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he thought it needful solemnly to assert respecting what he had stated before, as well as in reference to this last declaration: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. He appealed to the Searcher of hearts for the truth of what he had stated. Yet he felt that it was not expedient for him to glory; he had been compelled to do it against his will, that he might uphold the authority which the Lord had given him for the edification and not for the destruction of His church and people.

We have seen the nature of the infirmities in which the apostle gloried. Let us now consider the reason why he gloried in these things. They are naturally the object of dread and aversion; and therefore he must have had some powerful reason for his conduct. It was in consequence of receiving an answer to his prayers from the Lord Jesus Christ, who said unto him, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.73 We learn here,

First, That the troubles and afflictions which came upon the apostle for Christ's sake, and which through his infirmity or weakness he was of himself unable to withstand or resist, led him to earnest prayer to the Lord Christ, and to an humble dependence upon His grace.

Secondly, They identified him with the cause of Christ.

Thirdly, They assured him that Divine aid would be granted in the time of his need. And he afterwards adds,

Fourthly, They led him to look beyond this present life, to rest and peace in the eternal kingdom and glory of God.

Let us briefly advert to each of these topics. First, The apostle's sufferings led him to earnest prayer to Christ, and an humble dependence upon His grace. He felt as others do the afflictions which he was called to endure. Troubles gave him pain and uneasiness; he would gladly have avoided them; but instead of giving up the cause in which he was engaged in disgust and vexation, he carried all his troubles to the throne of grace, he besought the Lord Christ to relieve him; and he did this, not in a light and careless manner, but earnestly and repeatedly, as one who was anxious to be delivered from the affliction which disquieted his mind, and who knew that the Person to whom he applied was able to afford him the desired relief. If our troubles lead us to earnest and reiterated prayer, they will prove to us blessings in disguise.

The answer, however, which the apostle received to his earnest prayer was, not that his troubles should cease, not that the people of the world should be reconciled to him, and applaud him for his zeal in his Master's cause, instead of persecuting him; but that Divine grace would

bear him up against the opposition of the ungodly world, and would support him under his trials, and enable him to triumph over all the power of the enemy. This is recorded for our instruction, that we may be satisfied, that if our trials lead us to the throne of grace, earnestly to seek help from God in affliction, His overruling providence will order all things for us, if not in the manner that we would wish, yet in the way that will be most for His glory and for our real good. Let us then cast all our care upon God, and be persuaded that He careth for us, and will bless us while we place all our dependence upon His grace, so that we shall have reason to say that He hath done all things well. The apostle learnt,

Secondly, That his afflictions identified him with the cause of Christ; since it was for Christ's sake that he suffered reproach and persecution. In reference to this he said, I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. When such was his benevolent design in preaching the gospel to his fellow-sinners, how remarkable was it, that he should suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds,75 for his zeal and his disinterested labours. But he had counted the cost, and looked for no other recompense from the children of this world. He reminded the

74 Mark vii. 37.

75 2 Tim. ii. 9, 10.

Thessalonians, Verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass, and ye know.76 But when he looked forward to the bonds and afflictions which awaited him, he boldly declared, None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." The cross of Christ, it has been said, is the reward of His faithful followers. Happy are they who bear it in humility, after their Lord and Master. He has said to them, Rejoice ye in that day, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.78

As the apostle's afflictions led him to earnest prayer, and as, in consequence, a gracious promise was given him of Divine aid; so,

Thirdly, They brought an assurance to his mind, that as he was identified by them with the cause of Christ, Divine aid would be vouchsafed to him in the time of need. Having this confidence, instead of being discouraged by his own. weakness, he looked beyond the insufficiency of human instruments, and the powerful opposition of the god of this world," Satan, and the ungodly, the servants of the prince of darkness, to the all-sufficiency of Divine power to overcome

76 1 Thess. iii. 4. 77 Acts xx. 24. 78 Matt. v. 12. 79 2 Cor. iv. 4.

every obstacle, and to accomplish the purposes of His grace. The more he felt his own weakness, the more earnestly he sought help from God, or that the power of Christ might rest upon him; that he might be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.80 That Christ might be glorified by his instrumentality was all he desired. Thus with regard to the success of his ministry, he gloried in his infirmities, or in his weakness, because the Divine power was displayed in making use of so feeble an instrument to promote the glory of God; and he was kept from ascribing his success in any measure to himself, and all the praise was given to God, to whom it was due. He was not discouraged on account of his own insufficiency for the work assigned to him, nor was he offended because of the unworthy treatment he received while he was employed in promoting the cause of God in the world; though he had much more reason to complain than any other person, and to be displeased with the offence of the cross than others had. But instead of complaint and indignation, he was satisfied that it was enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his lord,81 he looked for no other treatment from the world than Christ had received. But the sufferings of this present time led him,

80 Ephesians vi. 10.

81 Matt. x. 25.

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