2 Corinthians 10:1
Now by the mildness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am humble when face to face with you, but bold when away.
Sermons
The Apostle's VindicationF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 10:1
The Gentleness of ChristW. Clarkson, B. A.2 Corinthians 10:1
The Gentleness of GodH. W. Beecher.2 Corinthians 10:1
The Meekness and Gentleness of ChristW. Braden.2 Corinthians 10:1
The Meekness and Gentleness of ChristE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 10:1
The Meekness and Gentleness of ChristR. Tuck 2 Corinthians 10:1
The Meekness and Gentleness of Christ Recommended to the Imitation of the YoungH. Belfrage.2 Corinthians 10:1
The Tenderness of ChristD. Moore, M. A.2 Corinthians 10:1
Change in the Epistle; Spirit of His DefenseC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 10:1-7
No one can fail to notice the change in the tone of the Epistle which appears in this chapter. Every thoughtful reader of St. Paul knows how abrupt his transitions frequently are, and how rapidly he digresses from his main point to something incidental to his topic. His mental associations are governed by two distinct laws - first, by ideas exciting feelings which lead him to diverge from his main line; and next, by emotions arising from some occult source that vary his action of intellect. In this instance there may have been a pause in writing after he had finished the subject of the collection. Naturally a reaction would set in. One of his excitable temperament could not have been relieved of oppressive solicitude, as he had been by the return of Titus, nor given such an expression to his joy as we have in ch. 8. and 9. without subsequent exhaustion of nervous energy. If, meantime, news came to him of the renewal of Judaizing zeal at Corinth, and of some sudden accession of strength to the party so inflamed against him, we can readily see why his indignation should be aroused. To have his hopes dashed in this way, in such a conjuncture and by such unscrupulous opponents, would put a terrible strain on a nature organized as sensitively as his, all the more so since a new era seemed about dawning in the history of the gospel. Europe and Asia appeared ready to join hands most heartily in the work of evangelizing the world, and just at this most auspicious period, to witness a fresh outbreak of discord was the severest of trials that could have befallen him. Whatever the cause, it was a sad thing for this noble spirit to be sorely chafed in an hour when it was rallying from an unusual depression and girding itself for special endeavours to cement the Asiatic and European Churches closer together. Here, in the very heart of Achaia, were agents from the Judaizing party at Jerusalem, who appear to have become more jealous than ever of his growing influence, and were heated to fiercer hostility against the apostle because of the recent triumph of his authority. While he was exerting every nerve to help the Church in Jerusalem, men from that very community were working in Corinth to disparage his ministry and undermine his personal character. It was shocking ingratitude. In itself it was rankling jealousy; in its connections, base partisanship. At that moment the interests of Christianity hung on the precise work he was doing. The liberal gospel he was preaching, the gospel of free grace and of equal honour and privilege to Jew and Gentile, was attesting its Divine excellence in the "exceeding grace of God" manifested by means of the abounding charity of Macedonia and Achaia. And yet all the promise and hope of this inspiring movement were thrown into the utmost peril by these fanatical zealots. Had he not felt this wrong keenly and resisted it courageously, he would have shown a want of manliness; for no character can have force that lacks indignation when its own integrity and a great cause identified with that integrity are ruthlessly assailed. It is under such circumstances that the true man appears in the way his sense of injustice operates. Quite as plainly the wise leader will display himself in the perception of what the emergency requires and in the decision with which his measures are executed. Now, the apostle is before us again as a study in this particular aspect of his character and ministry. Much as we have learned of him, something remains to be seen, and we may feel assured that the additional insight will amply reward us. The first utterance of his soul enkindles our admiration. Wronged, vilified, St. Paul appeals to the Corinthians "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." It is not "we" but "I Paul," for he was the person singled out for these malicious attacks and he would reply from his own heart. It is not that sort of "meekness and gentleness" which craft and conventionality often assume to hide their art and malignity. It is the spirit of Christ, the meekness which acts by turning inwardly upon the mind and soothing its faculties, and the gentleness that exhibits itself in outward tranquillity. St. Paul cannot speak of these except as Christ's virtues. They are his; they have his life; they take their power and beauty from him. "I Paul myself" - his individuality emphasized in an unusual manner - "beseech you," at the instant when the lion was more likely to show itself in human nature than the lamb, that it may not be necessary for me to exercise my authority over these offenders. If, as my enemies say, I am base in presence among you and bold only when absent, I pray you not to let this matter go to such an extremity that I shall have to use "the rod." When one's courage has been challenged and his heroism derided, it is extremely hard for a brave man like St. Paul to forbear. But had he not said, "Love suffereth long and is kind"? Words were things to him and here was the proof of love, side by side with the irony that was not to be concealed. Would he announce an inflexible determination to punish? No; further discipline might be needful for him, further forbearance might be desirable in the case of his assailants; and all he ventured to affirm was, "I think to be bold against some." Who were the "some"? Evidently those who impeached his motives and openly reviled his ministry. How does he describe them? By the thoughts they entertained of him as an apostle. "They think of us as if we walked according to the flesh," referring to a course of conduct "determined by the fear of men or the desire of pleasing men, and hence a personal bearing disgraced by cowardice or servility. The human nature referred to was therefore one enfeebled, not merely from the want of Divine support, but from sin" (Lange's 'Commentary'). Such an opinion respecting the apostle indicates clearly enough the evil source whence it sprang. It happens often that the judgments we pronounce on others are most true in application to ourselves, and, unawares, we have disclosed what our own hearts are in estimating outside parties. A politician who is always charging other politicians with being demagogues is generally a demagogue himself, and the man who never hesitates to apply the epithet of a liar to others is quite sure to be a liar himself. But how does St. Paul meet the charge of being carnally minded in his high office? "Though we walk in the flesh [live a corporeal life], we do not war after the flesh," or "according to the flesh," the contrast being in the words "in" and "according." And forthwith he proceeds to show the difference between walking in the flesh and warring according to the flesh. A warrior he is, an open and avowed warrior - a warrior who was to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; a warrior too who would punish these Judaizers if they continued their disorganizing work; but a prudent and considerate warrior, deferring the avenging blow till "I am assured of your submission" (Stanley) "that I may not confound the innocent with the guilty, the dupes with the deceivers." What kind of a preacher he was he had shown long before; what kind of an apostle he was among apostles as to independence, self-support, and resignation of official rights in earthly matters, he had also shown; further yet, what kind of a sufferer and martyr he was had been portrayed. Step by step he had gone on with this faithful unfolding of himself, giving the most unique spiritual biography in the world of literature, and that too on no preconceived plan. How many aspects of his character had been sketched! The man as ambassador, representing the majesty of a glorified King, and labouring to reconcile a world to his Divine sceptre; the man as coworker with all the blessed ministries of earth and heaven; the man as philanthropist sharing the poverty of his countrymen in a far off city; and now the man as warrior, leading on his hosts to battle against alien spirits; - what a wide activity, how minute, how full, how varied, how comprehensive. At no point does this personal narrative draw its interest from self alone. Self is always subordinate. The biography interweaves with a history that infinitely transcends all private fortunes and all earthly affairs, and is nothing less than the history of providence in the development of Christian doctrine coincident with the work of the Holy Ghost in glorifying the ascended Christ of the Father. "Casting down imaginations." The reference is to reasoning or disputings of the natural man in the pride of his intellectual power. Yet they are imaginations, the products of the imaging faculty, the fond conceits of creative ingenuity. All these were religious beliefs or connected in some way with them, so that what the apostle said at Athens was true elsewhere: "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious." Men who held these beliefs were earnest supporters of them and were always ready to defend their tenets. No matter in what province or city he preached the gospel, these disputants appeared. It was a battle on all occasions, and hence a battle figure, "casting down," or the destruction of bulwarks. Philosophy, art, manufactures, trade, husbandry, seamanship, military life, domestic life, statesmanship, were all intimately associated with these religious beliefs. Paganism occupied the ground. Or, if Judaism had found lodgment over the empire at every prominent centre of industry, it was the Judaism that had crucified Jesus of Nazareth. So then there was battle everywhere. The "wisdom of the world" and of "the princes of the world," backed by social influence and civil authority, was arrayed against the gospel. In the land of its birth, Christianity had nothing to show but a few Galilean fishermen, with a community of poor disciples, and behind these a malefactor's cross. In the lands to which it came on its mission of grace, it summoned men to repent of sin, to practise self-denial, to become new creatures, to abandon idolatries that were in league with lust and cruelty, and, in lieu thereof, accept a faith which demanded a pure heart and a holy morality. It could only make its way by "casting down imaginations," by telling men that they were deluded by sophistries, and further by destroying "every high thing" that exalted itself against the knowledge of God communicated to man by the revelation of the gospel. No compromise could be allowed; every thought was to be brought into" captivity" to the "obedience of Christ." What captivity meant they fully understood. It was a military word, and he uses such terms that they might have clear and vivid ideas of Christianity as a war, and nothing less than an exterminating war, on whatever stood opposed "to the obedience of Christ." The "weapons" he used were not "carnal." All the world knew his weapons. He made no disguise of them. Boldly, constantly, in every place, he proclaimed Christ, the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, nor had a mob occurred, nor had perils gathered about him, nor had Roman officers interfered for his protection, except on the single issue of preaching Christ crucified. No heathen would charge him with using carnal weapons. Philosophers of Athens, inhabitants of Lycaonia, Demetrius and his workmen at Ephesus, would make no such accusation against his ministry. Only the Judaizers had done this thing. Let them understand that these weapons were "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." Neither a false Judaism nor a colossal idolatry could offer any effective resistance to the gospel. Let these Judaizers know that his weapons were "mighty through God," and that in due time he would show "a readiness to revenge all disobedience." And let the Corinthian Church look deeper than the "outward appearance." To construe his manner of "meekness and gentleness" into imbecility and cowardice was not truth, but falsehood. And whence came this evil way of judging? Not from themselves, but from some wrong teacher who professed to have external advantages in favour of his teaching. Let that conceited man know that, if he is Christ's, so also am I. - L.







Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.
These words recognise Christ's character as an accepted standard of appeal among the Corinthians. To ourselves such an appeal would not be strange. But does it not strike you as remarkable here? For remember that only a few years before this the oldest of the converts were gross idolaters. The standard of appeal has not altered. The preacher refers back to Christ as the source of all authority and influence. As Christians, if we are in perplexity, we ask the question, What did Christ do? and when we discover that, our course is clear. There is to us no higher joy than to please Him. But notice what it is in Christ to which Paul refers.

I. THE MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF CHRIST.

1. Men had been striving to overturn Paul's authority and destroy his influence. This was enough to excite the indignation of any true-hearted man, and no wonder if he had vindicated his character in stinging words. But he will not do this. He will conquer them by the gentleness which Christ ever manifested to those who had gone astray. Most thoroughly had he entered into Christ's spirit. He can never forget how tenderly and patiently the Saviour had treated him. Years after, when writing to one who had never tried the patience of Christ as he had done, he said: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord" (1 Timothy 1:12-16). Paul had experienced the power of Christ's meekness and gentleness, and he was anxious that others should know it too.

2. Let us turn to the, life of Christ, and see how full it is of this Divine virtue. John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" and, though there is an idea of sacrifice, what is more meek and gentle than a lamb? He Himself declared, "I am meek and lowly of heart." Think of all He suffered, and the manner in which He suffered it. He came into the world eager to bless and save it, but "He was despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." And yet in no instance was He ruffled by the injuries wrought on Himself. When the helpless and the poor were oppressed, He stood ready to defend them. How He scathed the Pharisees! Yet even in their case tenderness and love were in His heart, for immediately after His tremendous exposure He breaks out in a wail like a mother for the child of her love, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets," etc. And to the very close of life He remains the same. Isaiah (Isaiah 53:7) and Peter (1 Peter 2:23) — the one in prophecy, the other in history — unite in bearing testimony to the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

II. THE GENTLENESS OF CHRIST WAS NOT AN AMIABLE WEAKNESS. There are many who obtain credit for this virtue who have no manner of right to it. They are patient if any one wrongs them, and seem the incarnation of good humour. Often this disposition is simply a consciousness of helplessness or indifference. But Christ was gentle because He was strong. It was an awful power that Christ carried with Him; and were it not that we know how gentleness clothed that power, we should be ready to wonder that men did not shrink in fear before His presence. He had power enough to drive devils into the deep, yet gentleness to gather children in His arms.

III. JESUS WAS GENTLE, BUT IT WAS NOT BECAUSE HE WAS IGNORANT OF MEN'S CHARACTERS. We may often act towards others in kindness and forbearance because we do not know them. But Christ knew what was in men; He was never deceived; and this was one of the reasons of His gentleness. He saw good as well as bad. He understood all the difficulties that beset men. Allowances were to be made, and He made them; circumstances were to be considered, and He considered them. We are hasty in judgment, because we are so ignorant of what passes within the hearts of those we condemn. Christ was full of forbearance, because He knew the whole.

IV. JESUS WAS GENTLE, BUT NOT BECAUSE HE WAS INDIFFERENT TO JUSTICE AND PURITY. We often overlook sin, because we do not much care whether things are right or wrong. A child does wrong; a friend in amiable pity says, Oh, let him go this time." The friend cares very little about justice itself or the law of the household. When a criminal is taken, there are plenty of weak people who will urge you to let him go. They get credit for gentleness. But then, indeed, some people are always ready to forgive any wrong that has been done against some one else. People are careless because they have no hatred of what is evil in their own natures. They have sinned so much themselves that they readily condone sin in others. But all this is not true gentleness; it is indifference to righteousness. Now Christ's gentleness was not of this nature. He did care what men did. He was perfectly pure, and every sin wounded His heart like a poisoned arrow. He loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. He was as just as He was loving; and it was to vindicate Divine justice that He came to Calvary. He died the just for the unjust.

V. THIS MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS IS THE WEAPON BY WHICH CHRIST CONQUERS US. It is the power of His love that subdues human hearts. He will bear with men until His very patience and gentleness shall make them ashamed of their sin. What argument can be more powerful than this?

(W. Braden.)

When this pathetic address is considered in connection with the circumstances that led to it, the character of Paul appears in a very interesting light. In writing to a church where party spirit was raging, the apostle expresses himself in a manner prudent and mild, yet firm and dignified. The meekness of Christ is a phrase expressive of the calmness and patience, the forbearance and humility by which He was distinguished.

I. IN WHAT WAY MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS SHOULD OPERATE IN THE YOUNG IS THE FIRST TOPIC THAT CLAIMS OUR ATTENTION.

1. Meekness and gentleness appear in modest and unassuming manners. Meekness and gentleness are directly opposed to the love of display, and this desire to have the pre-eminence. They delight in the shade of retirement, and shrink from the glare of public observation.

2. Meekness and gentleness appear in calmness and forbearance under provocations and injuries. The power of meekness and gentleness is sometimes affectingly manifested under domestic evils.

3. Meekness and gentleness appear in courtesy and kindness in the intercourse of life.

4. Meekness and gentleness, prompt to lenity and indulgence to others, and to abstinence from all measures of rigour and severity. The spirit of meekness and gentleness will preserve us from rigour and severity in judging of the actions of others.

5. Meekness and gentleness appear in patient acquiescence under the afflictions of life.

II. I proceed now to show THAT THE MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF CHRIST PRESENT THE MOST PERSUASIVE MOTIVES TO THE CULTIVATION OF THESE EXCELLENCES.

1. Meekness and gentleness appear in the character of our Lord in the most winning form. If your hearts are at all open to the influence of good example, they must be gained now.

2. It is the meekness and gentleness of One whom you are under the strongest obligations to imitate. Reflect on what He endured for you.

3. Consider how much His honour and that of His religion are concerned in the regard which you pay to the meekness and gentleness of Christ. You wish the world to think well of the spirit of your Master, but you must know that they will judge of it from you.

4. Consider how much Christ is related to you. To beseech a child, by the virtues of his parents, will probably guard him against the opposite vices, and lead him to act as they did.

5. Consider the glory of His person and character. It is not the meekness and gentleness of one whose station is low, or whose influence is insignificant; nor are these solitary graces in His character.

6. It is the meekness and the gentleness of one who has connected the most important consequences with our imitation or neglect of his example: "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of Hi" (Romans 8:9). I conclude by recommending the imitation of this meekness and gentleness to other classes of persons. Ye who are old, I beseech you by the meekness and the gentleness of Christ, not to aggravate the sorrows of your evil days by peevishness and discontent. Ye parents, I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, to beware of "provoking your children to wrath," and to endeavour to persuade before you attempt to compel. Masters, do your duty to your servants, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master is in heaven, and that there is no respect of persons with Him. Ye who are at variance, I beseech you by these virtues of Christ to leave off contention. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). Ye members of churches, follow after the things that make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another. Let political parties cease to distract the nation by their broils and their scurrilities; and let them in the spirit of the gospel direct their efforts to promote peace on earth and good-will among men.

(H. Belfrage.)

I. GENTLENESS IS THE METHOD BY WHICH STRENGTH MANIFESTS ITSELF.

1. The greater the power of the being, the greater will be the marvel and the delicacy of gentleness. In a woman we expect gentleness. But in a warrior it creates an admiration that it does not in woman.

2. It is wonderful, too, in proportion to the provocation to contrary feelings. That all rude and hateful things should find themselves the subjects of gentleness, this is surprising.

3. It is likewise wonderful in proportion to the moral sensibility and discriminating purity of the mind which exercises it. Gentleness, springing from easy good-nature, which will not take the trouble to vindicate justice and right, will not command even respect.

II. CONSIDER, THEN, WITH THESE INTERPRETING REMARKS, WHAT MUST BE THE NATURE OF GENTLENESS IN GOD.

1. He dwells alone from eternity to eternity, because there is none other that can be of His grandeur of being. The whole earth is said to be but a drop of the bucket before Him. And that such a One, living in such a wise, should deal-with His erring children with gentleness is wonderful and sublime!

2. Consider also His moral purity and His love of purity, and His abhorrence of evil. That such a Being should carry Himself with gentleness toward those who have forfeited all claim to mercy and gentleness — this is wonderful! The life of every individual is a long period of moral delinquency. No one who has not had the experience of a parent can have any adequate conception of the patience and gentleness exercised by a mother in rearing her child. True mothers are only God's miniatures in this world. How great will be the disclosure which shall be made when, in the great day, Christ shall enrol from the archives of eternity the history of each individual soul. It will be seen then how much patience must have been exercised by the Divine Being in rearing a single one of His creatures. Now consider national life. Judge from your own feelings how God, with His infinite sensibility, must feel when He sees men rising up against their fellow-men, waging wars and devastating society by every infernal mischief that their ingenuity can invent The Bible says that God is past finding out; not merely His physical power, but His disposition — His moral nature. If God cared for the misconduct of men no more than we do for the fiery strifes of an ant-hill, there would be no foundation for such a conception of Divine gentleness and Divine goodness. Evil is eternal in the sight of God, unless it be checked and cured. Sin, like a poisonous weed, re-sows itself, and becomes eternal by reproduction. Now God looks upon the human race in the light of these truths. And tell me what other attribute of God, what other influence of His character, is so sublime as this — His gentleness?

III. NOW, WHILE THESE STATEMENTS ARE FRESH IN YOUR MIND, I DESIRE TO PRESENT TO YOU A CLEAR CONCEPTION OF GOD AS YOUR PERSONAL GOD. He is not a Being that dwells in the inner recesses of the eternal world, inaccessible, incomprehensible. Men never find Christ, but are always found of Him. He goes forth to seek and to save the lost. It is the abounding love of His heart that draws us up toward Him. "We love Him because He first loved us." It is this willing, winning, pleading Christ, who wields all the grandeur of justice and all the authority of universal empire with such sweet gentleness that in all the earth there is none like unto Him, that I set before you as your personal friend. He does not set His holiness and His hatred of sin like mountains over which you may not climb. He does not hedge Himself about by the dignities and superiorities of Divinity. All the way from His throne to your heart is sloped; and hope, and love, and patience, and meekness, and long-suffering, and kindness, and wonderful mercies, and gentleness, as so many banded helping angels wait to take you by the hand and lead you up to God. And I beseech you by His gentleness, too, that you fear Him no longer; that you be no longer indifferent to Him; that you wound Him by your unbelief no more, but that now and henceforth you follow Him — "for there is none other name under heaven among men whereby we must be saved." Conclusion: I hold up before you that God who loves the sinner and abhors sin; who loves goodness with infinite fervour, and breathes it upon those who put their trust in Him. And remember that it is this God who yet declares that He will at last by no means clear the guilty! Make your peace with Him now, or abandon all hopes of peace. Be not discouraged because you are sinful. It is the very office of His love to heal your sins. Who would need a physician if he might not come to his bedside until after the sickness was healed? What use of schoolmaster if one may not go to school till his education be complete?

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. IN CONNECTION WITH WHAT HAS BEEN REVEALED TO US CONCERNING HIS MISSION AND LIFE.

1. It harmonises with the prophetic intimations.(1) See this in the very "titles" bestowed upon Him. Lest the spirit should fail at the thought of "the Ancient of Days," the "Everlasting Father," "the Mighty God," we are encouraged to look at Him as "the seed of the woman," the "consolation of Israel," "the Prince of peace." Though He is the "plant of Renown," He grows up a "tender plant." Though He is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah," He is led as a "lamb to the slaughter." And though speaking to us out of the "bush burning with fire," it is a fire which only awes by its brightness, but consumes not a leaf with its flame.(2) Still more does this come out in prophecies bearing more directly on His work and office (Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 42:1; cf. Matthew 12:18).

2. And such as prophecy declared Christ should be, such, in. all the actings of His earthly life, do we find He was. With His own disciples He had to bear much. Yet rarely does His language rise to harsh reproof — scarcely even to upbraiding. It is rather that of a subdued, softened, melancholy tenderness. And was there less of tenderness in His dealings with those who were not disciples? with the penitent woman in Simon's house? with the woman of Samaria? etc.

3. This tenderness of the Saviour's character has accompanied Him into heaven, arching as with the mild splendours of a rainbow the throne of His mediation, and giving a softened light and lustre to the moral administration of God (Revelation 1-3).

II. IN ITS BEARING ON SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. How should we be comforted by it under early convictions of sin, and doubts of the Divine forgiveness? None should despair whilst in the midst of the throne there stands the gentle Lamb of God whose blood cleanseth from all sin.

2. It should be very comforting when cast down by the weakness of our faith. The same weakness has been exhibited by our brethren in the world, but a gracious Saviour allowed for, pardoned them. Look at that agonised father as he brings his demoniac son to the Saviour. Weak faith, mixed faith, little faith — better this than none at all: "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief." Or see again how tenderly the Master deals with His fearful disciples in the storm. And therefore to all who are suffering from this infirmity, we say, "Be not afraid, only believe."

3. Consider it as it bears upon our slow progress in the Divine life — our coldness in sacred exercises, our fluctuations and decays of religious feeling. Go to Gethsemane, and look on the disciples sleeping when they ought to have been praying; but the compassionate Saviour can excuse all. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

4. See the Christian under the pressure of outward adversity. More than thirty years did our Divine Master spend in that school. And we love to think of Jesus as "touched with a feeling of our infirmities" now that He reigns in heaven.

5. See the Christian again under the prevalence of temptation, and what a strong refuge has he in the Saviour's tenderness: "For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted." Yes, "tempted in all points like as we are." And now, in heaven, He brings to bear on His work for us all the sacred memories and experiences of His earthly state.

6. Behold the Christian in that hour of nature's greatest weakness, when he sees opening before him the doors of the unseen world. Then does he feel the power of the Saviour's tenderness most; for it is His special office "to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

(D. Moore, M. A.)

Gentleness is not so much the essence of goodness as it is its exquisite setting; it is a kind way of being good. It is not the tree itself, but the blossom upon its boughs; but the tree of which it is the blossom is the tree of life. There is none so gentle as "the Lord God omnipotent." We see and feel His gentleness in the way in which He is daily conferring His bounties.

I. THE WAY IN WHICH HE EXERCISED HIS POWER. We are almost afraid of power in the possession of man. When we think of the Pharaohs, the Herods, the Caesars, the Napoleons, we shrink from the committal of power to any human arm. He laid a gentle hand upon the sick; He spoke gentle words to those who appealed for His succour, quietly and graciously.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH HE TAUGHT DIVINE TRUTH. Men of brilliant powers often like to flash them upon society; genius often drizzles and bewilders. But the Great Teacher, not neglecting the opportunity that offered, went quietly and meekly to His work of utterance, He chose the humble wayside, the upper room, the shaded garden, where He could teach His disciples.

III. THE WAY IN WHICH HE TREATED ERROR AND FAILURE AND SIN.

1. Gently He excused the extravagant zeal of one of His disciples, discovering for her a justification she would never have found for herself. "She has done it for My burial" (Matthew 26:12).

2. Gently He bore with infirm discipleship; correcting their misunderstanding, enlightening them in their darkness, and on one occasion most graciously accepting their intended but halting service (Matthew 26:41).

3. Gently He rebuked and restored failure and fall (Luke 22:61; John 21:15-19).

4. Gently He dealt with those who rejected Him.

5. Gently He dealt with those whom all others spurned; admitting the publican into His kingdom.

6. Gently He bore Himself at the last sad scenes. We may beseech men by the gentleness of Christ —(1) To have their own character and conduct clothed with this grace; that themselves and their life may be beautiful and attractive like their Lord's.(2) To yield their hearts to Him who is the rightful object not only of high regard, but of a true affection; this gentle Lord of truth and grace is one whom we can love and therefore serve.(3) To shrink from the condemnation of Christ. We can afford to disregard the threatenings of the violent, but we may not despise the earnest warnings of the calm and true.

(W. Clarkson, B. A.)

The Epistle has until now been addressed to those who at least acknowledged the apostle's authority. But now we have St. Paul's reply to his enemies. Note —

I. THE IMPUGNERS OF HIS AUTHORITY.

1. We must distinguish these into two classes — the deceivers and the deceived; else we cannot understand the difference of tone, sometimes meek, and sometimes stern, which pervades the vindication; e.g., comp. ver. 2 with ver. 1. His enemies charged him with insincerity (2 Corinthians 1:12, 13, 18, 19); with being only powerful in writing (2 Corinthians 10:10); of mercenary motives; of a lack of apostolic gifts; and of not preaching the gospel. They charged him with artifice. His Christian prudence and charity were regarded as devices whereby he deceived his followers.

2. We must also bear in mind that the apostle had to deal with a strong party spirit (1 Corinthians 1:12), and of all these parties his chief difficulty lay with that which called itself Christ's.(1) Though these persons called themselves Christ's they are nevertheless blamed in the same list with others. And yet what could seem to be more right than for men to say, "We will bear no name but Christ's; we throw ourselves on Christ's own words; we throw aside all intellectual philosophy; we will have no servitude to ritualism"? Nevertheless, these persons were just as bigoted and as blameable as the others. They did not mean to say only, "We are Christ's," but also, "You are not Christ's." This is a feeling which is as much to be avoided now as then. Sectarianism falsifies the very principle of our religion, and therefore falsifies its forms. It falsifies the Lord's Prayer. It substitutes for "our Father," the Father of me, of my Church or party. It falsifies the creed: "I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord." It falsifies both the sacraments.(2) However Christian this expression may sound, the spirit which prompts it is wrong. This Christ-party separated themselves from God's order when they rejected the teaching of St. Paul and the apostles. For the phase of truth presented by St. Paul was just as necessary as that taught by Christ. Not that Christ did not teach all truth, but that the hidden meaning of His teaching was developed still further by the inspired apostles. We cannot, at this time, cut ourselves off from the teaching of eighteen centuries. We cannot do without the different phases of knowledge which God's various instruments have delivered to us. For God's system is mediatorial — that is, truth communicated to men through men.

II. His VINDICATION.

1. St. Paul based his authority on the power of meekness, and it was a spiritual power in respect of that meekness. The weapons of his warfare were not carnal.(1) This was one of the root principles of St. Paul's ministry. If he reproved, it was done in the spirit of meekness (Galatians 5:1); or if he defended his own authority, it was still with the same spirit (2 Corinthians 10:1). He closes his summary of the character of ministerial work by showing the need of a gentle spirit (2 Timothy 2:24-26).(2) Here, again, according to his custom, the apostle refers to the example of Christ. He vindicated his authority, because he had been meek, as Christ was meek. So it ever is: humility, after all, is the best defence. Do not let insult harden you, nor cruelty rob you of tenderness. You will conquer as Christ conquered, and bless as He blessed. But remember, fine words about gentleness, self-sacrifice, meekness, are worth very little. Would you believe in the Cross and its victory? then live in its spirit — act upon it.

2. St. Paul rested his authority not on carnal weapons, but on the spiritual power of truth. The strongholds which the apostle had to pull down were the old habits which still clung to the Christianised heathen. There was the pride of intellect in the arrogant Greek philosophers, the pride of the flesh in the Jewish love of signs, and most difficult of all — the pride of ignorance. For this work St. Paul's weapon was Truth, not authority, craft, or personal influence. He felt that truth must prevail. A grand, silent lesson for us now! when the noises of a hundred controversies stun the Church. Let us teach as Christ and His apostles taught. Force no one to God, but convince all by the might of truth. Should any of you have to bear attacks on your character, or life, or doctrine, defend yourself with meekness, or if defence should make matters worse, then commit yourself fully to the truth. Outpray, outpreach, outlive the calumny.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

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