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The Apostle enters upon this Chapter with one of the most endearing Expressions of Entreaty, to enforce what he wrote to them, in holding forth the Meekness, and Gentleness, of Christ. And he follows it up, with several very interesting Arguments.
(1) Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: (2) But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
It should seem, by what the Apostle here saith, in the opening of this Chapter, and by several circumstances, in what follows in the body of it, that some had spoken slightingly, both of his person, and ministry; and had endeavored to lessen the reputation of his doctrine, and to render him contemptible. It is truly worthy the Reader's observation, that though Paul felt the unkindness of it as a man, he wished to pass it by, as a Christian, and a minister. Yea, he endeavored to turn it to some advantage, in passing away from the consideration of himself, to the cause of his Master. And, in a most interesting, and affectionate manner, he entreats them, on the best of all possible motives, the meekness, and gentleness of Christ, that they would attend to those grand, and most momentous truths, he had been bringing before them. Reader! pause over the unanswerable argument: the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Contemplate the Person, grace, loveliness, of the Redeemer! When he was upon earth, he fulfilled the prediction God the Father had given of him, in the most minute point: so that had any one taken Isaiah's prophecy in his hand, and read that part, which referred to the Lord Jesus, as the Redeemer passed by; his mind would have been instantly struck, with the Prophet's picture, compared to the original. I shall not strive, nor cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the Streets: the bruised reed he shall not break, nor quench the smoking flax. Compare Isaiah 42:2-3 with Matthew 12:19-20 . And, as these were the great features of his character, when in our nature the Son of God appeared on earth: so the Holy Ghost, in glorifying Christ, manifests in every heart of the redeemed, that the fruits of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, Galatians 5:22 . It is very blessed to he enabled by the Spirit, to behold Christ, and by his sweet influences, to have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, Romans 8:9 .
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
The Scriptures of God do not unfrequently make use of similitudes, to represent divine things by. And among the many, the figure of a Warrior, is often referred to, by way of illustration. And it is very striking. For the whole life of a child of God, from the moment of regeneration, until grace is finished in glory, is nothing but one continued warfare. And the holy warrior is never unclad of his spiritual armour, until he is undressed at death.
(4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (6) And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
The Apostle hath inclosed what he saith of the weapons of his warfare, within a parenthesis. But evidently not with an intention, that the Church might read them, or not; for they are very highly expressive of the Christian character. And those weapons, are too mighty, and too much needed, by every regenerated child of God, to be overlooked, or forgotten, in this day of conflict. Reader! look at a few of them only, and judge for yourself. They are, the Scriptures of God, the sword of the Spirit, and the promises of the covenant; yea, all those gifts, and strengthenings, and communications, from Christ, as an head to his body the Church. And, also the graces of the Holy Ghost. Paul hath more largely dwelt upon them, in his Epistle to the Church at Ephesus (Ephesians 6:10 &c), which I refer. But here it is very, blessed to observe, with what firmness the Apostle rests upon them, as not carnal, but perfectly distinguished from them; and being sure of success in the mighty hand of God, for throwing to the ground, all the strong holds of sin, and Satan; and bringing everything under subjection, in, and to, Christ.
Reader! while reviewing the holy armory, let us not lose sight of the great Captain of our salvation. It is not our armor, nor our use of it, which bringeth victory. We may be clad with the whole; but unless the Lord himself goeth forth, for the salvation of his people, our strength will be very weakness. Oh! how blessed, and how profitable it is, to behold Christ, fighting our battles, conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave, for his redeemed. Proclaiming war with all the foes of his people, until he hath brought the whole under their feet. Oh! for grace to eye Christ in all the way through; and for ourselves to stand still, and see the salvation of God. I pray the Reader to seek for grace in order to a right apprehension of the glorious subject, for it is most glorious. Paul indeed, calls the weapons of warfare, our weapons; because, in fact, they are ours, when put into our hands by Christ. But the war is wholly his, the victory his, the blessedness, and the triumphs, his. I make a nice distinction between those things I and yet not more nice than scriptural. The Son of God it is, that brings his captives out of the prison-house, and destroys all that would keep them in bondage. No weapons, no warfare of theirs, contributes an atom towards the victory. And all their joy ariseth from what Christ hath done for them, not by them. It is Christ's interest in us for the recovery of his spouse the Church; not our interest in him, which is the first, and predisposing cause of all. The comfort of a child of God, is not from the victories, which at times the Lord helps him to accomplish; over this foe, and that enemy; but in the full, and complete triumphs and victories of Christ himself, in destroying the very nature of sin, and death; by destroying him that had the power of death, and forever rooting out misery from among his people, Hebrews 2:14-15 ; Ephesians 1:10 .
(7) Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. (8) For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: (9) That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. (10) For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. (11) Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. (12) For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (13) But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. (14) For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: (15) Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labors; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, (16) To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. (17) But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (18) For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
It appears, from the whole of what is here said, that the faithful services of Paul, met with a very unkind reception, from those which owed him a different treatment. But so it is. And, no doubt, highly proper it should be. Holy men of old felt all this, but shrunk not from duty. Their object was, to shew themselves approved of God, not man. The scourge of tongues can hurt no further than the Lord permits. And, while Jesus smiles, it matters not who frowns. And perhaps, these very Corinthians, were at length subdued, and won over, by the conciliating spirit of the Apostle. Faithfulness is sure in the end, to be successful. And, in the mean time, that sweet promise to Christ, in Him, belongs also to all his seed. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee, in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me saith the Lord, Isaiah 54:17 .
Lamb of God! be it my mercy to learn of thee, for thou art meek, and lowly in heart. Thou knowest, Lord! and blessed be thy Name, since thou wert pleased to call me by thy grace, that thou hast taught me, in some measure, also to know, that by nature, and by practice.
I am haughty and proud; and like ground thrown open, I am exposed to all the ravages of the wild beasts, and to the still worse ravages of my own poor, fallen, sinful, and corrupt affections. Precious Jesus! what a refreshing, sweet thought, to comfort me under these depressing circumstances; thou art the perfection of thy redeemed! Divinely fitted, and divinely disposed, to be the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, of thy people!
Lord! let me go forth to the holy war, in thy strength, and in thy power. Do thou put on me, all the holy armor. But while divinely clad, never, never, my glorious Head, may I for a moment forget, that all the victory is thine, and all the glory thine!
Send forth, Lord, thy servants, to the work of the ministry; and may they prove that they are thine, and sent by thee, in passing through evil report, as well as good report. Oh! the blessedness, amidst the strife of tongues, to have the Spirit's testimony, that they have not run unsent, nor labored in vain. God the Holy Ghost speaking in them, and by them, to the hearts of his people.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28