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from invisible powers, and from every gloomy apprehension about thee, and thy secret unknown decrees concerning us: for thou hast revealed to us by Jesus, our Lord and Master, that all is fair and clear above, that thou art the equal and impartial lover of all thy children, and intendest the happiness of all.

Suffer us not to abuse this thine unspeakable goodness, and to do evil because thou art merciful and gracious, lest evil befall us from thee, and thou give us up, for our just punishment, to a hardened unsearching mind.

But visit us, O Lord, by thy good spirit, by which thou art present to, and directest and upholdest all things ; that thy benignity and loving kindness may sink deep into our hearts, and powerfully influence us to the fear and love of thee, and to obey thy sacred laws, which thou requirest of us only for our good.

Finally, O Lord our God! whatever be our state and condition on this first stage of our being, however low, destitute, and despised of men; whilst we enjoy the light of thy countenance and walk in thy ways,-make us not only to be contented, but to rejoice in and to vindicate thy dealings towards us; for that whatever thou appointest is best for us,


and thou hast assured us in thy holy word that all things shall work together for good to those that love thee.

Unto Thee, O Father supreme ! who art the only living and true God, be praise, thanksgiv. ing, adoration, and an increasing obedience, by us, and all thine intelligent creation, for ever and ever!

December 27, 1778.



2 Cor. xii. 8.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it

might depart from me.

The apostle here refers to a distressful suffering, of a very singular kind, with which God had visited him, and from which he had prayed earnestly to be delivered. It is proposed to treat the whole of the difficult passage, which relates to the subject; as, I apprehend, the unfolding of it will be of service to the right understanding of other parts of the sacred writings; and also furnish some useful reflections to make one truly wise and good, which is the prime end of these our assemblings of ourselves together.

But it will assist us in our inquiry, if we first take a brief view of the character of this church of Christians at Corinth, and St. Paul's connexion with it.


Corinth was one of the chief cities of Greece, and its inhabitants, the Corinthians, famous for their wealth and politeness, and for great

dissoluteness of manners, which too often accompany each other. Our apostle had first preached the Gospel to them, and had great success in bringing many of them off from their idolatry and vicious practices, to the knowledge of the truth. He seems also to have wrought upon some of his countrymen, who were settled amongst them, as in most other parts of the then known world, to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

After a long abode among them, of near two years, he departed to preach the Gospel

When he was gone away, the affairs of religion did not go on so amicably amongst them, but they became split into parties : when, therefore, a while after they sent some persons to ask his opinion of some doubtful points, in writing back to them he took that occasion to reprove them for the divisions that had been fomented in his ab

in other parts.


The Jewish converts had been the chief cause of dissension, in seeking to make the gentile Christians conform also to the law of

Moses ;

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