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Paul, on leaving Ephesus, probably went by land, for at least part of the way. He had calculated, in fact, that Titus, going by sea from Ephesus to Troas would have reached this latter point before him. This 230calculation was not verified. Arrived at Troas, he did not meet Titus there, which caused him a lively concern. Paul had already passed by Troas; but it does not appear that he had preached there. This time he found very favourable dispositions. “A door was opened unto me of the Lord.” Troas was a Latin town in the style of Antioch in Pisidia and of Philippi. A certain Carpus welcomed the Apostle, and lodged him at his house; Paul employed the days during which he was waiting for Titus in founding a Church. He succeeded admirably, for, some days afterwards, a company of the faithful accompanied him to the shore, when he set out for Macedonia. It was about five years since he had embarked from the same port, at the demand of a Macedonian man whom he had seen in a vision. Never assuredly had a dream counselled greater things or brought about more beautiful results.

This second stay of Paul in Macedonia must have occupied six months, from June to November 57. Paul employed himself all this time in confirming his beloved Churches. His principal residence was at Thessalonica; he was constrained, however, to dwell also for some time at Philippi and at Beræa. Troubles which had filled the last months of his stay at Ephesus seemed to pursue him. During the first days after his arrival he had no rest. His life was a continual struggle: the gravest apprehensions stood in his way. These cares and afflictions did not assuredly come from the Churches of Macedonia. There could not be more perfect Churches, more generous, more devoted to the Apostle; nowhere had he met with so much heart, nobleness, and simplicity. He found a good many bad Christians—sensual, earthly—on whose account the Apostle expressed himself with much vivacity, calling them “enemies of the Cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things,” and upon whom he denounces eternal ruin; 231but it is doubtful if they belonged to the actual flock of the Apostle. It is from the side of the Church of Corinth that these great anxieties come. He fears more and more lest his letter may not have stirred up the indifferent, and may have armed his enemies.

Titus at last rejoined him, and consoled him for all his griefs. He brought, in a word, good news, although the clouds were far from being wholly dissipated. The letter had produced the most profound effect. At its reading, Paul’s disciples had listened in tears. Nearly all had testified to Titus, whilst shedding tears, the profound affection that they bore for the Apostle, sorrow for having grieved him, the desire of seeing him again, and of obtaining pardon from him. These Greek natures, unsteady and inconstant, came back to the right path as quickly as they had left it. His expressions frightened them. They supposed that the Apostle was armed with the most terrible powers; before his threats, all those who owed their faith to him, trembled and sought to exculpate themselves. They had not indignation enough against the guilty; each sought by his zeal against others to justify himself, and to turn aside the severity of the Apostle. Titus was overwhelmed by Paul’s disciples with the most delicate attentions. He came back enchanted by the reception that they had given him, by the fervour, by the docility, by the goodwill that he had found in the spiritual family of his master. The subscription was not much advanced, but there was a hope that it would be fruitful. The sentence pronounced against the incestuous had been softened, or rather Satan, to whom Paul had given them up, did not execute the decree. The sinner was allowed to live on; the Apostle had the credit of giving an indulgent consent to what was after all a mere following of the course of nature. They did not even chase him absolutely from the Church, but they avoided having relations with him. Titus had conducted all this business with 232consummate prudence, and as skilfully as Paul would have done it himself. The Apostle never experienced keener joy than at the reception of this news. During some days, he altogether lost his self-command. He repented of having grieved such good souls; then, on seeing the admirable effect that his severity had produced, he became full of joy.

This joy was not unmixed. His enemies were far from yielding; the epistle had exasperated them, and they made the keenest criticisms upon it. They noted that it was hard and insulting to the Church; they accused the Apostle of pride and vanity; “His letters,” said they, “are severe and energetic; but his figure is mean, and his speech without authority.” They attributed to personal hate his rigour towards the incestuous. They treated him as a foolish, extravagant, conceited, and indiscreet man. The changes in his plans of journey were presented as proofs of instability. Agitated by this double news, the Apostle set about dictating to Timothy a new letter, destined, on the one hand, to lessen the effect of the first, and to bear to his beloved Church, which he believed himself to have wounded, the expression of his paternal sentiments; on the other, to reply to the adversaries who had failed for the moment to carry away the hearts of his children from him.

As for his enemies, Paul knew that he had not disarmed them. At each instant there are lively and smart allusions to these people “which corrupt the word of God,” above all, to those letters of recommendation which they have turned to his detriment. His enemies are false apostles, deceitful workers, who disguise themselves as the apostles of Christ. Satan sometimes changes himself into an angel of light; therefore is it astonishing if his ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness? Their end shall be according to their works. They pretend that he has not known the Christ. He does not agree 233with them; because for him his vision on the road to Damascus has been a true personal relationship with Jesus. But, after all, what does it matter? Since Christ is dead, all are dead with Christ, to carnal considerations. For himself, he no longer knows any one according to the flesh. If he has known Christ after the flesh, he knows him no more. Let them not force him to be other than he is. When he is amongst them, he is humble, timid, embarrassed; but he hopes they will not oblige him to use the arms which have been given to him to destroy every fortress opposed to Christ, to destroy all scorners who raise themselves against the knowledge of God, and to submit every thought to the yoke of Jesus; it is easy to see that he knows how to punish disobedience. Those who describe themselves as of the party of Christ ought to remember, that he, Paul, is also of the school of Christ. The power that the Lord has given him to edify, do they wish to oblige him to use it to destroy? They try to make the Corinthians believe that he seeks to frighten them by his letters. Let those who use this language take care lest he be forced to write to them in even severer terms. It is not of the number of men who vaunt themselves and who have just hawked about right and left their letters of recommendation. His letter of recommendation is the Church of Corinth. This letter, he bears in his heart; it is legible for all; it is not written in ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not upon tables of stone, but upon the tables of the heart. He only measures it in its proper proportion, he only compares it himself. He only arrogates to himself authority over the Churches which he has founded; he is not like men who wish to extend their power over countries in which they have not shown themselves in their own person, and who, after having yielded to him, Paul, the Gospel of the Circumcision, have just now gathered the fruit of a work which they had at first opposed. Each to his own ground. He 234need not boast of the works of others, nor vaunt him-self verbosely and without measure; the portion that God apportioned to him is beautiful enough, since it has been his lot to bear the Gospel to Corinth; and still he hopes to go farther away. But it is in God alone that he finds his glory.

This modesty was not feigned. But it is difficult for a man of action to be modest; he runs the risk of being taken literally. The least egotistical of the Apostles is incessantly compelled to speak of himself. He calls himself an abortion, the least of the saints, the least of the Apostles, unworthy of that name, since he has persecuted the Church of God; but do not believe that for all that he resigns his prerogative.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. . . .

“For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles. But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things. Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me, the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. . . .”


Arming himself with the accusation of madness, that his adversaries raised against him, he accepts for a moment this position which they have lent him, and, under the mask of oratorical irony, he makes the madman throw in the face of his adversaries the harshest truths.

22This is the latter part of the 2d Epistle to the Corinthians, freely rendered. No literal translation gives the sense.—Trans.“I am a fool, it is agreed; very well, bear with my folly for a moment. You that are wise, ought to be indulgent to fools. And then, you shew so much tolerance for men who put you into servitude, who devour you, who extort your money, and who, after that, are puffed up with pride, and strike you in the face. Let us go on, since it is the fashion to sing one’s own glory, let us sing ours. All that can be said in this kind of folly, I can say like them. They are Hebrews; so am I. They are Israelites; so am I They are of the race of Abraham; so am I. They are ministers of Christ (ah I speak as a fool), I am more. In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. And outside of these accidents, snail I recall my daily anxieties, the care of all the Churches? Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? . . . . But I only wish to glory in my infirmities . . . . it is in our infirmities that the strength of Christ is more manifest. That is why I glory in my infirmities, in my injuries, in my 236necessities, in my persecutions, in my sufferings for Christ, for when I am weak in the flesh I am strong in Christ.

“Truly I am become a fool in glorying; you have compelled me. I should have been exempt from it, if you had wished to charge yourselves with my apology to those who attack me. I am nothing; but I yield in nothing to the very chiefest Apostles. Truly I have wrought the signs of an Apostle among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other Churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this injustice. It is the third time that I have announced my approaching arrival to you. This time I will not be burdensome to you; for I seek not yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And, I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved.

“But if it be so, it may be said I have not been directly in your charge, but, crafty rogue that I am, I have skilfully swindled you of the silver that I refused to accept. Did I gain anything by any of those whom I have sent to you? I sent Titus to you, and with him a brother whom you know. Did Titus make a profit out of you? Walked we not in the same spirit and in the same steps? . . . For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults. And lest when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. This is the third time I am coming unto you . . . I told you before, and warn you, absent 237as present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me . . . Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me.”

Paul, we see, had reached that great state of exaltation in which the religious founders of the first order lived. His thoughts lifted him out of himself. The manner in which to execute the contribution for the poor of Jerusalem was at this time his consolation. Macedonia showed an exemplary zeal in it. Those excellent souls gave with a joy, with an eagerness, which ravished the Apostle. Nearly all the members of the sect had suffered in their little way through having adhered to the new doctrine; but in their poverty they still knew how to find something for a work which the Apostle designated as excellent. The hopes of Paul were more than fulfilled; the faithful nearly went down on their knees, to beg the Apostle to accept the necessarily small donations which they were able to offer. They would have given themselves, if the Apostle would have accepted them. Paul, pushing his delicacy almost to exaggerated refinement, and wishing, as he said, to be irreproachable not only before God but before men, requiring that they should choose at the election deputies charged to carry the offering of each Church, carefully sealed, so as to disperse the suspicions that malevolence would certainly cast upon him concerning his management of considerable funds. These deputies followed him already everywhere, and formed around him a kind of escort always ready to execute his missions. They were those whom he calls “the envoys of the Churches, the glory of Christ”

Cleverness, suppleness of language, the epistolary dexterity of Paul, were employed entirely in this 238work. He employed to recommend it to the Corinthians the most moving and tenderest phrases; he commanded nothing; but, knowing their charity, he allowed himself to give them advice. It was a year since they had begun; he was now anxious himself to finish; goodwill did not suffice. It is not a question of worrying oneself to put others at ease. The rule in such affairs is equality, or rather reciprocity. For the moment, the Corinthians are rich and the saints of Jerusalem are poor, it is for the former to help the latter, the latter will help the former in turn. Thus he himself will verify the saying: “He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.”

Paul prayed the faithful Titus to return to Corinth and to continue the work of charity there which he had so well begun. Titus had desired this mission, and received it with eagerness. The Apostle gave him two companions, whose names we do not know. One was of the number of the deputies who had been elected to bear the offering from Macedonia to Jerusalem; “his praise,” says Paul, “is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.” The other was a brother “whom Paul had oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which he had in the Church of Corinth.” Neither of those indications suffices to settle who is meant. Paul prayed the Corinthians to keep up the good opinion which he had tried to give of them to these three persons, and employs to excite their generosity a little charitable manœuvre which raises a smile.

“For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: lest haply if they 239of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready as & matter of bounty, not as of covetousness. But this I say, he which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. . . . Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your. seed sown, and increase the fruits of righteousness. . . . For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whilst by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!”

This letter was carried to Corinth by Titus and by the two brethren who accompanied him. Paul remained still for some months in Macedonia. The times were still very hard. Scarcely ever has there been a Church which has not had to contend with ever-recurring difficulties. Patience is the recommendation that the Apostle addresses the oftenest. “Tribulations, distresses, pangs, cudgellings, prisons, bad treatment, vigils, fastings,—purity, long-suffering, honesty, sincere charity, such is our life; sometimes honoured, sometimes despised, sometimes slandered, sometimes respected; held as impostors, as well as truthful ones; as unknown, yet well known (of God); as dying, whilst we live; as men whom God chastises 240and yet we do not die; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; for poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” Joy, concord, hope without limit, made suffering light, and inaugurated that delicious reign of “the God of love and peace” that Jesus had announced. Above a thousand meannesses, the spirit of Jesus shines in these groups of saints with infinite brightness and sweetness.

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