'FOR WE ARE UNTO GOD A SWEET SAVOUR OF CHRIST, IN THEM THAT ARE SAVED, AND IN THEM THAT PERISH...'
'For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other of life unto life,' 2 Cor. 11 15,16. This text has often been explained to say, that the ministration of the gospel of salvation and of the grace of God is turned into a ministry of destruction and divine wrath on them that are lost, because they will not believe and be saved. But the gospel devolves no such new obligations and penalties, nor makes any such proposals to the will of man, nor is such the meaning of the text, by any proof to be found in the mind of the Spirit through the sacred word. Christ in person, name, work, and fullness, is a sweet savour of acceptable smell and taste unto God the Father, Eph v 2; and the truth of Christ is unto God a sweet savour; and the ministers of the gospel of Christ are also, by sincerity, simplicity, faithfulness and honesty, in the truth they preach, unto God a sweet savour of Christ; and which he makes manifest by the arm of his power; and this, too, in them that perish as well as in them that are saved. And being thus unto God a savour of Christ in both, the apostle says, 'To the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of life unto life,'
The gospel is a descriptive and declarative light on the character and state of men, saying to the wicked, 'It shall go III with them;' describing likewise the personal state and features of character of the wicked; and on the other hand, saying to the righteous, 'It shall go well with them;' describing also the personal state and features of character of the righteous; and which the apostle calls, 'commending ourselves to every man's conscience as in the sight of God,' 2 Cor. iv 2; shewing up things and characters simply and honestly as they really are by the truth of God; whereby the ungodly are shewn up in true character to be in an ungodly lost state, and the children of God are shewn up in true character to be in a godly saved state; that the one be not deceived, and the other be duly comforted and encouraged. As in like manner that a case might occur in a judicatory court, when two characters shall be brought before the judge, and the one has his innocence, not made, but proved and declared; and the other has his guilt, not made, but proved and declared; and to the one the judge is a savour of life unto life, but to the other a savour of death unto death, by a declarative test of character by the light of the law, Deut xxvi. And so a real true and honest gospel minister of Christ is either a savour of death unto death or of life unto life, by a test of every man's state and character by the light of the holy word and truth of God; and which appears most plainly to me to be the apostle's only meaning in our text. But we hear nothing here of the Lord's having committed the salvation of souls into the apostle's hands, nor any thing of the apostle's awful responsibility for the souls of them that are lost, according to the pious cant, idle and senseless talk, of some duty faith men in our days; but, on the contrary, of 'Thanks unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,' though all that heard were not saved; 'for we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God,' by mixing all up together as one and the same, things that essentially differ in nature and design, by misapplying it to character and case, and by making it to contradict itself, and so to say what the Lord never thought or meant; 'but as of sincerity, but as of '\God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ,' 2 Cor. ii 17.