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The Apostle says, it was not expedient to glory:

521 dinary Powers, by a Succession from him, and his Brethren! What Sect. 18. tyranical Insults! What exorbitant Oppresions! What base Methods to enslave the Conscience, the Properties, and the Persons of Men, Ver. 20. whom they should have respected, and loved as their Brethren, whom they should have cherished even as their Children! So that one would imagine, they had taken the Picture, which St. Paul here draws of the false Apostles, as a Model of their own Conduct ; while they have perhaps denied the Title of Ministers of Chris to those, who have much Ver. 23. more resembled the Dispositions and Circumstances of this his most faithful Ambassador. Oh that this might only be the Infamy of the Popish Clergy, with whose cruel and usurping Practices such Censures may seem best to suit ! Or rather, would to God it were no longer even theirs. May the GOD and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for er. 35 evermore, pour out a better Spirit upon all, who profess themselves the Servants of his Son! That they, whose Business it is to call others to Cbrift, may themselves first come, and learn of him, who is meek and lowly of Heart ; whose roke is so easy, and his Burthen fo light, that it is astonishing, that any who have themselves felt it, should ever think of binding on others, Burthens heavy, and bard. to be borne.

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The Apostle goes on, with great Plainness and Freedom, yet

at the Jame Time with great Modesty, to give an Account of some extraordinary Revelations which he had received from GOD, and of those Experiences, which taught him to glory even in bis Infirmities. 2 Cor. XII. 1,---10.

2 CORINTHIANS XII. 1. IT T is not expedient for me doubtless to glory :

I will

I

2 CORINTHIANS XII. I.. HAVE spoken with some Freedom in the Sect. 19. preceding Discourse, of

my

Labours and Sufferings in the Christian Cause; but whatever they 2 Cor. XII. have been, I well know, that it is not expedient for me to boast ; nor would I by any Means indulge myself in such a Practice; nevertheless (a),

with

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(a) Nevertheless.] The Apostle's speaking of his Visions and Revelations, which indeed did him the highest Honour, could not be a Proof, that he was determined not to boast. VOL. IV. U u u

It

Sect. 19.

I.

522

Yet that he knew a Man in Chrift, with the Precautions I have already advanced, I will come to Visions and

and with these good Purposes continually in View, Revelations of the Lord. 2 Cor. XII. that have led me so far out of my common

Manner of speaking, I will now come to say fome-
thing of those Vifions and Revelations of the Lord,
with which his unworthy Servant has by his

astonishing Grace and Condescension been fa-
2 voured.

I hardly indeed know how to men 2 I knew a Man in Chrift tion a Name fo undeserving as my own, in this above fourteen Years ago Connection; but I will venture in the general to (whether in the Body, I say, that I well knew a certain Man in Christ (6); of the Body, I cannot tell : one, who esteems it his highest Honour to be- God knowetb) such 'an long to such a Master; who, tho' he hath hitherto thought proper to conceal it, was remarkably indulged in this Respect, above fourteen

Whether he was then in the -Body, during that extraordinary Extacy, I know not; or for a Time taken out of the Body, so that only the Principle of animal Life remained in it, I know not ©). GOD only knows how that was; nor is it of any Importance too curioufly to search into such a Circumstance. He had at least no Consciousness of any Thing that passed about him at that Time, and all his Sensations were as en

tirely

one

Years ago.

It is evident therefore, that yap cannot have its usual Signification, and be rendered Our Translators take it for a mere Expletive, and therefore omit it. 'I have ventured to render it

, nevertheless, as it is certain it has often various Significations, and must have this Signification here, if it exprefs any Thing. The Force of but in this Connection would be the fame with nevertheless.

(6) A certain Man in Chrif.] He must undoubtedly mean himself, or the whole Article had been quite foreign to his Purpose. It appears from hence, that the Apostle had concealed this extraordinary Event fourteen Years; and if this Epifle was written about the Year 58. as we fuppofe it was, this Vision must have fallen out in the Year 44. wbich was: fo long after his Conversion, as to prove it quite different from the Trance, mentioned Acts : ix. 9. with which fome have confounded it. Dr. Benfon thinks this glorious Representation was made to him, while he was praying in the Temple, in that Journey, Aats xi. 30.Chap. xxii. 17. and intended to encourage him against the Difficulties he was to encountery, in preaching the Gofpel to the Gentiles. Benf. Prop. Voli ii. pag. 7. See Vol. iii. Sect. 500 Note (a).

(c) Whether in the Body, &c.]. As St. Paul muft know his Body was not actually dead, during this Trance, but that the animal Motion of his Heart and Lungs continued, it would Jead one to imagine, that he really apprehended the Principle of animal Life, to be some thing difinct from the rational Soul , which he calls himself. "It appears at least

, that he loft all Consciousness of any Thing about him at that Time; and what the Presence of an immaterial Soul in a Body can be, distinct from the Capacity of perceiving by it, and acting upon.it, I am yet to learn.

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2.

above fourteen Years before caught up into the third Heaven. 523 one caught up to the third tirely ceased, as if his Union with the Body had Sect. 19. Heaven.

been broken. Such an one, I say, I did most
intimately know, who was snatched up even into 2 Cor. XII.
the third Heaven, the Seat of the divine Glory,
and the place where Christ dwelleth at the Fa-
ther's Right Hand, having all the celestial Princi-

palities and Powers in humble Subjection to him,
3 And I knew such a Man Yea, I say, I even knew such a Man, whether in 3
(whether in the Body, or the Body, or out of the Body, I now say not, be-
out of the Body, I cannot
tell : God knoweth)

cause I know not : GOD knoweth; and let him
have the Glory of supporting his Life in so ex-

traordinary a Circumstance, whichever might
4 How that he was caught be the Case. And I know, that having been 4
up into Paradise, and heard thus entertained with these Visions of the third
unspeakable Words, which
it is not lawful for a Man Heavens, on which good Men are to enter after

the Resurrection, lest he should be impatient un-
der the Delay of his part of the Glory there, he
was also caught up into Paradise (d), that Garden
of God, which is the Seat of happy Spirits in
the intermediate State, and during their Separa-
tion from the Body: where he had the Pleasure
of an Interview with many of the pious Dead,
and beard among them unutterable Words, ex-
pressive of their sublime Ideas, which he was
there taught to understand. But the Language
was such as it is not lawful, or poffible (e), for
Man to utter ; we have no Terms of Speech fit
to express such Conceptions, nor would it be con-
fiftent with the Schemes of Providence, which
require that we should be conducted by Faith,
rather than by Sight, to suffer such Circumstances

to atter.

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(d) Also caught up into Paradise.] I have followed Bishop Bull's Interpretation of these Words, in the Distinction he makes between the third Heavens, and Paradise. See his Works, Vol. i. Serm. 3. pag. 89. To which Dr. Whitby agrees, who also supposes this not merely a Viszon, as I think it was, but a Reality; which if St. Paul had thought it, he muft surely have concluded, that he was not then in the Body.

(e) Lawful or posible.] I think, with Witfius, that stor may comprehend both.-Different Divines have conjectured very differently concerning these Things ; of which I suppose they know nothing. But Mr. Fleming's Conjecture, that he was instructed in the Doctrine of the first Refaurrection; and Mr. Whifton's, that he was instructed in the grand Secrets contained in the Apoftolical Constitution, revealed to the Eleven in the Chamber on Sion, and not to be publickly disclosed till many Ages after ; may serve as Specimens of the rest. Whif. Prim. Christianity, Vol. iii. pag. 32.

U uu 2

(f) A Thorn

5

524

But lejt he fould be exalted above Meafure, , Sect.

as thefe to be revealed to the inhabitants of mor

19. Letal Flesh.

5 Of such an one will: In such an one therefore, whoever 2 Cor. XII. he be, I will venture to boast, fo far as to say, not glory, but in mine Ina

glory: Yet of myself I will that he received a peculiar Honour from our great firmities. Lord, and for the Time was made, as it were, another Man by it. But in myself I will not boast, unless it be in my Infirmities, in those Things which

carry the Marks of Weakness, which yet in a certain Connection will appear honourable 6 too. For if I should refolve 'to boast a little, defire to glory, I thall not

6 For though I would on the Occasion I have mentioned, I shall not be a Fool; for I will fay upon the whole be foolish, tho' it be generally the Truth : -But now I forso; considering the particular Circumstances in bear, left any Man should

think of me abovethat which which I'am: For I speak nothing but the strictest he seeth me to bez, or that he Truth, how strange foever it may seem. But I heareth of me. forbear to insist largely upon it, best any one fhould esteen me, above what he sees to be in me, or, having a fair Opportunity of learning my true Character, kears of me; for instead of arrogating to myself any undeserved Regards, I would rather decline them, and should be secretly grieved and

alhamed, if they were paid to me. 7 I have indeed had my peculiar Priviledges';. 7 And left I thould be

but alas, I have my Infirmities, and my Tempta- exalted above Meafure throa tions too. And left I should be too much elevated, the Abundance of the Re

velations, there was given: with the Abundance of these extraordinary Reve- to me a Thorn in the Fleshy. lations of which I have been speaking, there was

the given me, that is, it pleased God to appoint to me an Affliction, which was fo painful, that it was. like a pointed Thorn in the Flesh (f), conti

nually

(f) A Thorn in the Flesh.] How much this Thorn in St. Paul's Flesh has perplexed and disquieted. Commentators, they who have conversed' much with them; know. but too well. Many have understood -it of bodily Pains ; and Mr. Baxter, being himself subject to a Nophritick Disorder, fuppofes it might be the Stone, or Gravel. The Conjectures of some of the Ancients are much grofser. I. rather acquiesce in: that Interpretation of Dr. Whitby, (which the Author of Miscel . Sacra has adopted, and taken Pains to illustrate, Esay iii

. pag. 22; -24.) That the View he had. of celestial Glorięs, affected the System of his Nerves in such a Manner, as to occasion some paralytick Symptoms, and particularly a Stammering in his Speech, and perhaps some ridiculous Distortion in his Countenance, referred to elsewhere in the Phrase of the Infirmity in his Flesh. See Gal. iv. 13, 14. i Gor. ii. 3. Compare Dan. vii. 27. As this might threaten both his Acceptance and Useful ness, it is.no. Wonder he was so importuáte for its being removed; yet being the Attendant and Effe 2 of fo great a Favour, he might with peculiar Propriety speak of glorying. in it.

6) Pitchi

exalted above Measure.

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there was given to him a Thorn in the Flesh.

52:5 the Messenger of Satan to nually piercing and wounding me: And this in Sect. 19. . buffet me; left I should be fuch 'Circumstances, that one would think it had 4 been intended on Purpose, that the Messenger and 2 Cor

. XII. Apostle of Satan, the false Teachers whom I have been describing (Chap. xi. 133-15.) under that Character, might from thence take Occasion to buffet and upbraid me : That I, being subject to such Disorders, tho' naturally resulting from the Manner in which my Nerves were imprefled by this Extacy, might not be exeefively exalted; but might bear away, like Jacob, when he had been so successfully wrestling with the Angel, an Infirmity in my animal Frame, from which ungenerous and cruel Enemies might profanely take an

Occasion to insult me. (Gen. xxxii. 25.)
8 For this Thing I be This was indeed at first so very grievous and 8
fought the Lord thrice, that
it might depart from me.

mortifying to me, and seemed to have so un-
happy an Aspect upon my Acceptance and Use-
fulneis, as a Preacher of the Gospel, that I was
very importunate in my Petitions, that it might
be removed, and befought the Lord Jesus Christ
thrice on the Occasion, intreating him that, if it
were his blessed Will, it might totally depart from

me, or at least be moderated in some considerable
g And he said unto me, Degree.
My Grace is sufficient for tho he did not entirely and fully indulge my Re-
And my Prayer was not in vain; for,

9
thee: for my Strength is
made perfe& in Weakness. queft, be said to me in great Condescenfion, My
Most gladly therefore will I Grace is sufficient for thee, to support thee under
rather glory in my Infir- these Trials, tho'l permit them to continue, which
mities, that the Power of
Christ may rest upon me.

I now choose; for my Strength is made perfect,
and illustrated so much the more, in the Weak-
ness of the Instrument, by which I work: And
this general Maxim will take Place with Respect
to thee. With the greatest Pleasure therefore will
I boast in my Weaknesses, various as they are,
that the Strength of Christ may, as it were, pitch

its Tent upon me (8), and surround me on every ro Therefore I take Plea

Side. And therefore I feel a secret Complacency, lo sure in Infirmities, in Re

proaches,

rather than Anxiety and Terror, in these Infir-
mities, in all the Injuries I sustain, in all the

Necef

(8) Pitch its Tent, &c.] That seems the strong Emphasis of the original Word, stor

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