2 Corinthians 4* The apostles laboured with much diligence, sincerity, andfaithfulness. (1-7) Their sufferings for the gospel were great,yet with rich supports. (8-12) Prospects of eternal glory keepbelievers from fainting under troubles. (13-18)1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercyfrom God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped uson, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. Theapostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair andspecious pretences. They did not try to make their ministryserve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourableopinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes aglorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of thedevil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep thelight of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares nopains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it.The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilfulblindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not thematter or the end of the apostles' preaching; they preachedChrist as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to theuttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers areservants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servantsto the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold thesun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable forthe gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning ofthe first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of theSpirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospellight and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers ofthe gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses asother men. God could have sent angels to make known the gloriousdoctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sonsof men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weakervessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholdingthem, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry. 8-12 The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met withwonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends,as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leavethem nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well asfightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The apostle speaksof their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings ofChrist, that people might see the power of Christ'sresurrection, and of grace in and from the living Jesus. Incomparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time,in prosperous circumstances. 13-18 The grace of faith is an effectual remedy againstfainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised,and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance oftheirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in asuffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, theirsufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God'sglory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as well as theirpreaching and conversation, are for the good of the church andthe glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness wastheir support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounceheavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to belight and short, and but for a moment. The weight of alltemporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory tocome was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description.If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trialslight, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficultiesbe! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. Thereare unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there isthis vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal,seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then lookoff from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek forworldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us givediligence to make our future happiness sure.
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