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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 6 - Verse 18
Verse 18. And will be a Father unto you. A father is the protector, counsellor, and guide of his children, he instructs them, provides for them, and counsels them in time of perplexity. No relation is more tender than this. In accordance with this, God says, that he will be to his people their Protector, Counsellor, Guide, and Friend. He will cherish towards them the feelings of a father; he will provide for them, he will acknowledge them as his children. No higher honour can be conferred on mortals than to be adopted into the family of God, and to be permitted to call the Most High our Father. No rank is so elevated as that of being the sons and the daughters of the Lord Almighty. Yet this is the common appellation by which God addresses his people; and the most humble in rank, the most poor and ignorant of his friends on earth, the most despised among men, may reflect that they are the children of the ever-living God, and have the Maker of the heavens and the earth as their Father and their eternal Friend. How poor are all the honours of the world compared with this!
It means one who has all power; and is applied to God in contradistinction from idols that are weak and powerless. God is able to protect his people, and they who put their trust in him shall never be confounded. What has he to fear who has a Friend of almighty power?
REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 6
(1.) It is right and proper to exhort Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain, 2 Co 6:1. Even they sometimes abuse their privileges; become neglectful of the mercy of God; undervalue the truths of religion, and do not make as much as they should do of the glorious truths that are fitted to sanctify and to save. Every Christian should endeavour to make just as much as possible of his privileges, and to become just as eminent as he can possibly be in his Christian profession.
(2.) The benefits of salvation to this world come through the intercession of Jesus Christ, 2 Co 6:2. It is because God is pleased to hear him; because he calls on God in an accepted time, that we have any hope of pardon. The sinner enjoys no offer of mercy, and no possibility of pardon, except what he owes to Jesus Christ. Should he cease to plead for men, the offers of salvation would be withdrawn, and the race would perish for ever.
(3.) The world is under a dispensation of mercy, 2 Co 6:2. Men maybe saved. God is willing to show compassion, and to rescue them from ruin.
(4.) How important is the present moment! 2 Co 6:2. How important is each moment! It may be the last period of mercy. No sinner can calculate with any certainty on another instant of time. God holds his breath, and with infinite ease he can remove him to eternity. Eternal results hang on the present, the fleeting moment—and yet how unconcerned are the mass of men about their present condition; how unanxious about what may possibly or probably occur the next moment! Now the sinner may be pardoned; the next moment he may be beyond the reach of forgiveness. This instant the bliss of heaven is offered him; the next he may be solemnly excluded from hope and heaven!
(5.) The ministers of the gospel should give no occasion of offence to any one, 2 Co 6:3. On each one of them depends a portion of the honour of the ministry in this world, and of the honour of Jesus Christ among men. How solemn is this responsibility! How pure, and holy, and unblamable should they be!
(6.) Ministers and all Christians should be willing to suffer in the cause of the Redeemer, 2 Co 6:4,5. If the early ministers and other Christians were called to endure the pains of imprisonment and persecution for the honour of the gospel, assuredly we should be willing also to suffer. Why should there be any more reason for their suffering than for ours?
(7.) We see what our religion has cost, 2 Co 6:4,5. It has come down to us through suffering. All the privileges that we enjoy have been the fruit of toil, and blood, and tears, and sighs. The best blood in human veins has flowed to procure these blessings; the holiest men on earth have wept, and been scourged, and tortured, that we might possess these privileges. What thanks should we give to God for all this! How highly should we prize the religion that has cost so much!
(8.) In trial we should evince such a spirit as not to dishonour, but to honour our religion, 2 Co 6:3-5. This is as incumbent on all Christians as it is on ministers of the gospel. It is in such scenes that the reality of religion is tested. It is then that its power is seen. It is then that its value may be known. Christians and Christian ministers often do good in circumstances of poverty, persecution, and sickness, which they never do in health, and in popular favour, and in prosperity. And God often places his people in trial that they may do good then, expecting that they will accomplish more then than they could in prosperous circumstances. They whose aim it is to do good have often occasion to bless God that they were subjected to trial. Bunyan wrote the "Pilgrim's Progress" in a dungeon; and almost all the works of Baxter were written when he was suffering under persecution, and forbidden to preach the gospel. The devil is often foiled in this way. He persecutes and opposes Christians —and on the rack and at the stake they do most to destroy his kingdom; he throws them into dungeons—and they make books which go down even to the millennium, making successful war on the empire of darkness. Christians, therefore, should esteem it a privilege to be permitted to suffer on account of Christ, Php 1:29.
(9.) If ministers and other Christians do any good, they must be pure, 2 Co 6:6,7. The gospel is to be commended by pureness, and knowledge, and the word of truth, and the armour of righteousness. It is in this way that they are to meet opposition; in this way that they are to propagate their sentiments. No man need expect to do good in the ministry or as a private Christian, who is not a holy man. No man who is a holy man can help doing good. It will be a matter of course that he will shed a healthful moral influence around him. And he will no more live without effect, than the sun sheds its steady beams on the earth without effect. His influence may be very noiseless and still, like the sunbeams or the dew, but it will be felt in the world. Wicked men can resist anything else better than they can a holy example. They can make a mock of preaching; they can deride exhortation; they can throw away a tract; they can burn the Bible; but what can they do against a holy example? No more than they can against the vivifying and enlightening beams of the sun; and a man who leads a holy life cannot help doing good, and cannot be prevented from doing good.
(10.) They who are Christians must expect to meet with much dishonour, and to be subjected often to the influence of evil report, 2 Co 6:8. The world is unfriendly to religion, and its friends must never be surprised if their motives are impeached, and their names calumniated.
(11.) Especially is this the case with ministers, 2 Co 6:8. They should make up their minds to it, and they should not suppose that any strange thing had happened to them if they are called thus to suffer.
(12.) They who are about to make a profession of religion, and they who are about entering on the work of the ministry, or who are agitating the question whether they should be ministers, should ask themselves whether they are prepared for this. They should count the cost; nor should they either make a profession of religion or think of the ministry as a profession, unless they are willing to meet with dishonour, and to go through evil report; to be poor, (2 Co 6:10,) and to be despised and persecuted, or to die in the cause which they embrace.
(13.) Religion has power to sustain the soul in trials, 2 Co 6:10. Why should he be sad who has occasion to rejoice always? Why should he deem himself poor, though he has slender earthly possessions, who is able to make many rich? Why should he be melancholy as if he had nothing, who has Christ as his portion, and who is an heir of all things? Let not the poor, who are rich in faith, despond as though they had nothing. They have a treasure which gold cannot purchase, and which will be of infinite value when all other treasure fails. He that has an everlasting inheritance in heaven cannot be called a poor man. And he that can look to such an inheritance should not be unwilling to part with his earthly possessions. Those who seem to be most wealthy are often the poorest of mortals; and those who seem to be poor, or who are in humble circumstances, often have an enjoyment of even this world which is unknown in the palaces and at the tables of the great. They look on all things as the work of their Father; and in their humble dwellings, and with their humble fare, they have an enjoyment of the bounties of their heavenly Benefactor, which is not experienced often in the dwellings of the great and the rich.
(14.) A people should render to a minister and a pastor a return of love and confidence that shall be proportionate to the love which is shown to them, 2 Co 6:12. This is but a reasonable and fair requital; and this is necessary, not only to the comfort, but to the success of a minister. What good can he do unless he has the affections and confidence of his people?
(15.) The compensation or recompense which a minister has a right to expect and require for arduous toil, is that his people should be "enlarged" in love towards him, and that they should yield themselves to the laws of the Redeemer, and be separate from the world, 2 Co 6:13. And this is an ample reward. It is what he seeks, what he prays for, what he most ardently desires. If he is worthy of his office, he will seek not theirs but them, (2 Co 12:14,) and he will be satisfied for all his toils if he sees them walking in the truth, (3 Jo 1:4,) and showing in their lives the pure and elevated principles of the gospel which they profess to love.
(16.) The welfare of religion depends on the fact that Christians should be separate from a vain, and gay, and wicked world, 2 Co 6:14-16. Why should they partake of those things in which they can, if Christians, have nothing in common? Why attempt to mingle light with darkness? to form a compact between Christ and Belial? or to set up a polluted idol in the temple of the living God? The truth is, there are great and eternal principles in the gospel which should not be surrendered, and which cannot be broken down. Christ intended to set up a kingdom that should be unlike the kingdoms of this world. And he designed that his people should be governed by different principles from the people of this world.
(17.) They who are about to make a profession of religion, should resolve to separate themselves from the world, 2 Co 6:14,15. Religion cannot exist where there is no such separation; and they who are unwilling to forsake infidel companions and the gay amusements and vanities of life, and to find their chosen friends and pleasures among the people of God, can have no evidence that they are Christians. The world, with all its wickedness and its gay pleasures, must be forsaken, and there must be an effectual line drawn between the friends of God and the friends of sin.
Let us, then, who profess to be the friends of the Redeemer, remember how pure and holy we should be. It should not be indeed with the spirit of the Pharisee; it should not be with a spirit that will lead us to say, Stand by, for I am holier than thou;" but it should be, while we discharge all our duties to our impenitent friends, and while in all our intercourse with the world we should be honest and true, and while we do not refuse to mingle with them as neighbours and citizens as far as we can without compromitting Christian principles, still our chosen friends and our dearest friendships should be with the people of God. For, his friends should be our friends; our happiness should be with them, and the world should see that we prefer the friends of the Redeemer to the friends of gaiety, ambition, and sin.
(18.) Christians are the holy temple of God, 2 Co 6:16. How pure should they be! How free should they be from sin! How careful to maintain consciences void of offence!
(19.) What an inestimable privilege it is to be a Christian! (2 Co 6:18;) to be a child of God! to feel that he is a Father and a Friend! to feel that though we may be forsaken by all others, though poor and despised, yet there is one who never forsakes—one who never forgets that he has sons and daughters dependent on him, and who need his constant care! Compared with this, how small the honour of being permitted to call the rich our friends, or to be regarded as the sons or daughters of nobles and of princes! Let the Christian then most highly prize his privileges, and feel that he is raised above all the elevations of rank and honour which this world can bestow. All these shall fade away, and the highest and the lowest shall meet on the same level in the grave, and alike return to dust. But the elevation of the child of God shall only begin to be visible and appreciated when all other honours fade away.
(20.) Let all seek to become the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Let us aspire to this rather than to earthly honours; let us seek this rather than to be numbered with the rich and the great. All cannot be honoured in this world, and few are they who can be regarded as belonging to elevated ranks here. But all may be the children of the living God, and be permitted to call the Lord Almighty their Father and their Friend. Oh! if men could as easily be permitted to call themselves the sons of monarchs and princes; if they could as easily be admitted to the palaces of the great, and sit down at their tables, as they can enter heaven, how greedily would they embrace it! And yet how poor and paltry would be such honour and pleasure compared with that of feeling that we are the adopted children of the great and the eternal God!
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