« הקודםהמשך »
parent; that so that friendship might be established between earth and heaven, which may bring down daily anticipations of heaven to earth! Amen.
The temper with which, in the midst of all their afflictions and persecutions,
the apostles prosecuted their important embassy. Ch. vi. 3-10.
TITHILE we are employed in. negotiating this affair, we are
careful to behave [with discretion :] giving no offence by 4 any part of our conduct ; that the ministry be not blamed : but in
every respect approving ourselves as the ministers of God; in 5 much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in straits, in stripes,
in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watching, in fasting, 6 in purity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in gentleness, in the 7 Holy Spirit, in undissembled love ; in the word of truth, in the
power of God, with the armour of righteousness on the right hand 8 and the left : through honour and dishonour ; through evil re9 port, and good report ; as deceivers, yet true ; as unknown, yet
well-known ; as dying, yet behold we live ; as chastened, yet not 10 killed ; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enrich
ing many ; as having nothing, yet possessing all things*.
REFLECTIONS. Whose soul can remain untouched, while he reads this eloquent period, in which the apostle's mouth is (as he afterwards expresses it) thus opened, in consequence of his heart's being enlarged! In how lively, yet unaffected a manner, does this sacred writer paint his own character and circumstances; and how much profound and important sense is there in those paradoxes which he so naturally introduces on this occasion ! Let the ministers of the gospel herein behold, at once, their model and their support. Let them cultivate this inoffen. sive behaviour, not only out of regard to themselves, but that their office may not be censured; and still approve themselves the servants of God, by patience amidst all their tribulations, their necessities and their pressures ; and, so far as their circumstances require it, by labours, by watchings, and fastings; especially when by an indulgent providence they are not called to do it in stripes, in imprisonments, and in tumulls. Still let them cultivate purity and knowledge, long sufferings and gentle. ness, with unfeigned love in the Holy Ghost. Aided by him, let them arm themselves with the word of truth, and in the strength of God, gird on the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. Thus fortified, they may boldly break their way through honour and infamy, through praise and reproach; as we plainly see that infamy and reproach may be the portion of the best of men, and the most useful members of society. Who are we, that we should refuse a cup of
* This is certainly one of the sublimest passages that was ever written. Compare Phil. iv. 18. 1 Tim. vi. 17, Eph. i. 3. Rev. xxi. 7. 1. Cor. ii. 21
which the apostles and our Lord drank so deep? But let us be supe. rior to human censures. If any call us deceivers, let us shew that we are invariably true to the intersts of God and of goodness. If they affect to overlook us as unknown, and beneath their notice, let us endeavour to render ourselves well known, by the benefits which, by divine grace, we are the instruments of conferring on men's souls. So shall we be always rejoicing in the midst of those sorrows of which nature cannot be entirely insensible ; whilst amidst our poverty we are enriching many, yea then, though we have nothing that we can call our own, we shall possess all things; shall appear in the eyes of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the richest and the happiest of mankind, eren though we were in other respects, of all men the most miserable.
While we consider this as the character of the first preachers of Christianity, which, with so noble a plainness and simplicity they profess, let us adore the divine grace by which such a spirit was raised in the world, and by which it hath in some measure been maintained, even to this day. And let it encourage our most earnest and affectionate prayers, that God would raise up in every age (and especially in our own, in which they seem so ready to fail) a generation of evangelical ministers; who, fired with such generous principles of action, and emulating so noble a character, may commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, and roll away that reproach which unworthy men have brought on the most excellent of all offices. Thus armed, may they extend their happy conquests; thus animated, may they ste of the travail of their soul, to their abundant, their everlasting satisfaction and delight..
Cautions against an alliance with idolaters; the firomises of God, to his peo
ple, an engagement to purity, and high attainments in religion. Ch. vi. 11. vii. 1.
YE Corinthians, our mouth is opened to you, our heart is 12 U enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, for we are ready to de
all we can for your comfort and happiness; but ye are some of you 13 straitened in your own bowels, in your affection for me. There
fore for that very recompence* (I speak as to my children) be ye
also enlarged in affection towards me (80 as to harken to this my pa14 ternal advice). Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers ; for
what participation hath righteousness with unrighteousness? Or 15 what communion hath the light with darkness? Or what concord
is there between Christ and Belial? Or what part hath a believer 16 with an infidel? And what consistence hath the temple of God
with ilols ? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath
said, “I will dwell in them, and walk among them, and I will be 17 their God, and they shall be my people (Lev. xxvi. 12.) There
*“Now the same recompence I request”-i. e. in return for my affections to you.-M.
fore (as God said to Israel, with respect to idolaters of old, (Is. liii. 11.) “ Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith
the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, 18 and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be to me for sons and vii. for daughters, saith the Lord Almighty*.” Having therefore,
beloved, such promises, let us purify ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
REFLECTIONS. Thus may cordial love open the mouth of Christian ministers, when addressing their people; and thus may the love of Christians to each other, in every station of life, express itself, and produce for a recomnence a mutual enlargement. This is one of the sweetest pleasures and richest blessings of friendship, when wisely and happily contracted. Let us therefore cultivate such friendships, and be very careful that we do not form others, which may properly be called being unequal. ly yoked. We profess to be pursuing righteousness, to be light in the Lord, to be united to Christ, to be consecrated to God: let us not then have an intimate converse with the slaves of unrighteousness, the children of darkness, the sons of Belial, the votaries of idols. Far from subjecting ourselves to such dangerous snares, let us rather be earnestly seeking every advantage for making the noblest improvements in religion. Let us examine our lives and our hearts, that we may be cleansed from all pollutions of the spirit, as well as of the flesh. Let us labour after sublime ideas of the perfection of holiness, and after a temper of mind correspondent to those ideas. In order to attain which, let us often be surveying our high and glorious privileges, and those exceeding rich and precious promises, which God by his gospel is making to us; separating ourselves from all evil, that he may receive us, that he may dwell with us, and walk among us, that he may consecrate us as a holy temple to himself; yea, that the Lord Almighty may become a Father to us, and own us for his sons and his daughters. To us is the word of this promise sent, this is the hope of our calling : let us make it sure, let us daily survey it, that it may produce and cherish a correspondent sanctity and zeal. Amen.
Paul expresses to the Corinthians the pleasure with which he received good
tidings from them by Titus, and his joy thut their sorrows occasioned by his reproofs had issued in their reformation. Ch. vii. 2, &c.
INTHATEVER prejudices some have excited against us, we en2 VV treat you brethren, Receive us; for we have injured no 3 man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. I
speak not this to condemn you ; for I have told you before, that
ye are so much in our hearts that we could be glad to live and to die 4 with you. Great is my freedom of speech to you, and great my
*Some suppose this a reference to 2 Sam. vii. 8, 14, Jer. xxxi, 1.
boasting concerning you. I am filled with consolation, I exceed5 ingly abound * in joy in all our affliction. For when we came
into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in
every place; without were fightings, within were fears on your ac6 count. But God, who is the comforter of those who are brought 7 low, comforted us by the coming of Titus (from Corinth.) And
not merely by his coming, but with the consolation with which he was comforted by you, when he told us of your earnest desire to
see me, your grief for your misconduct, and your zeal for me ; so 8 that I rejoiced much more. For though r I grieved you in the
epistle 1 formerly wrote, I do not repent, however anxious I might before have been. For I find, that this epistle, however,
for a little while it might have grieved yout, produced much good. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were grieved, but that ye grieved to re
pentance; for ye were grieved with a regard to the honour of
God; so that ye were not in any degree endamaged by us, but 10 greatly benefited. For that grief which regardeth God, worketh
repentance to salvation, never to be repented of; whereas the sor11 row of the world worketh death. For behold, this same thing,
your being grieved for your sins out of respect to God, what diligence it wrought in you; yea, what apology; yea, what indignation ; yea, what fear; yea, what earnest desire; yea, what zeal ; yea, what revenge against yourselves! So that, upon the whole,
you have now approved yourselves to be pure in this matter. 12 Therefore, if I have written any thing to you (with severity;] it
was not (merely on his account who had done, or his who had re
ceived the injury; but for the sake of manifesting unto you our 13 diligence for you before Godo. Therefore we were comforted in
your consolation; and we rejoiced more exceedingly in the joy of 14 Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. So that if I
had boasted any thing of you to him, I was not ashamed; but as
we have always spoken in the truth to you, so also our boasting con. 15 cerning you to Titus hath been verified to our satisfaction: so that
his tenderest affections are engaged towards you exceedingly, whenever he recollecteth the obedience of you all to my injunc.
tions ; and how you received him with fear and trembling, as my 16 messenger, and as the minister of Christ. I rejoice therefore that
in every respect I have confidence in you, [with respect to your future conduct. 1]
REFLECTIONS. How great is the boldness of a good conscience ! and how much does it promote that freedom, that authority, with which the minis. ters of Christ address themselves to their hearers, when they can
* This word is of the apostle's own making, and has an inexpressible energy.
* « Altho' but for an hour, I made you sorry PROPERLY.” M.
† There is a wonderful address in this part of the epistle, which finely introduces what the apostle had to say in what follows, respecting the proposed collection.
thus appeal to them as to the uprightness, integrity, and disinterestedness of their conduct! Frequently do we, in some degree, share the trials of the apostle ; and while we may be surrounded with fightings without, are exercised with fears within ; but we have a God who assumeth it to himself as one of his titles, that he comforteth those that are cast down, and brought low. May every sincere lover of Christ and of souls, be filled with consolation from him, and amidst all his tribulations, whatever they are, be made to rejoice exceedingly in the joy of his Christian friends and converts ! May he trace in them the marks of that true repentance which is never to be repented of, and which is represented in such genuine language, as no heart could have dictated, but one that had felt what is here described. And since there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not ; and consequently none who needeth not repentance, may we all know by experience, that diligence, that indignation, that fear, that zeal, that desire, that revenge, which the apostle saw in his corinthian brethren, and which he rejoiced so much to see! There is not a surer office of friendship, than to endeavour to promote this godly sorrow. And O, how blessed, how divine a principle is religion, whose most painful operation is productive of so much inward and substantial happiness! whereas the sorrow of this world, to which they who fondly love the world, and eagerly pursue it, are most exposed, is attended with such fatal consequences, as even to work death-Let us observe with pleasure the address of St. Paul, to make the Corinthians what they ought to be, by representing to them that pleasing confidence he reposed in them, the manner in which he had even boasted of them, and the satisfaction he found in all their first tendencies towards a reformation of remaining defects. And let us earnestly pray for the Spirit of wisdom, that our hearts may be happily attempered to such due mixtures of faithful inspection, resolute sincerity, and endearing tenderness, with respect to all who are committed to our care, whether in offices of a public or private nature, as may most effectually promote their advancement in the divine life, and our own abundant joy.
The apostle recommends the contribution for the poor Christians of Judea, by the example of the Macedonians, and by grace of our Redeemer ; giving some advice as to the manner of collecting and transmitting their bounty. Ch. viii. 1-15.
I N OW, brethren, we inform you of the grace of God bestow
TV ed upon the churches in Macedonia ; how in a great trial of affliction, their overflowing joy [in the gospel] and the depth of their poverty, hath abounded to the riches of their liberality.
Poor as they are, they have done wonders for the relief of their yet 3 hoorer brethren. So that I testify, that to their power, yea and 4 beyond their power, they have been willing of themselves ; en
treating us with much importunity, that we would receive the gift