2 Corinthians 4

* The apostles laboured with much diligence, sincerity, and

faithfulness. (1-7) Their sufferings for the gospel were great,

yet with rich supports. (8-12) Prospects of eternal glory keep

believers from fainting under troubles. (13-18)

1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy

from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us

on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The

apostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair and

specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry

serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable

opinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes a

glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the

devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the

light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no

pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it.

The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilful

blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the

matter or the end of the apostles' preaching; they preached

Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the

uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are

servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants

to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the

sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for

the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of

the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the

Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel

light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of

the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as

other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious

doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons

of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker

vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding

them, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry.
8-12 The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with

wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends,

as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leave

them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well as

fightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The apostle speaks

of their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings of

Christ, that people might see the power of Christ's

resurrection, and of grace in and from the living Jesus. In

comparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time,

in prosperous circumstances.
13-18 The grace of faith is an effectual remedy against

fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised,

and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance of

theirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in a

suffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, their

sufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God's

glory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as well as their

preaching and conversation, are for the good of the church and

the glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness was

their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce

heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be

light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all

temporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory to

come was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description.

If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trials

light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties

be! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. There

are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there is

this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal,

seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look

off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for

worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give

diligence to make our future happiness sure.

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