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believing, where there is any reason to hope it, that their joy is the joy of their people also. When professing Christians offend, and cannot be reclaimed by gentler methods, let them, not out of resentment, but affection, have recourse to the discipline which Christ hath instituted in his church : and when that discipline hath answered its end, and the offender is recovered to a sense of his evil, let them with the greatest pleasure concur in re-admitting him to the communion of the church from which he has been excluded ; with a tender concern, lest he should be swallowed up of over-much sorrow; always considering, how watchful the enemy of souls is to get an advantage over us ; and remembering, that it will be the peculiar wisdom of ministers, to acquaint themselves with these artful and malicious devices of Satan, by which he is incessantly endeavouring to distress and ruin the church, and to lay snares for its members in their hopes and their fears, their joys, and their sorrows, so as to take occasion from every incident, and from every interest, to weaken and to wound them. · The great source of a right conduct on all these occasions, is unfeigned love : that let us labour to establish in our hearts towards each other ; praying that God, by his Spirit, would establish it. And though the consequence of this will be, that our spirits, like the apostle's, will be accessible to many sorrows which we should not otherwise feel; and though it is possible, that we, like St. Paul in the instance before us, may sometimes be interrupted in active services of life, which we might otherwise have been more ready to pursue ; yet we may hope, that while we are faithfully influenced by love, under the direction of that Christian prudence, which ought ever to attend it, views of usefulness, o where we least expect them, may be opened one way while they are obstructed another; yea, upon the whole, what has for a while interrupted our success, may in its remoter consequences greatly advance it.
The apostle expresses his thankfulness to God for having intrus'ed him witlo the ministry of the gospel, and for his success in it ; declares his jouful confidence in the divine acceptance, and speaks of the Corinthians as his credentials. Ch. ï. 14, &c. iii. 1-6. 14 N OW* thanks be to the God, who always causeth us to tri
V umph in Christ, and manifesteth by us in every place the 15 fragrant odour of his knowledge. For we are to God a sweet
odour of Christ, with respect both to them who are saved, and to 16 them who perish. To the latter incleed we are an odour of death
to death: but to the other we are an odour of life to lifet. And 17 who is sufficient for these things ? Fort we are not as many, who * “ But." D. “Now.” E. T. and so M.
† An allusion to the odours and incense which were burnt near the conquerors in triumphant processions. There seems also reference to the different effects of strong perfumes, which to some are offensive, and even fatal. M. renders this passage, “the smell of death ending in death, and the smell of life ending in life."
adulterate the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God,
in the presence of God, we speak in the name of Christ. iii. When I say this, do we again begin to recommend ourselves to
you? Or do we need, as some do, recommendatory letters to you, 2 or recommendatory lellers from you? Ye are our epistle, written 3 upon our * hearts, known and read by all men. Ye are manifest
as the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink,
but by the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in 4. the fleshy tables of the heart. Such confidence have we towards 5 God by Jesus Christ. Nor that we are sufficient of ourselves, to
reckon upon any thing as from ourselves ; for our sufficiency is 6 from God: Who also hath made us able ministers of the new
covenant ; not of the letter, but of the spirit ; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
REFLECTIONS. May the infinite importance of the gospel message be deeply impressed on all who preach, and all who hear it. Life or death is in question : eternal life or everlasting death: and while it is from day to day reviving its thqusands, is it not to be feared, that in some places it is, by the righteous judgment of God on hard and impenitent hearts, aggravating the guilt and misery of its ten thousands ? How awful is the work of dispensing this gospel! Who can pretend to be sufficient for such things as these? Who that considers the nature and importance of the ministerial work, can undertake or pursue it, but with fear and trembling ? - Yet, insufficient as they ought humbly to acknowledge themselves to be, to reckon upon any thing as from themselves, there is a sufficiency in God, imparted to faithful ministers; in consequence of which they are often made to triumph in Christ, and borne on, in a holy superiority to all the difficulties of their work, and see their labour not to be in vain in the Lord. Well may that support them, under the discouragements which, in other instances, they feel, when the fruit of their labours does not immediately appear; yea, when the present state of many under their care is directly contrary to what they could desire ; for their work is still with the Lord, and they are a sweet savour to God in them that perish, as well as in them that are sdued. Let them therefore gird up the loins of their mind, and exert themselves with the utmost vigour, rejoicing in this, that God will on the whole be glorified, and they shall on the whole be accepted, and through his abundant grace be amply rewarded. Yca, God will consider, in that day of final recompence, the anguish which they have felt for the souls they have seen perishing under their ministrations, as well as the faithful pains they have bestowed to reclaim them.
* The author has it your hearts, and in a Note says, “Some copies read OUR," but vindicates the other reading. This must be an inadvertence; for not only in the E.T. but in almost all copies of the N. T. it is OUR. Mill mentions one MS. only which has your hearts; and the Ethiopic version. But all the ancient MSS. support the common rendering, which gives a good sense, agreeable to the context. See M.
But as they desire to secure this acceptance, yea, to secure their own salvation, let them never allow themselves, by any foreign mixtures, to adulterate the word of God; but let them speak it in its uncorrupted sincerity, as in the sight and presence of God, and as those who know it is not their business to devise a message out of their own hearts, but to deliver what they have received of the Lord. So may they hope there shall not be wanting those, who, according to the views which the apostle gives us of these Corinthians, shall appear as epistles written by the hand of Christ himself, in attestation of their commission from him.
That ministers may more cheerfully hope for, and expect such an honour, let us all pray, that the Spirit of God may lead them into the true sense and meaning of scripture ; that they may not unprofitably amuse themselves and their hearers with vain and cold criticisms on the letter of it, so as to neglect and forget what is most spiritual in its design and meaning; but that they may, under divine illumination, attain to the mind of the Spirit, and be enabled to make great proficiency in unfolding and illustrating the important mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and may be to multitudes a savour of life unto life*
An useful digression concerning the comparative obscurity of the Mosaic law,
and the superior glory and permanence of the gospel. Ch. ïü. 7, &c.
7 LOR if the Mosaic law, which was the ministration of death,
T contained in letters, engraven in stone, was attended with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look directly upon
the face of Moses, because of the glory of his countenance, which 8 was soon to be abolished by his death ; how much more shall the 9 ministration of the spirit be glorious ? And † if that which was in
its effects the ministration of condemnation was attended with a
glory; how much more shall the gospel, the ministration of right10 eousnesss I exceed in glory? For even that which was made glo
rious, hath no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that 11 excelleth it. For ll if that which was to be abolished was attended
with glory, how much more glorious must that be, which remain12 eth? This is the ministry in which we are engaged. Having therc13 fore this hope and confidence, we use great liberty of address; and
are not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, which seemed to intimate that the children of Israel could not $ directly look to the
* The author should have addeel an admonition to HEARERS of the gospel also, to attend more to the spirit than to the letter, to the meaning than to the sound of scripture; and to exercise a serious concern that they be not only amused but profited by the word preached; that they may so hear as that their souls may live. ED.
“For.” D. and E.T. “And.” M.
Il “ Besides.” M. $"—that they might not”-i.e. might not see the vanishing of the glory from his face. M.
14 end of that law which was to be abolished. But their understand
ings are blinded, for until this day the same veil continues unre
moved during the reading of the Old Testament; which weil is 15 taken away in * Christ. But the veil is upon their hearts when 16 Moses is read, even to this day. But when it (the people of Is
rael) shall turn unto the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord Jesus is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the 18 Lord is, there is liberty : a more liberal and filial disposition. And
we all with unveiled face, beholding as by a glass or mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image front glory to glory, as from the Lord the Spirit.
REFLECTIONS. Still doth this glorious glass of the gospel stand full in our view, from which the lustre of the Redeemer's countenance is reflected. Let us daily behold his image there, and contemplate it with an attentive eye, as those who are solicitous that we may wear some of those rays; yea, that we may wear them with still increasing lustre ; that we may be transformed from glory to glory, and reflecting those rays, shine as lights in the world. Let us endeavour to raise our minds to this laudable temper, by frequently reflecting on the excellence of the Christian dispensation, as a dispensation of the Spirit and of life ; whereas the law was the ministration of death ; and while, from the glory attending the law, we infer, with the apostle, the super-eminent glory of the gospel, let us learn also the superior obligation it brings us under, to regard and obey it, and the proportionably greater danger of despising it. The law of Moses was soon to be abolished; the gospel still remains, and shall remain to the end of time. Let us pray for its prosperity, and do our utmost to promote it. And let us carnestly plead with God that, whereas there is now a veil upon the face of the Jews even unto this day, when the sacred records are read among them, they may turn unto the Lord, and find the veil taken away ; that so by the conversion of Israel as a nation, there may be a glorious accession of evidence to Christianity ; and that the Jews themselves may be happy in the blessings of him whom their fathers crucified, and whom they continue contemptuously to reject. Let the ministers of the gospel, while defending so divine a cause, and enfarcing so important a message, use all becoming filainness of specch; and may all Christians know more of that liberty which the Spirit of the Lord gives, that God may in all things be glorified, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The apostle declares his courage, and disclaims all sinister views, and all dis
trust of success, in pursuing his ministry, persuaded that the gospel could not be rejected, but through the most fatal prejudices. Ch. iv. 146.
I THEREFORE having been intrusted with such a ministra2 1 tion, as we have obtained mercy of God, we faint not : but
we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor deceitfully corrupting the word of God; but by the manifestation of the truth, recommending ourselves to every man's 3 conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be under a 4 veil too, it is veiled to those that are perishing*: among whom
are they whose unbelieving minds Satan the god of this world hath
blinded, lest the lustre of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is .5 the image of God, should beam forth upon them. For we preach
not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your ser6 vants for the sake of Jesus. For God, who commanded the light
to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to impart the lustre of the knowledge of God's glory, in the face of Jesus Christ.
REFLECTIONS. · Let all who are honoured with the ministry of the gospel, learn from the apostle, courage and fidelity ; remembering they are continually in the sight and presence of God. Let them therefore renounce with abhorrence, that craft which so many who have called themselves Christian priests, have studied; and labour to govern their whole conduct by such apparent principles of integrity and honour, that they may commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. . This end will be much promoted, if they learn to lay aside all sinister views of interest and ambition, of human applause, or a dominion over men's consciences; and putting on that humble character so amiably illustrated in the apostle Paul's writings, every where, with all loyal affection, preach Christ, as the great Lord and Head of the church; and declare and approve themselves the willing servants of souls for his sake. So humbling themselves, they will be exalted in the eyes of God and man; and will reap those heart-felt pleasures now, and those honours, emoluments, and delights hereafter, which will infinitely more than indemnify them for all they may resign; and exceed not only the low apprehensions of the servants of mum.' mon, in Christ's livery, but their own most elevated conceptions..
Let every reader seriously examine himself as to the knowledge he has of this gospel, and the degree in which he has felt a sense of its glory and excellence upon his heart; solemnly considering, that
* The common translation of this verse must strike every reader as illaccurate and perplexed. The best I have seen is this: “Now if our gospel also be hid, it is hid by those destructive sins, by which the god," &c. W. He makes these two verses a parenthesis. Ed.