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2 Corinthians 1:23-24

23. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

23. Ego autem testem invoco Deum in animam meam, quod parcens vobis nondum venerim Corinthum.

24. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

24. Non quod dominemur fidei vestrae, sed adiutores sumus 301301     “Nous sommes adiuteurs de vostre ioye; ou, nous aidons a;” — “We are helpers of your joy, or, we aid.” gaudii vestri: fide enim statis.

2 Corinthians 2:1-2

1. But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

1. Decreveram autem hoc in me ipso, non amplius venire in tristitia ad vos. 302302     “De ne venir à vous derechef auec tristesse, ou, pour vous apporter fascherie;” — “Not to come again to you in sorrow, or, to cause you distress.”

2. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

2. Si enim ego contristo vos: et quis est qui me exhilaret, nisi is qui erit tristitia affectus ex me?


23. I call God for a witness. He now begins to assign a reason for his change of purpose; for hitherto he has merely repelled calumny. When, however, he says that he spared them, he indirectly throws back the blame upon them, and thus shows them that it would be unfair if he were put to grief through their fault, but that it would be much more unfair if they should permit this; but most of all unfair if they should give their assent to so base a calumny, as in that case they would be substituting in their place an innocent person, as if he had been guilty of their sin. Now he spared them in this respect, that if he had come he would have been constrained to reprove them more severely, while he wished rather that they should of their own accord repent previously to his arrival, that there might be no occasion for a harsher remedy, 303303     “Remede plus aspre et rigoureux;” — “A harsher and more rigorous remedy.” which is a signal evidence of more than paternal lenity. For how much forbearance there was in shunning this necessity, when he had just ground of provocation!

He makes use, also, of an oath, that he may not seem to have contrived something to serve a particular purpose. For the matter in itself was of no small importance, and it was of great consequence that he should be entirely free from all suspicion of falsehood and pretence. Now there are two things that make an oath lawful and pious — the occasion and the disposition. The occasion I refer to is, where an oath is not employed rashly, that is, in mere trifles, or even in matters of small importance, but only where there is a call for it. The disposition I refer to is, where there is not so much regard had to private advantage, as concern felt for the glory of God, and the advantage of the brethren: For this end must always be kept in view, that our oaths may promote the honor of God, and promote also the advantage of our neighbours in a matter that is befitting. 304304     “Moyennant que ce soit en chose iuste et raisonable;” — “Provided it is in a matter that is just and reasonable.”

The form of the oath must also be observed — first, that he calls God to witness; and, secondly, that he says upon my soul For in matters that are doubtful and obscure, where man’s knowledge fails, we have recourse to God, that he, who alone is truth, may bear testimony to the truth. But the man that appeals to God as his witness, calls upon him at the same time to be an avenger of perjury, in the event of his declaring what is false. This is what is meant by the phrase upon my soul. “I do not object to his inflicting punishment upon me, if I am guilty of falsehood.” Although, however, this is not always expressed in so many words, it is, notwithstanding, to be understood. For

if we are unfaithful, God remaineth faithful
and will not deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13.)

He will not suffer, therefore, the profanation of his name to go unpunished.

24. Not that we exercise dominion He anticipates an objection that might be brought forward. “What! Do you then act so tyrannically 305305     “Es — tu si insupportable, et si orgueilleux?” — “Are you so insufferable and so proud?” as to be formidable in your very look? Such were not the gravity of a Christian pastor, but the cruelty of a savage tyrant.” He answers this objection first indirectly, by declaring that matters are not so; and afterwards directly, by showing that the very circumstance, that he had been constrained to treat them more harshly, was owing to his fatherly affection. When he says that he does not exercise dominion over their faith, he intimates, that such a power is unjust and intolerable — nay more, is tyranny in the Church. For faith ought to be altogether exempt, and to the utmost extent free, from the yoke of men. We must, however, observe, who it is that speaks, for if ever there was a single individual of mortals, that had authority to claim for himself such a dominion, Paul assuredly was worthy of such a privilege. Yet he acknowledges, 306306     “Il confesse franchement;” — “He frankly confesses.” that it does not belong to him. Hence we infer, that faith owns no subjection except to the word of God, and that it is not at all in subjection to human control. 307307     The views here expressed by Calvin are severely animadverted upon in the following terms by the Romanists, in the Annotations appended to the Rheims version of the New Testament: “Calvin and his seditious sectaries with other like which despise dominion, as St. Jude describeth such, would by this place deliver themselves from all yoke of spiritual Magistrates and Rulers: namely, that they be subject to no man touching their faith, or for the examination and trial of their doctrine, but to God and his word only. And no marvel that the malefactors and rebels of the Church would come to no tribunal but God’s, that so they may remain unpunished at least during this life. For though the Scriptures plainely condemne their heresies, yet they could writhe themselves out by false glosses, constructions, corruptions, and denials of the bookes to be canonical, if there were no lawes or judicial sentences of men to rule and represse them.” To these statements Dr. Fulke in his elaborate work in refutation of the errors of Popery, (Lond. 1601,) p. 559, appropriately replies as follows: “This is nothing els but a lewd and senselesse slander of Calvin and vs, that we despise lordship, because we will not be subject to the tyranny of Antichrist, that would be Lord of our faith, and arrogateth vnto himselfe auctoritie to make new articles of fayth, which have no ground or warrant in the word of God. But CALVIN did willingly acknowledge all auctoritie of the ministers of the Church, which the Scripture doth allow unto them, and both practiced, and submitted himselfe to the discipline of the Church, and the lawful gouernours thereof, although he would not yield unto the tyrannicall yoke of the Pope, who is neither soueraigne of the Church, nor any true member of the same. Yea, Calvin and we submit ourselves, not only to the auctoritie of the Church, but also of the Ciuile Magistrates to be punished, if we shall be found to teach or doe any thing contrary to the doctrine of faith, receyued and approved by the Church, whereas the Popish clergy, in causes of religion, will not be subject to the temporal gouernors, judgement, and correction.” — Ed. Erasmus has observed in his Annotations, that by supplying the Greek particle ἕνεκα, it may be understood in this way — Not that we exercise dominion over youwith respect to your faitha rendering which amounts almost to the same thing. For he intimates, that there is no spiritual dominion, except that of God only. This always remains a settled point — pastors have no peculiar dominion over men’s consciences, 308308     “Que les Pasteurs et Evesques n’ont point de iurisdiction propre sur les consciences;” — “That Pastors and Bishops have no peculiar jurisdiction over consciences.” inasmuch as they are ministers, not lords. (1 Peter 5:3.)

What then does he leave to himself and others? He calls them helpers of their joy — by which term I understand happiness. At the same time he employs the term joy as opposed to the terror which tyrants awaken through means of their cruelty, and also false prophets, 309309     “Et les faux — apostres aussi;” — “And false Apostles also.” resembling tyrants, that rule with rigor and authority, as we read in Ezekiel 34:4. He argues from contraries, that he did by no means usurp dominion over the Corinthians, inasmuch as he endeavored rather to maintain them in the possession of a peace that was free, and full of joy.

For by faith ye stand. As to the reason why he adds this, others either pass it over altogether in silence, or they do not explain it with sufficient distinctness. For my part, I am of opinion that he here again argues from contraries. For if the nature and effect of faith be such that we lean, in order that we may stand, 310310     “Afin que nous demeurions fermes;” — “In order that we may remain secure.” it is absurd to speak of faith as being subject to men. Thus he removes that unjust dominion, with which, he had a little before declared, he was not chargeable.

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