Here our apostle begins to make his apology and defence for himself, for changing his purpose in coming to Corinth according to promise, and to free himself from the imputation of levity, inconstancy, and falsehood, cast upon him by his back friends, the false apostles, for promising to come to Corinth, and not performing it; for they aggravated the matter so far, as if he were one that said and unsaid, one that took no care about keeping his word; and thence inferred, that no regard was to be had to anything that he delivered. "He that is not to be relied upon, say the false apostles, in his ordinary promises, how can you depend upon what he says to you in his preaching?"
Hence learn, That lightness and inconstancy is a great sin and reproach in any, but especially in the ministers of the gospel, who yet are often charged with it, when they are in no degree guilty of it.
Observe, 2. As our apostle frees himself from the charge of inconstancy, so from the suspicion of acting for worldly advantage: The things which I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh? that is, for carnal ends or secular interest, that with me there should be now. Yea, Yea, and anon, Nay, Nay?
Behold here what truth and steadiness was found in and with our holy apostle; how his words and intentions, his tongue and his heart, his pen and his purpose, were one, namely, in reality to come unto them, though he was providentially hindered and obstructed.
Here let us remark and note, what little things the men of the world will rake advantage from, to vilify and lessen the reputation of God's faithful servants, especially his ministers. How many persons might have promised to be in such a place at such a time, and have failed without being reproached for breach of promise!
The world would have been so charitable to another person, as to have excused it, by saying, "The man spake according to his present intention and resolution, but was hindered by the providence of God;" but if Paul fails in a tittle, he must be loaded presently, upbraided for his inconstancy, or which is worse, charged with playing fast and loose for sinister ends, and worldly advantages.
Lord! give thy servants, especially thy ministers, wisdom to walk with exactness and circumspection before the men of the world, who are their watchful observers, and bold censurers, that they may cut off all occasion from them that seek occasion against them.