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Reflections on St. Paul's disinterested and prudent Conduet. 531 '21 And left when I come tempt. [And] indeed on the whole, I am Sect. 20. again, my GoC will humble me among you, and that very apprehensive, left my GOD jould humble I hall bewail many which and mortify me, when I come among you again; 2 Cor
. XII. have finned already, and so that my Spirit should even be dejected and have not repented of the broken, on Account of the fad Change which tion, and Lascivivulness which hath passed since I left Corinth; and left I should they have committed. find Cause to mourn over many who have finned
already, and who, tho' several others have been
IM PRO V E M E N T.
OW amiable was the Goodness of the Apostle, in adding all Pa
tience to those Signs of his divine Mission, which were with fo Ver. 12. much Splendor given among the Corinthians, when there were so many Things to have excused, or rather to have vindicated his Severity. Such Meekness had he learned of Christ, such does he teach to succeeding Ministers and private Christians. How disinterested was his Behaviour in every Part of it; not Jeeking their Substance but their Souls! And indeed Ver. 14. what is the greatest Gain, which Avarice in its most artful and successful Forms, can make of the Ministry, when compared with winning Souls to Christ, and bringing them into the Way of Salvation! Who that deserves the Name of a Minister, would not gladly sacrifice the Views of worldly Interest to this, and rejoice in an Opportunity of spending, and Ver. 15. of being spent for this !
Yet we see, that even this cannot always command the Returns of Love : But the Love, as well as the Praise, of Men is, in Comparison, a Matter of small Importance. It will surely engage the Approbation of God; and all the Slights and Injuries over which this benevolent Difposition triumphs, will be remembered by him, with proportionable Tokens of his gracious Acceptance.
Happy was that Prudence, which made the Proof of Integrity so Ver.16,-18. clear, and the Appeal to the whole World so confident, as it here appears. So may we avoid every Appearance of any Thing, which might beget a Suspicion of sinister Designs; that we may vindicate ourselves from every such Infinuation, with the noble Freedom of those who are apX x x 2
532 The Apostle again mentions bis Design of coming to them. Sect. 20. proved to GOD, and the Consciences of Men. To preserve this, may.we
always speak and act as before GOD, in Christ, and do all Things, not for the Gratification of our own Humour, or Advancement of our fe-. cular Interest, but for the Edification of others.
The Ministers of the Gospel cannot but be bumbled, when any Thing contrary to the Rules and Genius of it, is to be found among the People of their Care and Charge; whether they be Pollutions of the Flesh, or of the Spirit : And they may be in some Instances, as effectually mortified and distressed, by Debates, Envyings, Strifes, Backbitings and Whisperings, as by Uncleanness, Fornication and Lasciviousness
. But when any of these Things occur, as it is to be feared that in most Christian Societies, or at least in such as are considerable for their Numbers, they sometimes will; let it be remembered that they happen by the Permission of - Providence. God hath his wise Ends in suffering, what is indeed so lamentable : Thus humbling the Shepherd, that the Flock may
be farther edified; that he may approve his Fidelity in more vigorous Efforts for Reformation; and may not be excessively exalted by that better Success, wherewith in other Instances God may crown his Endeavours.
The Apostle concludes his Epiftle with affuring the Corin
thians very. tenderly, how much it would grieve him to be obliged to fhew his Apostolical Power, by inflicting ang miraculous Punishment on those who continued to oppose bim; subjoining at the End of all proper Salutations, and his folemn Benediction. 2 Cor. XIII. I, throughout.
2. CORINTHIANS XIIF. I.
2 CORINTHIANS XIII. I Sect. 21. UT I will now return from that Digression, THIS is the third Time
I am coming to you: which hath carried me away from what I
In 2 Cor. XIII.
was entering upon before. [It is) now, as I said
I. ani coming to you (a); and as seyeral. Cases will
(a) The third Time I tell you I am coming :: Ipiler Tero spopa..] So the Words taken, though I own them ambiguous. Perhaps this may intimate, that this was the third
And declares, that then he would not spare them.
533 In the Mouth of two or three come before me, on which it will be neceffary Sect. 21. Witnesses thall every Word to give my Judgment, I affure you, I shall think be established.
myself obliged to proceed on that reafonable 2 Cor. XIII.
of what cometh from ibe Mouth of two or thrée
, that if I come again, ready in any scandalous and aggravated Manner, I will not spare :
and to all the rest, that they may take Notice of it,
Power, with which God hath endowed me. 3 Since ye seek a Proof Since after all the Evidence you have already had,
3 of Christ speaking in me, some of you are so strangely unreasonable, as to weak, but is mighty in you. seek a farther Proof of Christ Speaking by his
Spirit in me, even of the Authority of that glo-
you, but powerful among you by what he
such Demonstrations of it, as may perhaps cost. 4 For though he was cru- some of you dear.
For thobe was once cru
4. cified through Weakness
: cified as thro' a State of Weakness, submitting to yet
Epifle he had wrote to them, in which he had mentioned his purpose of coming, but we cannot certainly infer it. He seems here to resume the Sentence he had begun, Chap. xii. 14. Such Interruptions are frequent in St. Paul, and ift many other Writers, who have not a Regard to an artificial Dress, and do not stand to correct every little Inaccuracy, but abound in Quickness and Variety of Thought, as Mr. Locke justly observes.
(6) I will not spare you.] It is (as Bishop Burnet very justly observes,) a great Confirmation of the Veracity of the Apostles, that when Factions were raised against them, they used none of the Arts of Flattery, however necessary they might seem; but [depended on the Force of a miraculous Power to reduce Offenders ; which it would have been a most absurd Thing to have pretended to, if they had not really been conscious to themselves, that it was engaged in their Favour. Burnet on the Art. pag. 62. See 1 Cor. iv. 21. Note (f).
(c) Already wrought.] This may, as Mr. Cradock and others observe, very probably refer to some miraculous Punishment, inflicted lately on the incestuous Corinthian. 1
534 They should examine, whether they were in the Faith, Sect. 21. those Infirmities of mortal Flesh, which put him, yet he liveth by the Power.
into the Hands of his Enemies, and waving the' of God For we also are 2 Cor. XIII. Exertion of that miraculous Energy, by which live with him by the Power
he could so foon have rescued himself, and de- of God toward you.
may have seemed for a while dormant and dead. 5 You examine and try me; but let me admo 5 Examine yourselves, nith you
to turn the Search inward, and to ex- whether ye be in the Faith; amine and try yourselves, that you may certainly Know ye not your own know, whether ye are in the Faith, whether
selves, how that Jesus Chrift
(2) Examine yourselves—prove yourselves.] Whether you be doxipos, such as can stand the Teft; or adoxogos, such as cannot, for that is the proper Import of the Word which we render Reprobates. Íhe Difference between Trespaçols, and doxopiable, seems to be gradual: Examine, and thoroughly prove.
(e) Unless ye are disapproved.] Dr. Guyse paraphrases the Words as per lo adoxipos est,. « less there be something very disapproveable in you ;” and it certainly expresses the Sense with great Propriety; but as the Apostle fupposes this to be something, which would prove that Christ was not dwelling with and among them, it seems that it must be extended to the Sense given in the Paraphrase.
that they might have a Proof of his Apoftolical Authority. 535 - 6 But I trust that ye shall the Touchstone ? But whatever be the Cafe Sect. 21. know that we are not Re- of any of you, I hope ye shall soon kucw that probates. we are not disapproved, and have not lost (1) our
2 Cor. XIN. Evidence of the divine Presence and Approba7 Now I pray to God tion.
But I am far from defiring to produce 7 that ye do no Evil; not that such Evidences of it, as would be grievous to but that ye should do thai you, and can truly fay, that I wish to GOD se which is honest, though we may do no Evil in any Respect, and not that we may be as Reprobates. be manifelted [as] approved, by such awful Me
thods as those to which I refer : But on the con
ge may do what is good, beautiful and amiable, that which wiil adorn your Profession in the most effectual Manner; tho' we fiould be as if we were disapproved, and upon a Level with
those who have no Testimonials of an extraor8 For we can do nothing dinary Mission to produce.
For we are not 8
important System of Truth, which God hath in-
Tenderness on the other.
raculous Powers to the Purposes we have hinted;
(f) Have not loft, &c.] It seems that the Posibility of losing extraordinary Gifts by the Abuse of them, is finely insinuated in this oblique Manner ; and it might, if rightly understood, have its Weight with many of them.
(3) Being set in perfect good Order.] This I think the Import of xalaplooiv, that perfect Reformation which was not yet wrought, though something considerable had been done towards it.