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526

10.

Reflections on the Revelations, and Afiftances, Sect. ig

Necessities I endure, in all the Persecutions with proaches, in Neceflities, in

which I am assaulted, and in all the Straits which Persecutiops, in Diftreflep 2 Cor. XII. for Christ's Sake press me on every Part; for when I am weak, then am I

for Christ's Sake: For whep I am weak, then am I strong : Never do I feel , strong. larger inward Communications of Strength from him, than when I am most conscious of

my Weakness. Nor do I esteem any Thing a greater Honour to me, than that Chrift should take Occasion to glorify himself by those Things whereby I am humbled and abased.

own

I M P R O V E M E N T.

Ver. 10.

W

Ver. I.

Ver. 7.

Ver. 3.

Ver. 4.

ELL might the Apostle say, that when he was weak, then was be

strong ; for it is difficult to tell, when he expresses a greater Strength of Genius, or of Grace, than while thus discoursing of his own Infirmities. How glorious were those Scars in his Body, which were the Marks of his Sufferings for Christ; and those Tremblings and Distortions of his Nerves, which were the Results of these bright Vifons of the Lord which brought down Heaven to Earth, and had for the Time equalled a mortal Man with the Spirits of just Men made perfect ; yea, almost with the Angels of GOD!

Transported with the sacred Impulse, he could scarcely tell, whether he were in the Body, or out of it; but he testified, that the Things which he saw and heard, were unutterable. Let us not repine, that he recollected, and recorded, nothing more particular concerning what paffed before the Eye of his Mind, when that of the Body was closed. These celestial Raptures were intended to confirm his Faith, and consequently likewise to confirm ours; but not to amuse our Curiosity. If the Earth be full of the Goodness of the Lord, how much more the third Heavens, where he holds his highest Court! Nor shall the intermediate State of Souls want its proper Enjoyments and

Blessings. Affuredly therefore believing these Things, let us waitGod's Time for a more particular Knowledge of them; and when called of him to go forth, and receive this Inheritance, like genuine Children of Abraham, abey, tbo' we kraw not particularly wbither we go. (Heb. xi. 8.)

We see the Danger of Spiritual Pride, from which even St. Paul himself was not secure. One would have imagined, that such a View of the celestial World should in itself have been sufficient to have humbled him, during all the Remainder of the longest Life: And yet it is evident, that God saw there was some Danger, lest Pride should be cherished by

that,

Ver. 2.

Ver. 7.

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with which St. Paul was peculiarly favoured. that, which feemed fo proper to destroy it: Therefore was there given Sect. 19. him a Thorn in the Flesh. And by how many Thorns are the most distinguished Christians often pierced?' Let them bless God, if thereby they are humbled too, even tho' the Messengers and Instruments of Satan should from thence take Occasion to buffet them.

In all our Exigencies, Extremities and Complaints, let us apply to the Ver. 8. Throne of Grace, and that blessed Redeemer, who interceeds before it, for proper Assistance and Relief. Nor let us be discouraged, tho' the first, or second Address, should seem to be disregarded : The third or fourth, may

be successful. And what, if we do not succeed to our Wish in the immediate Answer? Let it content us, that we may be assured by Christ of the Sufficiency of his Grace. In our Weaknefs can he illustrate bis Ver. 2. Strength. And in that View too, may we glory in our Infirmities. For surely the Honour of our divine Master, in our deepest Humiliation, ought to give us much more Joy, than to see ourselves ever so much admired and extolled. “ But, Oh blessed Jesus, how much of thy Strength “ must be manifested in us, to teach our vain and selfish Hearts a Lesson, “ which at the very first Proposal appears so reasonable, if considered in “ Speculation alone ? Lord increase our Faith! Increase our Humility! “ So fhalt thou have the Glory in all thou givest, and in all thou deniest

us, and in all the Struggles and Trials to which thou mayest appoint us; and in which, for thy Sake, we will take Pleasure."

Ver. Ihr

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The Apostle vindicates the Frankness, Sincerity and Tender

ness of his Conduct, and his visible Superiority to all se-
cular Considerations, in all bis Dealings with the Church
at Corinth.

2 Cor. XII. 11, to the End.

IT

2 CORINTHIANS XII. II.

2 CORINTHIANS XII. II.
I AM become a Fool in T
glorying, ye have com-

may
be indeed, my Brethren, that I am Sect. 20.

1 pelled me : For I ought to

become foolis. in boasting, as I have done above!
have But if it be so, you will consider where the Blame 2 Cor. XII,

lies. For you, by the Manner in which some
of

you, to whom I am now speaking, have be-
haved yourselves, may be said to have compelled
me to do it, even against my Will, In which you

II.

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II.

He was not behind the Chief of the Apostleg. Sect. 20. are peculiarly inexcusable; : for I ought indeed to have been commended of have been recommended by you, rather than to have you: For in nothing am I

behind the very chiefert A2 Cor. XII. found any Necessity of pleading with you, in postles, though'l be nothing

the Manner I have done, for I have in no Ref-
peet whatsoever, failed to equal the most excellent of
the Apostles, thoI am myself nothing in the Aco
count of Some; nor indeed am I any. Thing in
Reality without the Aids of divine Grace and

Af-
sistance, nor would I assume to myself any Glory
12 from what that hath made me. Yet truly GOD 12 Truly the Signs of

has been pleased to communicate of his Bounties an Apostle were wrought
to me in such a Degree, that the Signs of an in Signs, and Wonders; and
Apostle were produced among you in a Variety of mighty Deeds.
most convincing Miracles ; Miracles, by which I
was not puffed up, but which were wrought in
all Patience, in the Midst of this unreasonable
Opposition I met with, notwithstanding these
Signs and Wonders and Powers, which awakened
the Amazement of all that beheld. · Nor did I
exert these miraculous Powers in chastising the
irregular, but chose rather, if it were possible, to

conquer by Love, and by Benefits.
13
And
you
know, that I conferred

many

Bene 13 For what is it wherein fits : For in what one Respect were ye inferior to ye were inferior to other

it be that the rest of the Churches planted by the other I myself was not burdensome Apostles, unless [it were in this,] that I myself to you? Forgive me this was not burthenfome to you, by taking any Acknowledgment for

my

Labours ? No, not so
much as a Subîstence among you at your Ex-
pence. Forgive me, I beseech

you,
this
great

In-
jury; for I think; I hardly need to ask

you

Forgiveness on any other Account. Bebold now, this is the third Time I am ready Time. I am ready to come

14 Behold, the third 14

to come to you, having been disappointed twice to you; and I will not be before. (1 Cor. xvi. 5. 2 Cor. i. 15, 16.) Ne- burdensome to you ; for "I vertheless I will not now be, in the Sense I have seek not yours,' but you:

For mentioned, burthenfome to you, for God knows, I seek not your polesnons, but yourselves. If I can but be instrumental in promoting your Salvation, and at the same Time secure

your

filial Love and Affection, I shall think myself happy, ' tho' I reap not the least personal Advantage from your Property, where it is most abundant. For it

is

Wrong

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For I will 15

loved.

He would gladly Spend, and be spent for them:

529 For the Children ought not is not fit, that the Children should lay up Treasure Sect. 20. .

lay but the Parents for the for the Parents, but the Parents for the Children. Children.

I therefore, being your spiritual Father, will 2 Cor. XII.

communicate to you such Treasures as I have,
15 And I will very gladly and will not desire to share yours.
spend and be spent for you, with the greatest Pleasure Spend, and be spent for
I love you, the less I be. your Souls ; I will gladly exhaust my Strength,

and put myself to any Expence too, in order to
promote this ; tho' the Consequence of all should
be, that the more abundantly I love you, the less I
am loved by you. How unkind soever your Re-
turns may be, if you should treat me, like those
perverse Creatures who take a Pleasure in tor-
menting them that love them best, yetshall you
still find me a fincere Friend to your best Interests.

(Compare 2 Tim. ii. 10. i Thef. ii. 8.)
16 But be it fo, I did not But I know, fome will be ready to object to 16
burdes you: Nevertheless

, all this ; as what will not Envy and Fallhood
being crafty, I caught you
with Guile,

suggest, where there is any Interest, in fixing an
Odium: Let it be so, I did not indeed myself
burthen you, nor demand Subsistence among you
as my Right; but perhaps it will be insinuated,
that being subtil I took you in by an Artifice,
making others the Instruments of my mercenary

Principles, while I appeared myself so disinte-
17 Did I make Gain of rested. I answer, by appealing to plain Fact. 17
you by any of them whom Did I make a Prey of you, by any one whom I sent
I sent unto you?

to you with any Message from me, or who came
to me about any Business while I was resident
among you? Name the Man, if you can, on
whom there is Reason to fix any such Suspicion.
I defy the boldest of mine Enemies to alledge,

what must recoil on himself with so much In18 I desired Titus, and

famy. I know, that I intreated Titus to make 18
with him I sent a Brother :
Did Titus make a Gain of you a Visit, and with [him] 1 sent a Brother, to
you? Walked we not in the keep him Company in the Journey. Did Titus
same Spirit ? Walked we not then make a Gain of you? Did we not walk in
in the same Steps ?

the Same Spirit [and] in the same Steps?' Did
not all his Actions resemble mine, as formed
upon the same Principles of strict Integrity, and

generous Friendship? Vol. IV.

Again,

19.

it.

come,

1

530

All that he spoke, was for their Edification. Sect. 20.

Again, do you think that we make any Apology 19 Again, think you that to you, and endeavour to amuse

we excuse ourselves unto with mere

you
2 Cor. XII. Words, mentioning Titus's coming to excuse my in Christ : But we'da al

you? We speak before God
own Absence? In the Sight of GOD we speak, Things, dearly beloved, for
as those who know he is Witness to every Action your edifying.
and Word; yea, that he knows the secret Springs
of Affection, which actuate our Hearts; and we
speak, as those that are in Cbrift by a folemn Pro-
fession of his Religion, and should abhor any
Thing which might bring a Reflection upon

And all Things that we say, when we
are endeavouring to reconcile your Minds to us,
are not for our own Sake, but [we speak] Be-
loved, for your Edification ; that by removing
your Prejudices against us, we may be capable

of being more serviceable to you in your most
20 important Interests. For I am really distressed 20 For I fear, left when
on this Account, and sadly fear, left by any such as I would, and that I

I I shall not find you
Means, when I come unto you with an Heart shall be found unto you such
full of Christian Tenderness, and with all ima- as ye would not: Lest
ginable Readiness to do my utmost to comfort there be Debates, Envyings,
and refresh your Spirits, I should not find you such ings, Whisperings, Swel-
as I could wish; and that I hould be found by lings, Tumults

. :
you, such, as ye would not wis I should be.
fear I shall have some Work before me of a very
ungrateful Kind, and which I would by all
Means desire, if possible, by this Admonition to
prevent. For I am very apprehensive, left [there
should be] Contentions (a), arising from secret and
very unbecoming Emulations, and growing up to
Transports of Wraths, Strifes, where there is a
Clashing either of Opinions or secular Interests ;
which will tend to produce open Reproaches or
secret Whisperings, to the manifest Prejudice
of each others Character ; the inward Swellings
of Pride and Ambition, or perhaps the open Con.
fusion of Riots and Tumults, by which your
Cause in general will be exposed to publick Con-

tempt.

1

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(a) Contentions, Emulations, &c. All these were the natural Consequences of those Debates which had arisen among them; and therefore he, in a very artful Manner, gives this for lemn Warning with Relation to themi

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