rich, the
8442 good works
8780 materialism, and sin
8811 riches, attitudes to
LibraryThe Conduct that Secures the Real Life
'Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.'--1 TIM. vi. 19. In the first flush of the sense of brotherhood, the Church of Jerusalem tried the experiment of having all things in common. It was not a success, it was soon abandoned, it never spread. In the later history of the Church, and especially in these last Pauline letters, we see clearly that distinctions of pecuniary position were very definitely marked amongst the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
One Witness, Many Confessors
'Thou . . . hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, 14. That thou keep this commandment. . . .'--1 TIM. vi. 12-14. You will observe that 'a good confession,' or rather 'the good confession,' is said here to have been made both by Timothy and by Christ. But you will observe also that whilst the subject-matter is the same, the action …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
August the Thirty-First the Real Gains and Losses
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." --1 TIMOTHY vi. 6-16. And so I must go into my heart if I would make a true estimate of my gains and losses. The calculation is not to be made in my bank-books, or as I stride over my broad acres, or inspect my well-filled barns. These are the mere outsides of things, and do not enter into the real balance-sheet of my life. We can no more estimate the success of a life by methods like these than we can adjudge an oil-painting by the sense of smell. What …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
"We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."--1 Tim. vi. 7, 8. Every age has its own special sins and temptations. Impatience with their lot, murmuring, grudging, unthankfulness, discontent, are sins common to men at all times, but I suppose one of those sins which belongs to our age more than to another, is desire of a greater portion of worldly goods than God has given us,--ambition and covetousness …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.' (1 Timothy vi. 12.) My object, in announcing 'Fighting Holiness' as my subject, is to make it quite clear that a Full Salvation does not mean a hot-house emotionalism or glass-case sanctity, but a vigorous, daring, aggressive religion, on the lines of the Saviour's words, 'The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force'. If this text, 'Fight the good fight of faith', means anything at all, it means you must …
T. H. Howard—Standards of Life and Service
A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God, Out of the Holy Scripture, So Far as Every Christian must Competently Know, and Necessarily Believe, that Will be Saves.
Although no creature can define what God is, because he is incomprehensible (Psal. cxliii. 3) and dwelling in inaccessible light (1 Tim. vi. 16); yet it has pleased his majesty to reveal himself to us in his word, so far as our weak capacity can best conceive him. Thus: God is that one spiritual and infinitely perfect essence, whose being is of himself eternally (Deut. i. 4; iv. 35; xxxii. 39; vi. 4; Isa. xlv. 5-8; 1 Cor. viii. 4; Eph. iv. 5, 6; 1 Tim. ii. 5; John iv. 24; 2 Cor. iii. 17; 1 Kings …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Final Settlement of the Church by St. John
A.D. 67-100 It seems probable that most of the Apostles had entered into rest before the Destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and that St. John the Divine was the only one of the Apostolic body who long survived that event. [Sidenote: St. Peter began to found the Church, St. John completed its foundation.] To St. Peter, one of the "pillars" of the Church, it had been given to begin the great work of laying the foundation of the Mystical Temple of God; to St. John, the other of the two, was allotted …
John Henry Blunt—A Key to the Knowledge of Church History
Spoken in Antioch in the Old Church, as it was Called...
Spoken in Antioch in the Old Church, as it was called, while he was a presbyter, on the subject of the calamity that had befallen the city in consequence of the tumult connected with the overthrow of the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius, the Great and Pious. And on the saying of the Apostle, "Charge them that are rich that they be not high-minded," 1 Timothy vi. 17. And against covetousness. 1. What shall I say, or what shall I speak of? The present season is one for tears, and not for words; for …
St. Chrysostom—On the Priesthood
Exposition of St. Paul's Words. --1 Tim. vi. 20.
Exposition of St. Paul's Words.--1 Tim. vi. 20. [51.] Such being the case, when I think over these things, and revolve them in my mind again and again, I cannot sufficiently wonder at the madness of certain men, at the impiety of their blinded understanding, at their lust of error, such that, not content with the rule of faith delivered once for all, and received from the times of old, they are every day seeking one novelty after another, and are constantly longing to add, change, take away, in religion, …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
A More Particular Exposition of 1 Tim. ...
A more particular Exposition of 1 Tim. vi. 20. [53.] But it is worth while to expound the whole of that passage of the apostle more fully, "O Timothy, keep the deposit, avoiding profane novelties of words." "O!" The exclamation implies fore-knowledge as well as charity. For he mourned in anticipation over the errors which he foresaw. Who is the Timothy of to-day, but either generally the Universal Church, or in particular, the whole body of The Prelacy, whom it behoves either themselves to possess …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
Continuation of the Exposition of 1 Tim. ...
Continuation of the Exposition of 1 Tim. vi. 20. [60.] But let us return to the apostle. "O Timothy," he says, "Guard the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words." "Shun them as you would a viper, as you would a scorpion, as you would a basilisk, lest they smite you not only with their touch, but even with their eyes and breath." What is "to shun"? Not even to eat  with a person of this sort. What is "shun"? "If anyone," says St. John, "come to you and bring not this doctrine. What doctrine? …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
The Light of Glory.
Having, in the foregoing chapters, endeavored to form an idea of heaven's happiness, we must now endeavor to understand something of the different degrees in which each one of the blessed enjoys that unspeakable beatitude. It is an article of faith that every one in heaven, except baptized infants, is rewarded according to his own personal merits, acquired in this life by the assistance of God's grace. Baptized children, who die before they reach the age of discretion, are admitted into heaven, in …
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven
Wherefore Even they which Having Relinquished or Distributed their Former...
33. Wherefore even they which having relinquished or distributed their former, whether ample or in any sort opulent, means, have chosen with pious and wholesome humility to be numbered among the poor of Christ; if they be so strong in body and free from ecclesiastical occupations, (albeit, bringing as they do so great a proof of their purpose, and conferring from their former havings, either very much, or not a little, upon the indigence of the same society, the common fund itself and brotherly charity …
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.
How Servants and Masters are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 6). Differently to be admonished are servants and masters. Servants, to wit, that they ever keep in view the humility of their condition; but masters, that they lose not recollection of their nature, in which they are constituted on an equality with servants. Servants are to be admonished that they despise not their masters, lest they offend God, if by behaving themselves proudly they gainsay His ordinance: masters, too, are to be admonished, that they are proud against God with respect …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
How the Poor and the Rich Should be Admonished.
(Admonition 3.) Differently to be admonished are the poor and the rich: for to the former we ought to offer the solace of comfort against tribulation, but in the latter to induce fear as against elation. For to the poor one it is said by the Lord through the prophet, Fear not, for thou shalt not be confounded (Isai. liv. 4). And not long after, soothing her, He says, O thou poor little one, tossed with tempest (Ibid. 11). And again He comforts her, saying, I have chosen thee in the furnace of …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Conflict and Comfort.
"For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ."--COL. ii. 1, 2. Although he was in prison the Apostle was constantly at work for his Master, and not least of all at the work of prayer. If ever the words …
W. H. Griffith Thomas—The Prayers of St. Paul
"But Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God," &C.
Matt. vi. 33.--"But seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. O "seekest thou great things for thyself," says God to Baruch, (Jer. xlv. 5) "seek them not." How then doth he command us in the text to seek a kingdom? Is not this a great thing? Certainly it is greater than those great things he would not have Baruch to seek after, and yet he charges us to seek after it. In every kind of creatures there is some difference, some greater, some lesser, some higher, some lower; so there are some men far above …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Letter Xlvii to the Brother of William, a Monk of Clairvaux.
To the Brother of William, a Monk of Clairvaux.  Bernard, after having made a striking commendation of religious poverty, reproaches in him an affection too great for worldly things, to the detriment of the poor and of his own soul, so that he preferred to yield them up only to death, rather than for the love of Christ. 1. Although you are unknown to me by face, and although distant from me in body, yet you are my friend, and this friendship between us makes you to be present and familiar to …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
A Few Sighs from Hell;
or, The Groans of the Damned Soul: or, An Exposition of those Words in the Sixteenth of Luke, Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar WHEREIN IS DISCOVERED THE LAMENTABLE STATE OF THE DAMNED; THEIR CRIES, THEIR DESIRES IN THEIR DISTRESSES, WITH THE DETERMINATION OF GOD UPON THEM. A GOOD WARNING WORD TO SINNERS, BOTH OLD AND YOUNG, TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BETIMES, AND TO SEEK, BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, TO AVOID, LEST THEY COME INTO THE SAME PLACE OF TORMENT. Also, a Brief Discourse touching the …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
"For to be Carnally Minded is Death; but to be Spiritually Minded is Life and Peace. "
Rom. viii. 6.--"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." It is true, this time is short, and so short that scarce can similitudes or comparisons be had to shadow it out unto us. It is a dream, a moment, a vapour, a flood, a flower, and whatsoever can be more fading or perishing; and therefore it is not in itself very considerable, yet in another respect it is of all things the most precious, and worthy of the deepest attention and most serious consideration; …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Age of the Apostles (Ad 33-100)
The beginning of the Christian Church is reckoned from the great day on which the Holy Ghost came down, according as our Lord had promised to His Apostles. At that time, "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven," were gathered together at Jerusalem, to keep the Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks), which was one of the three holy seasons at which God required His people to appear before Him in the place which He had chosen (Deuteronomy xvi. 16). Many of these devout men there converted …
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation
"But we are all as an Unclean Thing, and all Our Righteousnesses are as Filthy Rags,"
Isaiah lxiv 6, 7.--"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," &c. This people's condition agreeth well with ours, though the Lord's dealing be very different. The confessory part of this prayer belongeth to us now; and strange it is, that there is such odds of the Lord's dispensations, when there is no difference in our conditions; always we know not how soon the complaint may be ours also. This prayer was prayed long before the judgment and captivity came …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Unchangeableness of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness. I am Jehovah, I change not.' Mal 3:3. I. God is unchangeable in his nature. II. In his decree. I. Unchangeable in his nature. 1. There is no eclipse of his brightness. 2. No period put to his being.  No eclipse of his brightness. His essence shines with a fixed lustre. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' James 1:17. Thou art the same.' Psa 102:27. All created things are full of vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
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