Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy. This is a well-known rhetorical figure of speech, by which he tones down what had been said before of his power. He means: I said that1was unwilling to punish, and wished you of your own accord to correct yourselves; but I said this not from love of power, or as though I wished to act arbitrarily, but to improve you, that when you were so corrected you might rejoice both on earth and in heaven. This rebuke of mine, therefore, is not so much a rebuke as a support and help to your joy. So Anselm.
For by faith ye stand. "Which," says S. Anselm, "works by love and is not forced by dominion." In your faith I have nothing to correct, but only in your actions; and, since you are of the faithful, I will not imperiously scold you, but gently admonish you by this letter, that so you may all rejoice with me. Since you are of the faith, I have little doubt but that you will at once listen to my admonitions.
Not for that we have lordship over your faith.
That is, I did not therefore say, To spare you I came not, as lording it over you. Again, he said not you, but your faith, which was at once gentler and truer. For him that has no mind to believe, who has power to compel?
But are helpers of your joy.
For since, says he, your joy is ours, I came not, that I might not plunge you into sorrow and increase my own despondency; but I stayed away that you being reformed by the threat might be made glad. For we do every thing in order to your joy, and give diligence in this behalf, because we are ourselves partakers of it. For by faith you stand.
Behold him again speaking repressedly. For he was afraid to rebuke them again; since he had handled them severely in the former Epistle, and they had made some reformation. And if, now that they were reformed, they again received the same reproof, this was likely to throw them back. Whence this Epistle is much gentler than the former.
And when you have examined this opinion of mine, my most intelligent son, you will write back to me your notion of these matters, and let me know whatever may seem to you to be just and preferable, and whether you approve of my judgment in these things.