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OF SIMPLICITY AND GODLY SINCERITY.
2 Cor. i. 12.
Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that
in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in
the world. AFTER the apostle's usual preface of affectionate benediction in the beginning of this Epistle, and his devout acknowledgment of the divine goodness to him in the consolation he received in all his troubles and afflictions; and which he assures the Corinthians, all that suffer for the sake of Christ shall in due time receive from the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; he proceeds to acquaint them with his unexpected deliverance from the great danger he was lately in at Ephesus, caused by the uproar made by Demetrius and his comrades, upon his teaching, that they be no gods which are made with hands; so that their trade of making silver shrines for Diana, the great goddess of that city, and of all Asia, was like to come to nothing a
He tells them, that he then looked upon himself as one under sentence of death, just going to execution; and so utterly destitute of all human help, that no less power than that which can raise the dead could rescue and deliver him.
But even in those sad circumstances, when he was pressed out of measure, as he expresses it, and above his strength, so that he despaired of life, he wanted not such comforts as were needful to support his sinking spirits; and as the sufferings of Christ abounded in him, so his consolation also abounded by Christb. And in my text he mentions one thing particularly that ministered great refreshments to him amidst that throng of sorrows which pressed so hard upon him, even the testimony of his conscience, that with respect to God, to them, and to all men, he had always faithfully discharged his duty; or, as he afterwards professed before Felix, had exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and men'; this, says he, ever was, is, and ever will be, in every condition, our rejoicing, (for in that latitude we ought to understand him,) even the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world. In discoursing upon which words I shall do two things:
I. First, shew what the apostle means by having one's conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity. And,
II. Secondly, recommend such a conversation as worthy every man's most careful endeavours, being indeed our greatest wisdom and our only perfection.
I. And first, by having one's conversation in the world, the apostle, no doubt, means every man's intercourse with others, in that rank and station in which God's providence has placed him; and per2 Cor. i. 5.
c Acts xxiv. 16.