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brought to cry out with the jailor, "What "fhall I do to be faved?" you would find neither leifure nor inclination to afk these difquieting anxious queftions, "What fhall "I eat? and what fhall I drink? and where"withal fhall I be clothed ?" All these would be fwallowed up in your concern for "the one thing needful." And give me leave to add, that when this becomes your care, I shall then be at full liberty to invite you to caft it upon God; nay, I fhall be able to affure you, that he will not only accept the charge, but likewife give you what you care for, even a complete and everlasting falvation. O then "feek the Lord while he is to be. "found; call upon him while he is near."

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MAY God determine and enable you to take this courfe, and make your worldly cares the means of leading your hearts beyond and above this world, to seek rest and happiness in himself alone. Amen.

SER

422

ON XVII.

SERMON

2 CORINTHIANS xii. 9.

He faid unto me, My grace is fufficient for thee.

IN

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N the foregoing verfes of this chapter, re the Apostle relates an extraordinary revelation he had been favoured with, above fourteen years before the date of this epiftle. He informs us, that " he was caught up into paradife," or "the third heaven, (whether "in the body, or out of the body, he could "not tell), where he heard unspeakable "words, which it is not lawful," or poffible," for a man to utter." This probably happened foon after his converfion; and was graciously intended, either to remove those doubts and fears which the remembrance of his former conduct might naturally occafion, or rather to fortify his mind against the trials and fufferings he was afterwards

to

to meet with in the courfe of his miniftry. One fhould imagine, that fuch a glorious manifeftation could not be liable to any abufe. When Satan would have tempted our Lord to worship him, it was by giving him a fight and offer of all the kingdoms of this world; and we readily admit, that fuch a temptation might prove very fatal to us. Earthly objects have indeed too powerful a tendency to inflame our fenfual appetites, and to alienate our hearts from God but furely no danger can be apprehended from a view of heaven. The glories of the upper world, a difplay of thofe things above, upon which God himself hath commanded us to set our affection, cannot be supposed to have any bad effect.

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And no doubt this will be the cafe, when we shall be perfectly freed from all remainders of corruption. But we learn, from what follows, that in our present state of weakness and depravity, even a view of heaven might prove a fare to our fouls. Holy Paul, as we read verse 7. was in danger of being exalted above measure through the "abundance of the revelations ;" for which

cause,

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caufe "there was given to him a thorn in "the flesh, the meffenger of Satan to buffet “him.” What this particular exercise was, is not material for us to know. The words plainly import, that it was both violent and painful; and the effects it produced as evidently show, that it was appointed in mercy, and wifely calculated for his fpiritual advantage. This eminent faint, who but a little before was caught up into paradife, now humbles himfelf as low as the dust. He falls down upon his knees, and earnestly implores deliverance from this trial. Once and again he repeats his fupplication, but gets no answer. This could not fail to heighten his diftrefs. A meffenger of Satan is fent to buffet him; and God, by his filence, seems deaf to his intreaties. But ftill this is made to work for his good: He becomes more and more fenfible of his own weakness; he draws nearer to a throne of grace, and renews his fuit with increafing fervour and importunity. "For this thing," fays he, verse 8. "I befought the Lord "thrice, that it might depart from me."-At length the answer comes in the words of

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my text: And be faid unto me, My grace fufficient for thee.

You will obferve, that, after all his intreaties, the Lord did not grant him the precife thing he had afked; but he gave him what was better, and more fuited to his condition. Paul needed an antidote against fpiritual pride; and as the thorn in the flesh was neceffary for that end, it would have been no act of kindnefs to have taken it away: and therefore our Lord, who knew his fervant better than he knew himself, prolongs the trial, but at the fame time affures him of grace to fupport him under it. This messenger of Satan muft not be fent away, left thou shouldft forget thy dependence upon me: but I will stand by thee, and strengthen thee to bear his affaults and buffetings; that, feeling thine own weaknefs, and the power of my grace, thy foul may be kept at an equal distance from prefumption on the one hand, and from distrust on the other; both which extremes are utterly inconsistent with the duties of my fervice, and the happinefs of my people. E e

VOL. II.

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