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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS.
THE apostle, upon leaving Ephesus, from whence he wrote the former
epistle, removed to Troas, in expectation of meeting Titus, and receiving from him an account of the effect that epistle had produced. But not meeting him there, he proceeded to Macedonia, where he obiained this desired interview, and received a promising account of the state of affairs at Corinth. From hence he wrote this second efristle within a year ( some think within half that time after the first; and he sent it by Titus, who was returning to Corinth, to forward the collection for the poor Christians in Judea.
The intention of it was to illustrate some of the points on which he had treated in his former cpistle, according to the account which Titus had given him of the circumstances and temper of the members of this church, interspersing occasional reflections and advices on various topics for their instruction and edification.-More particularly, he advises the restoration of the heinous offender to communion, who had been excluded from it, since he had given proof of his repentance. He further vindicates his own apostolic char. acter, against the objections of the false teachers, who had gained too much. credit with some of his converts ; and he strongly recommends to them liberality in their contributions for the relief of their poor brethren, particularly by the grace of the Redeemer, and gives them some advice with respect to the manner of collecting and transmitting their bounty. His various digressions from his main topics, if duły attended to, will appear no objection to the accuracy and beauty of this excellent composition, though or this account it scarcely admits of a concise analysis.
The apostle expresses his grateful sense of the divine goodness, in preserving
Irinn from imminent dangers in Asia, and his confulence in God's continued suardianship, supported by the consciousness of his integrity. Ch. i. 1-12.
TDAUL an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, and
I Timothy a brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, 2 with all the saints in the whole region of Achaia :: Grace and
peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 4. Father of mercies, and the God of all consolation ; who comfort
eth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those
who are in any tribulation, by the comfort whereby we ourselves 5 are comforted of God. Because as the sufferings we endure in
the cause of Christ, abound with respect to us, so our consolation 6 by Christ doth abound also. For whether we be afflicted, it is in
subservience to your consolation and salvation ; which is effectu. ally wrought out by the patient enduring of the same sufferings,
which we also undergo: or whether we be comforted, it is still 7 for your consolation and salvation. And our hope concerning you. is stedfast* ; knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, 8 so also of the consolation. For we would not have you, brethren,
ignorant concerning our affliction, which befell us in Asia, particularly at Ephesust ; that we were exceedingly pressed beyond
our power; so that we despaired of being able even to live. We 9 were considered by others as dead men: And we ourselves received
the sentence of death in ourselves, that we might learn for the
future, not to trust in ourselves, but in God, who raiseth the 10 dead : who rescued us from so great a death, and doth rescue us
from every danger : in whom we trust that he will still rescue us : 11 you working together in prayer for us, that so the favour obtained
for us by the prayers of many, may be acknowledged by the
thanksgiving of many on our account. And this confidence is 12 promoted by an assurance of our integrity. For this is our rejoic
ing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with carnal wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more especially towards you.
REFLECTIONS. Let the venerable title of saints, by which the apostle so often describes and addresses Christians, be ever retained in our minds; that we may remember the obligations we are under to answer it, as we would avoid the guilt and infamy of lying to God and men, by falsely and hypocritically professing the best religion very possibly to the worst, undoubtedly to the vainest purposes. And that we may be excited to a sanctity becoming this title, let us often think of God as the Father of mercies, and as the God of all consolation; and let us think of him, as assuming these titles, under the character of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ : so shall we find our hearts more powerfully engaged to love and trust in him, and enter into a more intimate acquaintance and frequent converse with him.-From him let us seek consolation in every distress ; considering these supports, which we so experience, not as given for ourselves alone, but for others; that we, on the like principles, may comfori them. Let ministers in particular regard them in this view, and rejoice in those tribulations which may render them more capable of comforting such as are in any trouble, by those consolations with which they themsclves have been comforted by God; that so the church may be edified, and God glorified in all, by the thanksgiving of many, for mercies obtained in answer to united prayers.
Let us particularly remember the support which St. Paul experienced, when he was prcsscd above measure, and, as it seemed, quite beyond his strength, 80 as to despair of life, and received the sentence of
* In several good MSS. these words are connected with the first clause of the 6th verse.
- Somo have thought that he refers to what is relat:d Acts xiv. 19, 20. but more probably it is to more recent events. See Acts xviii. 23. Whitby thinks he speaks of what happened at Ephesus, Acts xix, 29, 30. (This opinion Dr. M. adopts without hesitation.]
death in himself: as what was wisely appointed to teach him a firmer confidence in God who raiseth the dead. Strong as his faith was, it admitted of further degrees; and the improvement of it was a happy equivalent for all the extremities he suffered. He therefore glories, as secure of being rescued from future dangers. Nor was his faith vain, though he afterwards fell by the hand of his enemies, and seemed as helpless a prey to their malice and rage, as any of the multitudes whose blood Nero, or the instruments of his cruelty, poured out like water. Death is itself the grand rescue to a good man, which bears him to a state of everlasting security; and in this sense every believer may adopt the apostle's words, and while he acknowledges past and present, may assuredly boast of future deliverances. Happy shall we therefore be, if by divine grace we are enabled at all times, to maintain the temper and conduct of Christians; and may confidently rejoice in the testimony of our consciences, that our conversation in the world is in simplicity and godly sincerity: that our ends in religion are great and noble ; that our conduct is simple and uniform ; in a word, that we act as in the sight of an heart-searching God. Then may we look upon the applauses, or the censures of men, as comparatively a very light matter ; and may rest assured, if, as with regard to the apostle in the instance before us, he suffers a malignant breath for a while, to obscure the lustre of our character, the day is near, which will reveal it in unclouded glory.
The apostle declares his integrity, particularly in declining his intended visit to
Corinth. Ch. i. 13, &c.
T SPEAK with great freedom of the integrity with which I have act13 I ed among you : for we write no other things to you, but what ye
know and acknowledge; and I hope that ye will acknowledge them 14 even unto the end : as indeed ye have acknowledged us in part*, that
we are your boasting, as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus. 15 And in this confidence, I was long before desirous of coming to
you, that ye might have had a second benefit ( from my ministra. 16 tion) and my scheme was to pass by you into Macedonia, and to
come to you from Macedonia, and be brought forward by you in 17 my journey towards Judea. Now when I intended this, did I
use levity ? Or the things, which I purpose in general, do I purpose according to the flesh, to carnal principles and views ; so that bere should be with me yea, yea, and nay, nay?-_such an uncer
lainty and inconsistency of conduct, that none could depend on me ? 18 4: God is faithful, our word to you hath not been yea and nay, 19 tavering and uncertain : For Jesus Christ, the son of God, who
was preached by us amongst you, that is by me and Silvanus and
* That is, a part of you have done it, though oiliers are not so ready' to dous justice.
20 Timothy, was not yea and nay, inconsistent and contradictory; but in
him all was yea; for Christ is for ever the same, and all the promises
of God are in him yea, and in him anien, to the glory of God by 21 us. For he who also established us together with you in Christ, 22 and hath anointed us to our office, is God; who hath also sealed us, 23 and given us the earnest of the spirit in our hearts. But as to the
late change in my purpose, I call God for a record on my soul, that
it was to spare you much uneasiness that I came not as yet to Co24 rinth ; for had I come, I must have 148ed some severity. Not because
we have any dominion over your faith, but we are helpers of your joy; for by faith ye have hitherto stood, and must stand.
REFLECTIONS. All the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ : let us depend upon it, that they will be performed ; and make it our great care that we may be able to say, that we are interested through him in the blessings to which they relate. Let there be a proportionable steadiness and consistence in our obedience ; and let not our engagements to God be yea and nay, since his to us are so invariably faithful.- Are we established in Christ ? Are we sealed with the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts ? Let us acknowledge that it is God who hath imparted it to us; and let Christians of the greatest steadiness and experience be proportionably humble, rather than by any means elated on account of their superiority to others.
We see the light in which ministers should always consider themselves, and in which they are to be considered by others; not as hav. ing dominion over the faith of their people ; not having a right to dictate by their own authority, what they should believe, or, on the same principles, what they should do ; but as helpers of their joy, in consequence of being helpers of their piety and obedience. In this view, how amiable does the ministerial office appear! What a friendly aspect it wears upon the happiness of mankind; and how little true benevolence do they manifest, who would expose it to ridicule and contempt ! Let those who bear that office, be careful that they do not give it the most dangerous wound, and abet the evil works of those who despise and deride it; which they will most effectually do, if they appear to form their purposes according to the flesh. Let them with a single eye direct all their administrations to the glory of God and the cdification of the church; that they may be able to appeal to their hearers, as those that must acknowledge, and bear their testimony to their uprightness. In that case, they will be able to look on them as those in whom they hope to rejoice in the day of the Lord, And if, while they pursue these ends, they are censured as actuated by any mean and less worthy principle, let them not be much surprised or discouraged : they share in exercises from which the blessed apostle St. Paul wasnot exempted ; as indeed there is no integrity, or caution, which can guard any man from the effects of that malice against Christ and his gospel with which some hearts overflow, when they feel themselves condemned by it.
Paul expresses his affection to the Corinthians, and his sympathy with the offender, who was now penitent, advising his re-admission. He desires to hear of them by Titus. Ch.ü. 1-13.
I SOME of you are scandalized at the delay of my journey: But . I tell you the true reason of it: I determined this with myself,
that I would not come to you again in circumstances which must ex% cite your grief: For if I should grieve you, who should then rejoice 3 with me, unless it be he who is now grieved by me? And therefore
I have written thus to you, that I may not, when I come to you, have grief on account of those for whom I ought to rejoice ; having
this persuasion concerning you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For with much affliction and anguish of heari, I wrote to you some
time ago, with many tears ; not that ye might be grieved, but that 5 ye might know that overflowing love which I bear to you. And if
any one of you hath occasioned grief, he hath only grieved me in part; I am but one among many who have felt this concern: I say
this that I may not overburden you all, as if I charged you with 6 taking part with the offender. And sufficient to such an one is this
rebuke, that he hath already suffered by many, having been cen7 sured by the whole church. So that instead of using further severia
ties, on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest such a one should be swallowed up with an excess of sorrow. 8 Therefore I beseech you to confirm the assurance of your love to 9 him. For to this purpose (also] I have written, that I might have
experience of you, whether ye would be obedient in all things to 10 my decisions. * To whom you forgive any thing offensive, I also
forgive it ; and if I forgive any thing, to whomsoever it may be,
it is for your sakes, in the person of Christ, and by his authority; 11 lest Satan should get an advantage over us, and turn any undue se
verity into an occasion of mischief: for we are not ignorant of his 13 devices. When I came unto. Troas in the service of the gospel 13 of Christ, and there was a door opened to me in the Lord, I had no
rest in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus there ; but taking my leave of them [in Asia], I went into Macedonia, where I had the hanpiness to meet him.
REFLECTIONS. Let ministers learn from hence, after the example of this wise and benevolent apostle, to be very tender of the case and comfort of those committed to their care ; doing nothing to grieve or distress them, unless, as in the case before us, love requires it, in order to their safety and happiness. Let them learn this candid and endearing method of putting the best interpretation upon every thing, and of
“Now to encourage you to this I assure you that ”_M. + Furtherinore.” E. T. “ Moreover"-after the riot of Demetrius. M.