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9but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.


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9. He said to me. It is not certain, whether he had this answer by a special revelation, and it is not of great importance. 910910     Et aussi il n’est pas fort requis de la scauoir;” — “And besides, it is not greatly requisite to know it.” For God answers us, when he strengthens us inwardly by his Spirit, and sustains us by his consolation, so that we do not give up hope and patience. He bids Paul be satisfied with his grace, and, in the mean time, not refuse chastisement. Hence we must bear up under evil of ever so long continuance, because we are admirably well dealt with, when we have the grace of God to be our support. 911911     Et c’est assez;” — “And that is enough.” The term grace, here, does not mean here, as it does elsewhere, the favor of God, but by metonymy, the aid of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us from the unmerited favor of God; and it ought to be sufficient for the pious, inasmuch as it is a sure and invincible support against their ever giving way.

For my strength Our weakness may seem, as if it were an obstacle in the way of God’s perfecting his strength in us. Paul does not merely deny this, but maintains, on the other hand, that it is only when our weakness becomes apparent, that God’s strength is duly perfected. To understand this more distinctly, we must distinguish between God’s strength and ours; for the word my is emphatic. “My strength,” says the Lord, (meaning that which helps man’s need — which raises them up when they have fallen down, and refreshes them when they are faint,) “is perfected in the weakness of men;that is, it has occasion to exert itself, when the weakness of men becomes manifest; and not only so, but it is more distinctly recognized as it ought to be. For the word perfected has a reference to the perception and apprehension of mankind, because it is not perfected unless it openly shines forth, so as to receive its due praise. For mankind have no taste of it, unless they are first convinced of the need of it, and they quickly lose sight of its value, if they are not constantly exercised with a feeling of their own weakness.

Most gladly, therefore This latter statement confirms the exposition that I have given. I will glory, says he, in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me 912912     The original word, ἐπισκηνώσὟ, properly means, to pitch a tent, or tabernacle, upon. Raphelius quotes two passages from Polybius, in which the verb is used as meaning — to enter into, and dwell in. Τὸ δὲ τελευτασῖον ἐπισωκηνώσαντες ἐπὶ τὰς οἰκίας “and at last, having entered in, and taken possession of the houses.” Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ταῖς οἰκίαις ἐπισκηνώσαντες κατεῖχον τὴν πόλιν — “And after these things, having entered into the houses, they took possession of the city.” — CEcumenius, cited by Parkhurst, considers ἐπίσκηνώσὟ, as employed by the Apostle here, to be equivalent to ὁλη ἐν ὁλω κατοικήσὟ — “may entirely take possession of,me, and dwell in me.” — It is admirably well observed by Dr. Adam Clarke, that “the same Eternal WORD,” (of whom it is said in John 1:14, that he “was made flesh, and made his tabernacle among us, (ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν,) full of grace and truth,”) “promised to make his tabernacle with the Apostle, and gives him a proof that he was still the samefull of grace and truth, by assuring him that his grace should be sufficient for him.” — Ed. Hence, the man that is ashamed of this glorying, shuts the door upon Christ’s grace, and, in a manner, puts it away from him. For then do we make room for Christ’s grace, when in true humility of mind, we feel and confess our own weakness. The valleys are watered with rain to make them fruitful, while in the mean time, the high summits of the lofty mountains remain dry. 913913     Sees et steriles;” — “Dry and barren.” Let that man, therefore, become a valley, who is desirous to receive the heavenly rain of God’s spiritual grace. 914914     Much in accordance with this beautiful sentiment is Bunyan’s description of the “Valley of Humiliation,” in the second part of his “Pilgrim’s Progress.” “It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts. It is fat ground, and, as you see, consisteth much in meadows; and if a man was to come here in the summer-time, as we do now, if he knew not any thing before thereof, and if he also delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might see that which would be delightful to him.
   ‘Behold how green this valley is! also how beautiful with lilies!’
(Song of Solomon 2:1.)

   I have known many labouring men that have got good estates in this Valley of Humiliation. (1 Peter 5:5.) ‘For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.’ (James 4:6.) For indeed it is a very fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls.” — Bunyan’s Allegorical Works, (Glasgow, 1843,) p. 164. — Ed.

He adds most gladly, to show that he is influenced by such an eager desire for the grace of Christ, that he refuses nothing for the sake of obtaining it. For we see very many yielding, indeed, submission to God, as being afraid of incurring sacrilege in coveting his glory, but, at the same time, not without reluctance, or at least, less cheerfully than were becoming. 915915     “Ce n’est point si nayfuement et franchement qu’il faloit;” — “It is not so ingenuously and frankly, as it ought to be.”

10. I take pleasure in infirmities There can be no doubt, that he employs the term weakness in different senses; for he formerly applied this name to the punctures that he experienced in the flesh. He now employs it to denote those external qualities, which occasion contempt in the view of the world. Having spoken, however, in a general way, of infirmities of every kind, he now returns to that particular description of them, that had given occasion for his turning aside into this general discourse. Let us take notice, then, that infirmity is a general term, and that under it is comprehended the weakness of our nature, as well as all tokens of abasement. Now the point in question was Paul’s outward abasement. He proceeded farther, for the purpose of showing, that the Lord humbled him in every way, that, in his defects, the glory of God might shine forth the more resplendently, which is, in a manner, concealed and buried, when a man is in an elevated position. He now again returns to speak of his excellences, which, at the same time, made him contemptible in public view, instead of procuring for him esteem and commendation.

For when I am weak, that is — “The more deficiency there is in me, so much the more liberally does the Lord, from his strength, supply me with whatever he sees to be needful for me.” For the fortitude of philosophers is nothing else than contumacy, or rather a mad enthusiasm, such as fanatics are accustomed to have. “If a man is desirous to be truly strong, let him not refuse to be at the same time weak Let him,” I say, “be weak in himself that he may be strong in the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:10.) Should any one object, that Paul speaks here, not of a failure of strength, but of poverty, and other afflictions, I answer, that all these things are exercises for discovering to us our own weakness; for if God had not exercised Paul with such trials, he would never have perceived so clearly his weakness. Hence, he has in view not merely poverty, and hardships of every kind, but also those effects that arise from them, as, for example, a feeling of our own weakness, self-distrust, and humility.




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