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7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
7. But we have this treasure. Those that heard Paul glorying in such a magnificent strain as to the excellence of his ministry, and beheld, on the other hand, his person, contemptible and abject in the eyes of the world, might be apt to think that he was a silly and ridiculous person, and might look upon his boasting as childish, while forming their estimate of him from the meanness of his person. 464464 “Ils le iugeoyent selon l’apparence de sa personne, qui estoit petite et contemptible;” — “They judged of him according to the appearance of his person, which was small and contemptible.” The wicked, more particularly, caught hold of this pretext, when they wished to bring into contempt every thing that was in him. What, however, he saw to be most of all unfavorable to the honor of his Apostleship among the ignorant, he turns by an admirable contrivance into a means of advancing it. First of all, he employs the similitude of a treasure, which is not usually laid up in a splendid and elegantly adorned chest, but rather in some vessel that is mean and worthless; 465465 “The term σκεῦος (vessel), from σχέω to hold, has an allusion to the body’s being the depository of the soul. ́̓Οστρακον properly signifies a shell, (of which material, probably, the primitive vessels were formed,) and, 2dly, a vessel, of baked earth. And as that is proverbially brittle, ὀστράκιος denoted weak, fragile, both in a natural and a metaphorical sense; and therefore was very applicable to the human body, both as frail, and as mean.” — Bloomfield. — Ed. and then farther, he subjoins, that the power of God is, by that means, the more illustrated, and is the better seen. “Those, who allege the contemptible appearance of my person, with the view of detracting from the dignity of my ministry, are unfair and unreasonable judges, for a treasure is not the less valuable, that the vessel, in which it is deposited, is not a precious one. Nay more, it is usual for great treasures to be laid up in earthen pots. Farther, they do not consider, that it is ordered by the special Providence of God, that there should be in ministers no appearance of excellence, lest any thing of distinction should throw the power of God into the shade. As, therefore, the abasement of ministers, and the outward contempt of their persons give occasion for glory accruing to God, that man acts a wicked part, who measures the dignity of the gospel by the person of the minister.”
Paul, however, does not speak merely of the universal condition of mankind, but of his own condition in particular. It is true, indeed, that all mortal men are earthen vessels Hence, let the most eminent of them all be selected, and let him be one that is adorned to admiration with all ornaments of birth, intellect, and fortune, 466466 “De tous ornamens, de race, d’esprit, de richesses, et toutes autres choses semblables;” — “With all ornaments of birth, intellect, riches, and all other things of a like nature.” still, if he be a minister of the gospel, he will be a mean and merely earthen depository of an inestimable treasure Paul, however, has in view himself, and others like himself, his associates, who were held in contempt, because they had nothing of show.