2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you…
I. THE DESIGNATION OF CHRISTIAN PEOPLE.
1. An epistle is a fact of production. No epistle is self-produced. It must have a writer. Nor is it a creation; all the elements existed before. So with the epistle of Christ.
2. An epistle is a production of intelligence. An epistle must have a direct intelligent end, must be worth reading and knowing.
3. A letter is the expression of the thoughts and purposes of the writer. So Christians are the transcript of Christ's design, morally impressed with the counterpart of His principles and character as their Exemplar.
4. A letter is a medium of communication. So what is communicated to Christians must be communicated by them to others. It must be communicated as it is; it must not be obliterated or shown partially.
II. THE WRITING AGENT, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EPISTLE IS COMPOSED. "The Spirit of the living God," etc., who —
1. Works according to His own plan.
2. By the use of suitable means, and according to established laws. The act is not a thing done in some rare instances, but in the heart of all good people.
3. By the concurrence and co-operation of man himself — the object of His work. Man is an agent of his own culture and all which belongs to him in life. He is also the agent of his own salvation. If he neglects his work, no one can do it for him.
III. THE INSTRUMENTAL MEANS "ministered by us." The ministry of the gospel —
1. Brings the materials of truth and salvation to men.
2. Prepares also the pages of the soul to receive true impressions and the blessings offered in the gospel. There are stains to be erased, misconceptions to be corrected, habits and prejudices to be destroyed, before clear and true writing can be made.
3. Brings the human soul and Divine truth face to face, so by Divine light and love a photographic image is printed upon the whole soul. Whilst it is a Divine power it is a Divine art, printing upon the human heart and life a true image and right language.
4. Perpetuates the means of truth and right life.
IV. THE TABLET OF RECORD, "the fleshy tables of the heart." As the heart is the centre of our natural life, it is also, in a moral sense, the centre and base of our spiritual life.
1. The work of God in the heart is carried on quietly and secretly, but is powerful in its results, like the forces of God in nature. What more secret than thought, love, faith? but what more powerful and clear in their results? The letter is secret in the writing, but known in the reading.
2. Though unseen to sense, ii is nevertheless a matter of consciousness to the subject of it,
3. It is a process which purifies and develops human affection. The end is to make the heart belier and larger.
4. It is a process intended to govern the springs of human life. Mankind is governed through its heart. It is a happy and high state when the sentiment of the heart is one with reason.
5. Whatever is good and happy, if written on the heart, is an immediate source of life and comfort.
6. It is a thing to be highly estimated and remembered. When we wish to gain esteem, we try to reach the heart; when we desire not to be forgotten, we try to print our name on the tablet of the heart.
Parallel VersesKJV: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?