2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice! Aim for perfect harmony, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Sermons
Final CounselsR. Tuck 2 Corinthians 13:11
Live in PeaceJ.R. Thomson 2 Corinthians 13:11
The God of Love and PeaceD. Fraser 2 Corinthians 13:11
Paul's Epistolary Farewell to the CorinthiansD. Thomas, D. D.2 Corinthians 13:1-14
A Beautiful FarewellE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 13:11, 12
Christian UnityBp. Horne.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
FarewellW. Cadman, M. A.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Parting TendernessC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
PerfectionC. A. Bartol.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
PerfectionJ. Edwards, D. D.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Perfection and ComfortR. H. Story, D. D.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Perfection in ChristMark Guy Pearse.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
The City of PeaceT. Adams.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
The Highest Character and the Highest CompanionD. Thomas, D. D.2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Unity, Peace, and BlessednessC. V. Rensselaer, D. D.2 Corinthians 13:11-14


If ever great principles of government were subjected to the severest of ordeals, it was in the instance which has been under review. It ever personal qualities and official prerogatives were inextricably mixed in pending issues, and those issues diffused over a vast surface, it was in this affair at Corinth. If ever the chief actor in the interest of tranquillity and social purity had to fight a battle absolutely single handed and alone, it was St. Paul's fortune in this struggle to save a community from degradation and destruction. We have seen what he endured when endurance was probably harder than at any period of his life. What aids he summoned in these critical hours, what recourse he had to the past, what account he gave of the "thorn in the flesh" and its uses in his work, we have seen in the progress of this interesting section of his career. Most of all, we have seen how the man and the apostle, the tentmaker and the preacher, the liberal Jew and the sagacious Christian, were most happily interblended in the rarest harmony and unity while doing the work of pacification and reformation. And now that he comes before us. in the last expression of himself as to this weighty controversy, it is ennobling to see how finely poised he is, and what anxiety he has "lest, being present," he should be compelled against all his prayers and hopes "to use sharpness according to the power which the Lord had given him." That miraculous gift was his as the apostle of Christ, but it was for "edification, and not to destruction." At the cost of personal humiliation, he would be "glad" if the Corinthians were "strong," and he "weak." How like his Master he was! "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Had he waved his hand, Jerusalem would have been darkened by the wings of gathering angels for his rescue; but he was to be crucified in "weakness" that the "power of God" might be the more gloriously manifested in his resurrection. Power denied in one of its uses, to be more signally displayed in another and higher use, was the lesson St. Paul had learned of his dying Lord. "I am crucified with Christ," said he on a subsequent occasion; but he shares that crucifixion word in one of its most painful forms by withholding the exertion of authority to punish his enemies till all other means had been exhausted. He preached Christ "the Wisdom of God," no less than Christ "the Power of God." Under circumstances of extreme hazard, reputation and influence and future success trembling in the balance, flesh and blood supplying clamorous reasons for a self-asserting course and the swift riddance of a most vexatious trouble, he abides with heroic fortitude by Christian principle in its demands for self-crucifixion, and makes everything yield to magnanimity in his ardent desire for the "perfection" of the Church at Corinth. All this is admirable as a mere matter of congruity in respect to the laws of art. But it leaves the domain of art and rises to a realm infinitely more exalted when he comes before us "apparelled in celestial light," and completes the impression of one

"Whose high endeavours are an inward light,
That makes the path before him always bright." Nothing in the apostle's life more became him than the tenderness in the parting words of this Epistle. "Finally, brethren, farewell." There have been throes of spirit during the birth of this Epistle, moments of vehemence, outbursts of indignation and menace; but they are over now. The sun sets in a sky that the storm has purified, and the last beams glide through an atmosphere of holy stillness. "Be perfect," or, be perfected, making up what ye lack; "be of good comfort," taking encouragement and hope from your trials that God would overrule them for your happiness; "be of one mind," by suppressing all selfishness and partisanship and cultivating unity of interest; "live in peace," so that your outward life bears witness to the fact that ye have "one mind." So shall the "God of love and peace be with you." Let not the sign of your union in Christ as members of his Church be forgotten, and, accordingly, "greet one another with a holy kiss." Macedonian brethren salute you. And now, acknowledging with profoundest reverence the Holy Trinity, "in place of his own salutation, he gives us finally that precious benediction which has acquired such a liturgical use in every age and in every part of the Christian world" (Lunge). Grace, love, communion, - these three, and each blessing and all the blessedness forevery one, friends and enemies, since they are, in this touching moment, "brethren" to his heart. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" in the fulness of his mediatorial office, "the love of God" the Father revealed through that grace, and the "communion of the Holy Ghost" as the effect of the "grace" and the "love" in their fellowship with God and one another, "be with you all. Amen." It pleased God to make St. Paul his own historian during the memorable period to which this Epistle belongs. No one was competent to this task, not even St. Luke, with all his skill and insight as a writer, and his close relations to the apostle The inner life of the author was to be set forth with a force and vividness never equalled in sacred literature; and we were to have a section, and a most important section, of the New Testament as a Scripture of a private soul. For, indeed, the Holy Spirit would not limit the wonders of inspiration to the narration of outward events. Great as those events were in the midst of changes going on in the Roman empire, "the mingling and confusion of races, languages, and conditions," of which Dean Milman gives so eloquent a description ('Latin Christianity'), and vast as was the influence of the gospel in slowly transforming that "heterogeneous mass of a corrupted social system" by "instilling feelings of humanity," and giving "dignity to minds prostrated by years, almost centuries, of degrading despotism," it yet was vital to the purpose of the written Word that we should have the record of a human soul in the most typical period of its perplexity and conflict, and under just such circumstances as identified it most nearly with the sharpest trials of manly intelligence and courage. It is St. Luke who describes the one class of occurrences. Only a St. Paul was qualified for the other; and in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians he does this most interesting work. At no point are we left in dimness or obscurity as to what he felt and purposed. Every moment, as the eye follows his path, we see the end to which his steps are tending. "Faint, yet pursuing," often thwarted, often thrown back, often sorely embarrassed, without the lights of past experience, without the helps of brother apostles, alone and unbefriended, he had to solve those problems of Church order and discipline which involved all the future administrative policy of Christian communities. Throughout the struggle we accompany him. We know what he thought, and why. We mark his wisdom, earnestness, and fidelity. In the variety of his moods, in exaltation and depression, in the alternate predominance of very unlike states of consciousness, we find him the same man as to his ruling principle and aim, the same when he threatens and beseeches, the same when he unmasks "false apostles," that he is in prayers for peace and brotherhood. It was a most energetic and exciting portion of his career. But the man's heart is the chief interest as illustrative of the cardinal doctrines of grace. True, we have invaluable contributions to theological truth, expositions of rare profundity and insight, contrasts between the Law and the gospel never surpassed in this favourite department of his intellectual work, references to the body that throw a new light on its relations to mind, and directions as to practical benevolence which cover the whole range, in this particular, of Christian obligation. Yet these are enhanced in value by the fact that the spirit of an intense living personality is ever present. We lose nothing of the logic and philosophy, nothing of the force in the historical allusions, nothing of the charm of metaphor and similitude. At the same time there runs through everything the subtle influence of an individual soul, so that the strength which throbs in doctrinal arguments is from a heart all alive with sensibility. "Men," says Foster ('First Essay on a Man's writing Memoirs of Himself'), "carry their minds as for the most part they carry their watches, content to be ignorant of the constitution and action within, and attentive only to the little exterior circle of things to which the passions, like indexes, are pointing." Not so St. Paul. Temperament, disease, special circumstances in his position, made him in an unusual degree a self-observing man. In this Epistle we have the richest fruits of his self-knowledge. Most of all, we see the meaning of that discipline of affliction by means of which the life of Christ in the soul is perfected. And we see, too, how our private history is far more than a personal concern, and widens out in connections no one could have foreseen. "A thorn in the flesh" becomes a part of St. Paul's public character; incidents that historians and philosophers and poets would have passed by as of little meaning, take on a most impressive significance, and endear an Epistle, great on other grounds and great as a work of art, to the struggling and sorrowing heart of every Christian. - L.









Finally, brethren, farewell.
Note —

I. THE APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION.

1. The state to be attained: "Be perfect," which conveys the idea of repairing, or putting in order. It is used e.g., of the disciples mending their nets, and also in Galatians 6:1, the idea there being that of a dislocated limb; and just as a surgeon will reduce that limb and restore it to its proper place in the body, so Christians were to restore a fallen brother to the position which he had lost. So it is for you to inquire whether there may have been in time past anything wrong. It was a complaint of Him who searches the heart, "I have not found thy works perfect before God; remember, and repent." At the same time the exhortation is rather for our future guidance. Every believer has his proper place in the Church, and has his proper duties to perform, and it is for us to ask of God to teach us what it is, and then give us grace to do it.

2. The happiness to be enjoyed: "Be of good comfort." Comfort is needed, for we are in a world of sorrow. Comfort is needed even by the believer, for he is called sometimes to suffer under the chastisement of a Father's hand, and "no chastisement is for the present joyous, but rather grievous." But amidst all the dispensations of providence with which God deals with him, he may still be of good comfort. For remember the foundation on which the gospel bases this comfort. "Be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee." Comfort is supplied by —(1) The assurances of the gospel: "God is faithful who hath called you to the knowledge of His dear Son"; "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: the Lord knoweth them that are His"; "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine"; "I know their sorrows and will deliver them"; "I will never leave them nor forsake them."(2) The promises of the gospel. Whatever there be that we want, there is some promise or other of which we may plead the fulfilment at the throne of grace; and our Lord has said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, believing, ye shall receive."(3) The hopes of the gospel.

(a)They extend to the very verge of life. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

(b)They cast a light even upon the dark "valley of the shadow of death."

(c)They give us the assurance of heaven.

3. The unity to be sought: "Be of one mind." Now this has reference to the state in which the apostle found the Corinthian Church. They formed parties and factions. One of them liked one minister better than another. But the apostle asks, "Who is Paul and who is Cephas, but ministers by whom ye believed?" They are mere instruments after all. He teaches the Corinthians to honour Christ alone. Look, then, off from the preacher. Determine to honour Christ only, then there will be no fear, but you will "be of one mind." And then, in order to do that, let His Word only be your authority. Then unite in His work.

4. The spirit to be manifested: "Live in peace."

(1)With God.

(2)With one another. Seek to promote peace in your families, in the social circle, in the church.

II. THE APOSTOLIC ASSURANCE. "The God of love and peace shall be with you." Notice the ground on which this assurance is given. It is not as a condition, but rather as an encouragement. "The God of love and peace shall be with you" to encourage you in the discharge of duty.

1. We have to do with the God of love —

(1)In every comfort and blessing which His bounteous providence bestows upon us.

(2)In every trial which we are called to bear.

2. And He is also the God of peace. He devised peace, arranged the plan by which it might be restored; He proclaims peace in and through the gospel; He delights in peace; He will ever pour upon His people the blessing of peace.

3. Then notice the comprehensive blessing to be realised: "The God of love and peace shall be with you"; in duty to strengthen you, in difficulty to guide you, in trial to support you, in loneliness to befriend you and cheer you, in death to be the strength of your heart, in judgment to be your Father and Saviour.

(W. Cadman, M. A.)

Be perfect
1. "Farewell" means rejoice. Just as the parting wish with us is that friends may fare well, so it was with the Greeks.

2. "Be of good comfort" conveys the same idea, but with reference to difficulties to be overcome. The apostle returns in this expression to the keynote which he had struck in chap. 2 Corinthians 1. The epistle, indeed, is a ministering of comfort united with a call to perfection, and the gist of it is therefore given in this verse. 3. Effort after perfection, however, seems a very different thing from joy on the one side and comfort on the other. These two are smiling and bright, like fertile plains watered by placid silver streams, but the other is a steep rock with its summit lost in the clouds. And yet if we look close we shall find a meaning in the collocation beyond that of mere contrast: Consider —

I. THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.

1. The injunction may seem a strange one in the light of man's condition and history. And yet he has been ever repeating it. In the Far East it is repeated by Confucius. The Brahmin and the Buddhist dream and speculate regarding it. The subtle Greek defined and analysed it. It seems as if man could nowhere escape from it. The very thought of a good suggests that of a better and a best. Every beautiful thing speaks of it. Even the desire to finish a piece of work thoroughly is a hint of it. It is because man has an ideal which rebukes him that he is smitten with penitence; because he has an ideal which gleams before him that he marches on with courage and enthusiasm. The child who tries to write, or draw, or learn a lesson perfectly, opens for himself a chink into the infinite. The idea of the perfect, the thirst after it, is thus one of the greatest powers in the common unideal everyday world. What benefactors the men have been who said, "I cannot and will not rest till I know the principle that underlies these facts"; "I must give perfect expression to that idea at whatever cost of time and labour"; or "I must bring out all the power that lies in this material"; "I must utter the beauty I see in things." Those whose inspiration was the thought of perfection have been the most practical of men. There are many things that never would have been attempted or dreamt of but for this, and the whole fabric of work and thought is sustained and vivified by it.

2. And yet this perfection is everywhere unattainable. The horizon recedes before man to whichever side he turns. It is the same in the moral and spiritual world. Reason approves it, imagination dreams it, conscience demands it, love of God and man never cease to enforce it. The tender majestic glory of Jesus clothes it with unspeakable attraction. And yet ever far above the highest and best of men it towers — the unapproachable. But the pursuit of it is none the less imperative. We dare aim at nothing less.

3. Is this a contradiction? Is it unreasonable that the painter should seek a perfection which no earthly colours can supply, and no mortal hand can achieve? Would not his whole work descend to a poor daub without this ideal? And so without the thought of perfection the depth would depart from duty, effort would grow languid, and every walk of life would feel the blight. When we feel that we are sinking down from the conception we must chide and rebuke ourselves. If we keep the desire for perfection bright, the belief in eternal existence will be a necessity to us, and the entire spiritual realm and atmosphere will spread around us in living power.

II. THE APPARENT INCOMPATIBILITY OF THE TWO INJUNCTIONS.

1. The command to rejoice and be of good comfort is as truly a Divine command as the other. We conceive of joy as something which we may either take or not as we think fit. We forget that the joy inculcated in the Bible is no superficial thing, but a plant having its roots in great truths and blossoming into rich flower and fruit. In one sense joy is an easy thing, in another it is one of the most difficult achievements. We are to be glad in the Lord — how simple and direct this is — how different from the task of forcing joy on the soil of self; but, still, what a clear and steady vision it implies, and what a projection of our thoughts away beyond the sphere of self. To rejoice is natural and inevitable if one only keeps in the proper attitude and element — here lies both the easiness and the difficulty.

2. But the great difficulty to many minds is that of making both comfort and perfection objects of earnest pursuit. The idea is deeply rooted that one or other must be surrendered. And it cannot be doubted that the thirst for perfection often destroys comfort. The thirst for perfection in anything is apt to become absorbing, devouring, isolating. The current of life is drawn away in one direction, and the man becomes unsocial. He is lost in his aim. Religion has often taken this form. Men fascinated with the glory of perfection have often been deeply melancholy with only brief periods of heated joy. Many who are far enough from being thus engrossed in the pursuit, experience a measure of the like sorrow. They are so often disappointed.

3. How, then, can any man attend to both these injunctions?(1) Emphasise the indispensableness of joy. Joy is a necessary and great part of perfection. As well speak of a perfect day without sunshine as a perfect man without joy.(2) Never make perfection a solitary aim. The command to be perfect is only one of many commands. No doubt it includes all others; but it will never be so regarded, unless these also are made to stand out in distinctness and importance. Should not communion with God be placed even higher than our own perfection? And constant fellowship with God means rest and solace and joy. Should not looking to Jesus be the spirit of our life? and can we look to Jesus without getting peace and gladness? Should we not seek to live for others? and does not this self-forgetfulness bring strength and calm? Fellowship with God, faith in Jesus, and life for others, have rest and joy in them. And they are, at the same time, the things most indispensable to progress — they are the main elements in perfection.

(R. H. Story, D. D.)

To most persons this is discouraging language. But the idea is, not that we should grasp perfection as an immediate result, but make it our aim; and this, so far from discouraging, only inspires. How many are satisfied to be as good as others, to reach the current medium of reputable character! But what is this perfection? First, it includes all the virtues. It suffers us not to rely on some good qualities to the neglect of others, or to hope that we can, by a partial innocence, compound with God for the commission of any sin. In the scales of His justice generosity will not atone for intemperance, irritability, or dishonesty. Again, perfection requires that each quality should be free from taint, like the Jew's unblemished offering, and without debasing alloy. Lastly, perfection requires that all the graces be expanded to an unlimited degree. But, immeasurable as perfection is, shall it not be our aim? See how every thing great and good on this earth has grown out of the aim at perfection. Its fruits, if not in religion, are everywhere else around us. Why do we live in such comfortable dwellings? Because men were not satisfied with a cave in the ground or a rude fabric above it; but aimed at perfection. Why that proudest monument of architectural skill careering swiftly between continents, through the waste of waters? Because men were not satisfied with the creaking raft. There, again, is a man who has toiled in loneliness and secrecy upon the strings of a musical instrument till he has concentrated all the sweet sounds of nature into that little space, and can draw forth liquid melodies and mingling harmonies, the voice of birds, and the flow of streams; now the sounds of laughter, and anon the sobs of prayer, to the astonishment of assembled thousands. And shall Christians debate whether it is a possible or reasonable thing to make a perfect piety to God and charity to man their standard? No: there is no other aim worthy of your immortal natures. There is no perfection so glorious as that of moral and religious goodness. Satisfy yourselves no longer with moderate attainments.

(C. A. Bartol.)

I. THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE PERFECTION IN THIS LIFE. By absolute perfection I mean a state without sin, and by this life I mean the present dispensation. I do not wholly deny that a creature may be without sin, yea, I must needs grant it, for God created our first parents without sin, and angels and men in heaven are freed from it. But I speak now of our present state and condition after the fall, when all mankind are corrupted. The testimonies which occur in Holy Scripture prove this sufficiently. Those infallible writings expressly deny a sinless perfection (1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20). Besides, Scripture attesteth this truth by the various instances and examples it presents us with. I might instance also in societies and communities of persons, for the Scripture testifieth the very same of these. The best Churches have sinned. In the next place I am to make this good by reason as well as Scripture and examples. First, if you consider the depraved nature of the best persons, you will conclude that it cannot be otherwise. Secondly, this might be made good from the consideration of the nature of the covenant of grace. A complete exact conformity to the law is not the condition of this gracious covenant made with mankind after the fall of Adam. Thirdly, this doctrine will appear most reasonable if you consider the end and design of God's constituting repentance under the gospel. This great evangelical grace is useless, according to the notion of absolute perfection, for repentance supposeth guilt, but where there is absolute perfection there is no guilt.

II. Is this: THAT THERE IS A PERFECTION TO BE ATTAINED IN THIS LIFE.

1. The perfection which holy men attain to in this life is comparative, i.e., though they cannot arrive to an absolute and sinless perfection, yet they may be said, and expressly are said in Scripture, to be perfect, as they are compared either with others or with themselves at different times. First, I say, if they be compared with others, viz. —

(1)Those that are no Christians.

(2)Those that are profane and wicked, of what religion soever they are.

(3)The holy, but weaker, Christians.

2. Believers and holy men have an imputative perfection. This is the true evangelical perfection, namely, the being perfect by another.

3. The perfection of believers in this life, as it is imputative, so it is likewise personal and inherent. As they are righteous by another's righteousness, so it is as true that they are righteous by their own righteousness, and accordingly they have a perfection of their own.(1) The evangelical and personal perfection of the saints is a perfection of sincerity.(2) The personal perfection of Christians is a perfection of impartial obedience.(3) This perfection consists in our acquiring a habit of virtue and godliness.(4) To climb to the most heroic acts and achievements of Christianity is perfection. Consequently self-denial, taking up the Cross, profound humility, patience, heavenly-mindedness, great mercifulness, and extensive charity, denominate a person perfect (James 1:4). And there is also the perfection of love as it hath God for its object. And so for that eminent grace of faith, that likewise when it is complete is said to be perfect (James 2:22). Conjunction with it, it hath its utmost perfection. Lastly, to be very eminent and exact in any one duty of our religion, to excel in any one grace, especially if it be very difficult, is in Scripture language perfection.(5) To acknowledge our failings and to be thoroughly sensible of our imperfections is the true gospel-perfection.(6) To desire and endeavour after the absolute and consummate perfection, to strive to come as near to it as may be, and as this state is capable of, this is gospel-perfection. He that aims at a star shall shoot higher than he that takes a shrub for his mark. Covet earnestly the best things, aspire to the highest pitch of holiness.

III. Proposition, which is this: THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO MAKE IT HIS BUSINESS TO ATTAIN THIS PERFECTION. Be careful that this perfection be made up of all its dimensions. Thus labour to be complete and entire in your religion; do every thing without reserves, ingenuously, freely, nobly. In brief, follow that advice which Socrates used to commend exceedingly to his scholars, viz., to act to your utmost. To which I must add two rules more, the first of which is this, repent of what you leave undone or what you do amiss. The second is, after all your omissions and commissions rely on Christ's merits, who hath performed perfect obedience for you. Thus you will be perfect, i.e., you will arrive to the perfectest state that this life is capable of. And if you would know by what methods you may most successfully pursue and at last obtain this gospel perfection, I can only tell you that the means and directions in order to it are the same with those that I commended to you for your growing in grace. Evangelical perfection is not to be sought by any enthusiastic flights, and by affecting extraordinary discoveries and helps, but you must tread in the usual and appointed path of God's ordinances, you must take the way and course that is prescribed you by the Word of God, namely, self-examination, meditation, communion of saints, ardent prayer, reading the Holy Scriptures, hearing the Word.

(J. Edwards, D. D.)

I. THE TEXT SEEMS A VERY CONTRADICTORY ONE.

1. "Be perfect." We do not like that. Somebody says, "I do not believe in perfection." What you believe is very little matter. When God speaks it is of very little use to say, "I do not believe in perfection." I want you to say, "My God, what this perfection is Thou knowest, and I want Thee to give it to me." However, these words seem contradictory. "Be perfect." That seems as if the text took me up some slippery height and said, "That is where you have to get, and it is very few people who can get up there, only very clever mountaineers; and many who have got up have not been able to stay up there. They have come falling down again, and have talked about it all the days of their life." "Be perfect." Ah! most of us look up and sigh: "Yes, I very much wish I could be a better man than I am, but I cannot climb." When I went to see the Matterhorn, I said to the guide, "I suppose there are some people who climb that?" "Yes," said he, "a few." I looked at him and said, "When do you think I shall climb it?" and he looked at me and smiled. I said, "Well, I will tell you. When I can fly." That is how most people think about being perfect; they look at the top of that slippery height and say, "Yes, when I can fly." When we have done with earth, then there will be some hope for us.

2. "Be of good comfort." That seems to say, "Take it easy! If you are not as good as some people, never mind; you are not as bad as some are."

II. WHAT WE WANT IS TO PUT THESE TWO THINGS TOGETHER. Let your ideal in Christ be as lofty and sublime as God's ideal is, and yet do not worry. The glory of Christ's religion is that it joins these two. There is many a heathen religion that has its ideal "Be perfect," but it is by torture. Here are the two hands of our God; the right hand of His righteousness that saith, "Be perfect," the left hand of His love that saith, "Be of good comfort."

III. MANY PEOPLE LOSE BOTH BECAUSE THEY PUT THEM IN THE WRONG ORDER. It is a very common and mischievous religion, in which the whole aim is first of all "Be of good comfort" — a religion in which, when a man is converted, he is accustomed to say he is made happy. This religion is true enough until you push it to an extreme. There are thousands of young people in our churches who come home on a Sunday night and say, "Well, I think I'm saved, I feel so happy to-night," and on a Monday morning they get up and say, "I do not think I feel much happier than I did on Saturday," and they think they are lost again.

1. Now, is the idea of our religion, first of all, to make us feel happy? If so —(1) I can find a loftier idea of life outside religion. Come with me into Westminster Abbey. Here are buried heroes, travellers, explorers who defied death in a thousand shapes, and went through all sorts of perils and agonies. What cared they for feeling? They flung feeling to the winds, and said, "There, that is where I have got to get, and that is where I will go," and, nothing daunted, went and reached it. And here you get a very highly respectable tombstone, gilt, magnificent. Will you read the inscription? "Here lies a man who felt happy." Think of that as an aim in life.(2) It is a failure. Religion must, in order to make me perfectly happy, either change my nature, so that all circumstances shall minister to my happiness, or else so change my circumstances as that my nature shall find in them always that which makes me happy. Does it? I get the toothache; I find it pains me as much after conversion as before.(3) You would not deal with your children after that fashion. I have got a boy at home. I do not think he ever told me a lie; but think if, one day, he came all red-eyed and sobbing, and confessed to me, "Father, I have told a lie!" Now, should I say, "Well, my boy, I do not want you to feel like this. Run away; fetch out your marbles; I want you to feel happy"? Not a bit of it. I should want that boy to feel very miserable indeed. If Christ has only come to say to me, "Don't you trouble about sin, it is all right, I have settled that; now you go off. I want you to feel happy," — I say I should be a better man, if by all the anguish of the ages, there should be just wrought through and through me a great, deep abhorrence of the thing that is evil. You have not learned the first lesson of the Cross, if you have not seen brought right out and nailed up in the sight of heaven what God thinks about sin, how He hates it, and must sweep it right away.

2. What is the purpose of the true religion of Jesus Christ? It is to help us to think more of Jesus and to be more like Him. How do you pray? "O Lord, clothe me, feed me, take care of me, prosper me in business, make me more happy, and bring me home to heaven when I die, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." Well, your religion is simply a fattener of your selfishness. "But," you say, "does not it say, 'Give us this day our daily bread'?" Ay! but you have left something out. "Our Father, who art in heaven," etc. — all that first. That is what you are here for, that is why God gives us the crust of bread. That His name may be hallowed, that His kingdom may come, that His will may be done, "Give me this day my crust of bread." Thou must not ask for thy bread till thou hast put God in His right place. First, set Christ upon His throne; think "now I have got to glorify Him." What would that not do for the world? How quickly should the Church overtake the world when every man made the end of his religion not his own little self, not his own escape to heaven; but when the whole purpose of himself in everything and everywhere should be to make the whole world think well of Christ.

IV. A GREAT MANY LOSE BOTH PERFECTION AND HAPPINESS BECAUSE THEY LEAVE OUT THE LORD'S PART ALTOGETHER.

1. Some great impulse seizes you, and you say, "Yes, that is what I have got to be, and that is what I will be." Take care. How long will it last? Ah, how soon we have said — for I have been one of them — "Well, it is no good; I cannot." We could not keep up the strain. If we cannot find something better to begin with than "I," let us give up. The moment I fetch in "I," I fetch in failure. There are some who do succeed. I have met with people who have made themselves perfect — the most dreadful people I ever knew, for they have narrowed and concentrated their whole thought upon themselves. They have begun to chip themselves and cut off their corners, and have made a hundred corners in cutting off one. They have sandpapered themselves, and sulphuric-acided themselves, and at last, after two, three, four, five years of that concentrated agony, and effort, and self-consciousness, they have brought out, what? Why, what else could you expect? from five to six feet of polished "I" — it is all "I, I, I." I cannot believe very much in perfection when I look at human nature; I believe in it less still when I look at myself; but when I look at Jesus I cannot help believing in perfection then.

2. "Be of good comfort," because it is not my straining and sacrificing and putting myself in the fire and melting myself and running myself out into a mould in the image and likeness of Christ; it is the getting away from myself, forgetting myself, bringing in a new consciousness. It is not my climbing the slippery height; it is Christ coming right down from that height to me, and saying, "Soul, this work is Mine, not thine; and I want thee to let Me come in and do it for you." "Be perfect" — yes, with such a Saviour. "Be of good comfort" — yes, because it is His work, not mine. It is saying, "My Lord! Thou shalt do it all." "Comfort" — what does it mean? "Co.," that means "company"; "fort," that means "strength" — strengthening by company. You can only spell holiness in five letters — J E S U S. Perfection is but letting Jesus have His own way with us in everything — Jesus, a perfect Saviour. My Master would not make an imperfect grass-blade, an imperfect daisy, an imperfect spider, and do you think He is going to let His perfect Son show all these things and that redemption shall show nothing of it? No. And now somebody will say to me, "Must not I do anything? For instance, if I am tempted to sin, must not I resist?" Well, I would advise thee not. "Well, but does not it say, 'Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist'?" I thought it did once, but I looked again, and I found before Peter says a word about that, he says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God." Get right in under God's mighty hand, then turn round and say, "Now, devil, I am not afraid of thee a bit." The first thing you have to do before you resist is to run away to Jesus.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

Be of one mind, live in peace
ITS NATURE, here recommended, appears to be sufficiently expressed by the word concord, or unanimity.

1. So necessary is this agreement that bad men cannot execute their schemes without a temporary concord, founded, for want of better principles, either upon the mutual interest of all parties, or a fantastical kind of honour, which answers its purpose if it keep them together, till the deed of darkness be done and the prey divided. If Satan's kingdom were divided against itself, it must presently fall.

2. If we take a view of discord at its introduction into the world, we shall find that it was threefold.(1) Between God and man, occasioned by man's transgression, which estranged him from his Maker, whom from thenceforth he feared.(2) Between man and himself, caused by the accusations of conscience thereupon.(3) Between man and man, owing to unruly desires and passions, continually interfering, and never to be satisfied.

3. In opposition to this threefold discord, introduced into the world by the evil spirit, the concord effected in the Church by the good Spirit of God is likewise threefold. Man is reconciled to God by the righteousness of Christ, through faith; to himself by the answer of a conscience thus purged from sin; and to his brethren by Christian charity shed abroad in his heart.

4. All these operations worketh one and the same Spirit; whence the unity, of which we are now speaking, is styled "the unity of the Spirit," which is represented as encircling all things in heaven and earth with a bond of peace. And is not the Spirit to the Church, or body of Christ, what the breath is to the body natural?

II. TO INDUCE BRETHREN TO "DWELL TOGETHER IN UNITY," GOD SEEMETH TO HAVE EMPLOYED EVERY KIND OF ARGUMENT. He hath erected both worlds upon the basis of concord, and made harmony to be, as it were, the life and soul of the universe.

1. In contemplating the scenes of nature, where indeed there is neither voice nor language, yet it is impossible not to observe how the elements conspire to serve God, and to bless mankind.

2. From a survey of nature, proceed we to inspect the make and constitution of man himself, who subsisteth by a union of two very different parts, a soul and a body, between which there is a kind of marriage not to be dissolved "till death them do part." Nor less observable is the union which obtains between the members of which the body is composed, and by whose mutual good offices it is supported and preserved.

3. It is not more necessary that the members should be joined together in the body, than that mankind should be united in civil society. Man comes into the world helpless. And therefore it is that an all-wise Providence has implanted in our nature that affection which is found to prevail between parents and children, brethren and sisters, those of the same family, kindred, house, city, nation, age, or vocation. Such are the means used to invite and almost force men to live in peace and concord.

4. Let us now see how the ease stands in that spiritual world.(1) And here, if we look up and behold by faith the glory of the eternal Trinity, we must presently fall down, like the elders, before the throne, and in the power of the Divine majesty worship the unity. And as they are one, so all the angels and blessed spirits in the courts of heaven make their sound to be heard as one in blessing them for ever and ever. Not a discordant note is heard in all that celestial choir.(2) From heaven we descend again to earth with Him who did so, for us men, and for our salvation, to the end that as body and soul are one man, so God and man might be one Christ who was to live and to die for us, to suffer and to save; as man to suffer and as God to save.(3) By the union of God and man in the person of Christ, another union was effected between Christ and the Church. For is the vine united to the branches that spring from it? — "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Is the head joined to the body? — "God hath made Him head over all things, to the Church, which is His body." Is there a strict union between man and wife? — "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."(4) One more consequence should follow from this, viz., a union among Christians. Joined to one common head, they should be joined likewise to each other. "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." By concord in the Church, the kingdom of Christ is established on earth, as it is in heaven, where there is no rebellion or opposition to the will of God, but all are unanimous in doing it. By the gospel, enmity was abolished, and never should have been heard of more.

II. HOW SHALL WE BEST PERFORM THIS DUTY.

1. "Acquaint thyself with God, and be at peace"; be at peace with Him and thine own conscience, and then thou shalt be at peace with all around thee.

2. Endeavour, by the grace of Christ, to moderate desires of earthly things. "Whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts, which war in your members?"

(Bp. Horne.)

I. "BE OF ONE MIND." Let there be no division among us in regard to Bible doctrine, Christian experience, or religious duty.

1. Doctrines are the glory of revelation.

2. Again, unity in regard to views of Christian experience is of the utmost consequence to the Church.

3. "Be ye of one mind" in view of Christian duty; be unanimous in advancing the kingdom of our Lord Jesus.

II. "LIVE IN PEACE." This is the second injunction of the text. Living in peace is a true correlative of being of one mind. Spiritual congeniality of feeling sweetly accompanies agreement in sentiment, Religion is "first pure, then peaceable."

1. The nature of the peace recommended includes love to our brethren in Christ, and good will toward all men.

2. The obligations to peace are manifest and manifold.(1) Peace is the fruit of the Spirit. "We have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.(2) The good of the Church is another of the obligations to live in peace.(3) The happiness of the individual is an obligation to live peaceably.(4) A regard for the salvation of others is an obligation to live a life of peace.(5) The heavenly state shows the obligations to a life of peace. No angel in glory disturbs the harmony of the heavenly abode.

3. The manifestations of peace in our lives may be briefly illustrated in reference to our own Church, and in its relation to other churches.(1) In our own Church, the manifestations of peace consist, in part, in a kind and conciliatory treatment of all sectional questions.(2) Another mode in which peace may be exhibited, consists in avoiding the dangers arising from parties formed in admiration of men.(3) A life of peace may be further manifested in the Church in our personal intercourse with our brethren. Let us all "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

III. First unity; then peace; then BLESSEDNESS. "The God of love and peace shall be with you." What a hopeful indication of the blessings that follow unity and peace is found in the very names here claimed by God! "And the God of love and peace shall be with you."

1. He will bless His Church with the indwelling of His Holy Spirit."

2. Again, "the God of love and peace will be with you," to enlarge the prosperity of the Church in His providence.

3. The God of love and peace will be with His loving disciples, to crown them with salvation in His glory. "The meek will He beautify with salvation."

(C. V. Rensselaer, D. D.)

I. ITS WALLS — unity — concord.

II. THE GATES —

1. Innocence;

2. Patience;

3. Beneficence;

4. Recompense or satisfaction;

5. Humility — the little postern.

III. ITS ENEMIES —

1. Hostility without;

2. Mutiny within.

IV. THE GOVERNOR — God, who possesses supreme authority.

V. THE LAW — the law of Christ.

VI. THE PALACE — the temple where God is worshipped.

VII. THE RIVER — prosperity.

VII. THE LIFE OF THE CITIZENS — love.

IX. THE CITY'S GENERAL STATE — universal felicity.

X. THE INHERITANCE — eternal glory.

(T. Adams.)

And the God of love and peace shall be with you
I. THE HIGHEST CHARACTER OF GOD. "Love and peace."

1. Love is the highest attribute of any character. Higher than —

(1)Power. Mere animals have power, but not love.

(2)Wisdom.

2. "Peace." Wherever there is real love, there is peace. The stronger the love, the more essentially pacific the soul. Peace implies —(1) Freedom from remorse. Wherever there is a sense of guilt, there can be no true peace.(2) Freedom from fear. Fear causes the soul to quiver as an aspen-leaf in the wind.(3) Freedom from selfishness. A selfish heart can never be at rest; it is as the tide in the ocean. Jealousy, anger, pride, revenge, all of which are the offspring of selfishness, are antagonistic to peace. He is absolutely free from all these: hence He is a God of peace.

II. THE HIGHEST COMPANION FOR MAN. "The God of love and peace he with you." No companion —

1. So tender. In all our affliction He is afflicted.

2. So wise. He knows all about us: What we have been; what we shall be. He can solve our problems, clear all our perplexities, baffle the machinations of all our enemies.

3. So constant. Human companions are constantly leaving us, either by change or death. But He will never.

4. So enduring. The greatest sorrow of earth arises from the loss of endeared companions. But no bereavement can tear Him away from us.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

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