As if he had said, We preach the gospel plainly; but if men do not understand and believe it, will not embrace and obey it, it is not an argument of the gospel's obscurity, but of our hearers' incredulity. The gospel is not hid from men for want of clearness, but only by means of their own voluntary and willful blindness: If our gospel be hid.
Here note, 1. St. Paul's claim and interest in the gospel which he preached, he calls it his gospel: not as if he was the author of it, but because of his instrumentality in the promulgation and establishing of it; it was a divine treasure committed to his care and trust: it was not his gospel by way of original revelation, but by way of ministerial dispensation.
Note, 2. The Corinthians' non-proficiency under the gospel specified, or at least supposed. If our gospel be hid: that is, if the word which we preach with the greatest plainness, in the greatest simplicity and sincerity; if it be hidden from the minds and understandings of men, so as to miss of its convincing power and converting efficacy, the fault is not in the gospel, but in them that sit under it.
Note, 3. The heavy doom and judgment which the apostle passes upon all such persons as sit under the external dispenstion of the gospel, and yet are no ways enlightened nor improved by it, but remain blind and ignornant, obstinate and unreformed. It is a sad symptom and foreboding sign of a lost people.
Learn hence, 1. That there are many, very many, who sit under the external dispensation of the gospel, unto whom the gospel is an hidden gospel.
Learn, 2. That the gospel's being hid from a people who have long enjoyed the light and benefit of it, is a sad symptom, yea, a certain sign, of a lost people. Such blindness, under the clearest light, is like the covering of the face, or tying the handkerchief over the eyes, in order to the turning off the obstinate sinner into eternal hell.