1 Timothy 6:1-2
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor…
I. First I am to consider WHAT JUST GROUND OR COLOUR THERE MAY BE FOR A COMPLAINT OF THE EXCEEDING WICKEDNESS OF MEN NOW UNDER THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION. And here it may with truth be observed to the advantage of our holy religion, that, as bad as men are under it, they would have yet been worse without it. The rule by which Christians are obliged to walk is so excellent, and they are thereby so fully and clearly informed of the whole extent of their duty; the promised assistances are so mighty and the rewards so vast, by which they are animated to obedience; that their transgressions, as they are attended with a deeper guilt, so must needs appear to be of a more prodigious size than those of other men. And it is no wonder, therefore, if, on both these accounts, good and holy persons have spoken of them with a particular degree of detestation and horror. And as the vices of Christians are, for these reasons, open and glaring, so their virtues oftentimes disappear and lie hid. The profound humility and self-denial, which the Christian religion first enjoined, leads the true disciples of Christ, in the exercise of the chief gospel graces, to shun the applause and sight of men as much as is possible. On these, and such accounts as these, I say vice seems to have the odds of virtue among those who name the name of Christ, much more than it really hath.
II. Secondly, THAT THEY ARE VERY UNREASONABLE IN SO DOING, I AM IN THE NEXT PLACE TO SHOW. For —
1. The holiest and purest doctrine imaginable is but doctrine still; it can only instruct, admonish, or persuade; it cannot compel. The gospel means of grace, powerful as they are, yet are not, and ought not to be, irresistible. Let the gospel have never so little success in promoting holiness, yet all who have considered it must own that it is in itself as fit as anything that can be imagined for that purpose, and incomparably more fit than any other course that ever was taken. Did philosophy suffer in the opinion of wise men on account of the debaucheries that reigned in those ages, wherein it flourished most among the Grecians and Romans? Was it then thought a good inference that, because men were very dissolute when wisdom was at the height, and the light of reason shone brightest, therefore wisdom and reason were of little use towards making men virtuous?
2. The present wickedness of Christians cannot be owing to any defect in the doctrine of Christ, nor be urged as a proof of the real inefficacy of it towards rendering men holy;Because there was a time when it had all the success of this kind that could be expected; the time, I mean, of its earliest appearance in the world; when the practice of the generality of Christians was a just comment on the precepts of Christ; and they could appeal from their doctrines to their lives, and challenge their worst enemies to show any remarkable difference between them.
1. There must needs be a great disparity between the first Christians and those of these latter ages; because Christianity was the religion of their choice. They took it up while it was persecuted.
2. Another account of the great degeneracy of Christians may be drawn from men's erecting new schemes of Christianity which interfere with the true and genuine account of it.
3. It is not to be expected but that, where Christians are wicked, they should be rather worse than other men; for this very reason, because they have more helps towards becoming better, and yet live in the contempt or neglect of them.
III. SOME MORE PROPER AND NATURAL INFERENCES THAT MAY BE DRAWN FROM IT. They are many and weighty. And —
1. This should be so far from shocking our faith, that it ought on the contrary to confirm and strengthen it; for the universal degeneracy of Christians in these latter days was plainly and punctually foretold by Christ and His apostles.
2. Consider the monstrous degree of pravity and perverseness that is hid in the heart of man, and to account for the rise of it.
3. Learn from thence not to measure doctrines by persons, or persons by doctrines: that is, not to make the one a complete rule and standard whereby to judge of the goodness or badness of the other.
4. To excite ourselves from thence to do what in us lies towards removing this scandal from the Christian faith at large, and from that particular church of Christ to which we belong; both by living ourselves as becomes our holy religion; and by influencing others, as we have ability and opportunity, to live as we do; that so both we and they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things (Titus 2:10).
Parallel VersesKJV: Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
WEB: Let as many as are bondservants under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and the doctrine not be blasphemed.