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4who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

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Paul's Sufferings and Consolations. (a. d. 57.)

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;   4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.   5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.   6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

After the foregoing preface, the apostle begins with the narrative of God's goodness to him and his fellow-labourers in their manifold tribulations, which he speaks of by way of thanksgiving to God, and to advance the divine glory (v. 3-6); and it is fit that in all things, and in the first place, God be glorified. Observe,

I. The object of the apostle's thanksgiving, to whom he offers up blessing and praise, namely, the blessed God, who only is to be praised, whom he describes by several glorious and amiable titles. 1. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: ho Theos kai pater tou Kyriou hemon Iesou Christou. God is the Father of Christ's divine nature by eternal generation, of his human nature by miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin, and of Christ as God-man, and our Redeemer, by covenant-relation, and in and through him as Mediator our God and our Father, John xx. 17. In the Old Testament we often meet with this title, The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, to denote God's covenant-relation to them and their seed; and in the New Testament God is styled the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to denote his covenant-relation to the Mediator and his spiritual seed. Gal. iii. 16. 2. The Father of mercies. There is a multitude of tender mercies in God essentially, and all mercies are from God originally: mercy in his genuine offspring and his delight. He delighteth in mercy, Mic. vii. 18. 3. The God of all comfort; from his proceedeth the Comforter, John xv. 26. He giveth the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts, v. 22. All our comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him.

II. The reasons of the apostle's thanksgivings, which are these:—

1. The benefits that he himself and his companions had received from God; for God had comforted them in all their tribulations, v. 4. In the world they had trouble, but in Christ they had peace. The apostles met with many tribulations, but they found comfort in them all: their sufferings (which are called the sufferings of Christ, v. 5, because Christ sympathized with his members when suffering for his sake) did abound, but their consolation by Christ did abound also. Note, (1.) Then are we qualified to receive the comfort of God's mercies when we set ourselves to give him the glory of them. (2.) Then we speak best of God and his goodness when we speak from our own experience, and, in telling others, tell God also what he has done for our souls.

2. The advantage which others might receive; for God intended that they should be able to comfort others in trouble (v. 4), by communicating to them their experiences of the divine goodness and mercy; and the sufferings of good men have a tendency to this good end (v. 6) when they are endued with faith and patience. Note, (1.) What favours God bestows on us are intended not only to make us cheerful ourselves, but also that we may be useful to others. (2.) If we do imitate the faith and patience of good men in their afflictions, we may hope to partake of their consolations here and their salvation hereafter.