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sacrifice for sin ; and prompts us to a cordial and unfeigned forsaking of all sin, to such a turning from it, as is resolved against all returning to it.
—But the sorrow of the world irorketh death.
The sorrow of the world may be taken two ways: 1. For the sorrow of worldly men, whose sorrow for sin is only a vexing of their hearts, not a breaking or humbling of their hearts; which being separate from true faith, and without any purpose to leave sin, worketh death, by wearing out the natural life lingeringly, and sometimes destroying the natural life violently, as in the case of Judas. 2. By the sorrow of the world, may be understood a sorrow for worldly things, a sorrow for worldly losses and disappointments. This is sinful, when it is excessive: and as it is prejudicial to the soul, so doth it hurt the body, and hasteneth death. Worldly sorrow is a killing sorrow: Godly sorrow worketh repentance: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
The apostle, in the foregoing verse, had declared, that godly sorrow, or a sorrow wrought by the Spirit of God, worketh true repentance, and produceth a thorough reformation, not to be repented of: now in this verse he proves, that the Corinthians' sorrow for the incestuous person's sin was of this nature, namely, a godly sorrow, because it produced such excellent effects and fruits as godly sorrow is wont to do: seven of which he here reckons up; 1. Care, or 3d holy carefulness to amend what is amiss for time to come, by shunning and avoiding all occasions and temptations that lead to sin. He that truly repenteth is careful not to sin again. 2. Clearing of themuhet: that they did not approve the fact of the incestuous person, but did inflict the church's censures upon him, and so put away evil from amongst them. 3. Indignation against sin: this is found where godly sorrow is found; the heart rises,
swells, and boils against sin; we are then angry and sin not, when we are angry at sin, and with ourselves at sinning. 4. FearJ a true penitent fears to offend; and that he may not offend, doth nourish in himself an holy fear of God, and an humble fear of himself. There is found with him a fear of reverence, from an awful apprehension of the holiness and majesty of God, and also a fear of diligence and vigilance, watching and warring against sin, that it may not set upon us and surprise us for the time to come. 5. Vehement desire, after a thorough reformation, and to rectify whatever is amiss; a desire to be rid of all sin, and in the mean time conflicting with it, and groaning under it. 6. Zeal: this is an affection in a true penitent, compounded of love and anger. Be zealous and repent, is Christ's own call, Rev. iii. 19. This will make a penitent persist in the exercise and expression of his godly sorrow for sin, and persevere in his course of mortification, in defiance of all opposition made against him. 7. Revenge. This is the result of zeal, when our zeal boils into revenge, and puts us upon sclf-castigationsl not so much upon our bodies with whips and scourges, but by the abatement of lust which stirreth in us, buffeting the flesh, and bringing it into subjection. And this revenge leads the penitent also to make satisfaction for wrongs done, either by open confession, or secret restitution, In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. As if the apostle had said," By these fore-mentioned acts of yours, the body of you hath shown that you did not approve of the incestuous person's sin, but evidenced, by your sorrow for it, that you are clear of it." Learn hence, 1. That there is no way to get clear of the guilt of other men's sins, but by duly mourning for them: Now you are clear of this matter. Learn, 2. That true repentance for sin clears us from the guilt of it, both in the sight of God and man; and if so, it is both uncharitable and unchristian to stigmatize or reproach any person for the sin which we either know or believe he hath truly repented of.
12 Wherefore, though I wrote upto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
Here the apostle tells them, that he did
not write so passionately and severely to them, only or chiefly for the incestuous person's sake who had done the wrong, that he might be punished; nor for his sake that had suffered the wrong, namely, the injured father, out of a particular kindness to have him righted j but that his general care, solicitude, and concern for them, the whole church of Corinth, to remove sin and scandal fiom them, might appear unto them.
13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
That is, in all the fore-mentioned effects and fruits, signs and evidences, of a true repentance, which were found in you, and are matter of great comfort to you, we are also comforted with you ; and we also had a superadded joy, for the joy that Titus conceived, upon his understanding of your affairs ; also your ready compliance with the duties and directions given you in my former epistle, did wonderfully refresh and rejoice his spirit; and in all these your consolations and comforts am I comforted. Hence learn, That such is the intimate and endeared union between the ministers and members of Jesus Christ, that they are comforted with one anothers comforts, and afflicted with each others sorrows and sufferings.
14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth, lo And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remcmbereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembline ye received him. 16 I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence in you in all things.
Observe here, How the apostle had formerly taken occasion to speak boastingly, and not without assurance, concerning the church of Corinth. "Now," says the apostle, '' whatever I said of you is as infallibly and certainly true, as what I have heretofore either written or spoken to you." Happy is it when a minister's commenda
tions of his people unto others, are not contradicted or gainsaid by the people themselves, but confirmed greatly. Here, what St. Paul had boasted of the Corinthians Titus found a truth. Observe next, With what inward affection Titus did embrace and receive the Corinthians, remembering with what great deference and regerd they had received him: he is greatly affected towards you, upon his finding you so obedient to me. Nothing doth more endear a people to the ministers of Christ, than to find them obedient to their spiritual guides in things pertaining to godliness, and religion : The affection of Titus is more abundant towards you, whilst he remcmbereth the obedience of you all. Observe lastly, What confidence the apostle had, that the church of Corinth would hearken to, and comply with, his future admonition?, exhortations, and reproofs: I have confidence in you in all things. It is a blessed thing when the ministers of the gospel and their beloved people have a mutual confidence in each other, and when that confidence on either side is not broken, but preserved and increased between them all their days: when they can say of each other, as doih the apostle here, J rejoice that I have confidence in you in nil things.
The desig-n and scope of our apostle, in ttiis and the following chapter, is to excite and stir up the Corinthians to a liberal contribution of their charily towards the poor saints in Jerusalem and Judea; and this he docs by several arguments; as, namely, by the example of the Macedonians, by commendations of tiicir former forwardness, by the example of Christ, and by the special benefit and advantage which would cervainty redound to themselves thereby. The former of these arguments is propounded, ver. 1.
"OREOVER, brethren, we do you to \i it of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that, in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
Tlie first argument which our apostle makes use of to excite the charity of the Corinthians, is drawn from the example of the Macedonians, into whose hearts God had poured that excellent grace of charity; insomuch that the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, Berca, and other churches in the region of Macedonia, though under great trials and afflictions themselves: yet
such was their joy in, and their affection to, the christian profession, that notwithstanding their deep poverty, they abounded in their liberality towards the necessities of the poor saints in Jerusalem and Judea. Note here, 1. The root from which all acceptable charity to the members of Christ must arise and spring, namely, from the grace of God: from an inward principle of love to God, in obedience to his command, and with a pure and fixed eye at his glory. Liberality to the poor distressed members of Christ, as such, must flow from that habit of divine love, by which men are taught of God to love one another; for though from a natural sympathy and compassion men may relieve the afflicted, at men, yet without a gracious inclination they cannot do good to them, as members of the household of faith. Charity then is here called the grace of God, because it proceeds from a gracious disposition wrought in the heart by God, as the root and spring, the motive and attractive, of it. Note here, 2. The condition which the churches of Macedonia were in themselves; when they thus liberally and cheerfully administered to the necessities of others, they were first under great affliction, and then in great poverty themselves: and yet the riches of their liberality are here said to abound. From hence learn, That poverty excuses not from charity: if we have nothing actually to give, God accepts the inclination of the mind, and a willing desire. If we have but little to give, God will accept of our mite, and reward us for that little, if given for his sake. It is not the quantity of the gift, but the good affection of the giver, that God's eye is upon. If we give but a cup of cold water to a disciple, and as a disciple, God accepts it and rewards it, provided we have nothing better to give; for if our charity be not in some degree proportionable to what we have, it will not be acceptable, but we shall miss of its reward.
3 For to their power, (I bear record,) yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
Three things are here recorded as the glory of the Macedonians' charity. 1. It was profusely liberal beyond their
ability: To their power, yea, and beyond their power, they were ready. Though, generally speaking, we are to consult our own ability and present circumstances in all our charitable distributions; yet there may be, and sometimes are, such emergent occasions, as may make it a necessary duty to administer to others' necessities far beyond our own ability. 2. Their charity was purely voluntary: They were willing of themselves i that is, unsolicited by the apostle, unasked by any other, only prompted to it by the grace of God: they made a collection amongst themselves freely and cheerfully. 3. Their charity was accompanied with importunity to the apostle to receive and distribute it. He was so far from entreating them to give, that they entreated him to receive their collection, and to take care for its conveyance to them, aud distribution among them: Praying us with much entreaty, that we would receive this their gift, and fellowship of ministry to the saints.
5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their ownselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
As if the apostle had said, " Verily these Macedonians, in the liberal distribution of their alms to the poor christians, have exceeded our hopes and expectation." Wherein ?—First, they gave their ownselves to the Lord, and then unto us by the will of God. They gave themselves, their ownselves, first to the Lord. To give a man's self to the Lord, is more than to give all his estate to him, though, strictly speaking, it is rather a debt than a gift ; for we owe ourselves to the Lord. And, O, how infinitely shall we gain by this giving! he gains all, who gives his all to God: God will return it with advantage to him. Next, the Macedonians, says the apostle, gave themselves unto us by the will of God ; that is, they resigned themselves up to us, to be employed by us in such services as we thought meet. It seems they were ready to assist the poor saints, as well with their persons as with their purses. From the Macedonians giving themselves first to the Lord, and then to the church's service, in all charitable distributions, we learn, That he that does not first dedicate himself, will never dedicate his estate to God ; but he that bv a deliberate and voluntary dedication gives himself to God, will keep back nothing that he requires from him; yea, he will Took upon all that he has and is as the Lord's. Not an inch of his time, not a penny in his purse, but is to be employed by, and improved for, God. He looks upon God as the owner and proprietor of all, and himself as the steward and dispenser only. O! let us, in imitation of these noble, though poor Macedonians, first give ourselves to the Lord, and then we shall never withhold any thing that is ours from him.
0 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
Here our apostle proceeds to make use of several other arguments to persuade the Corinthians to the exercise of the duty and grace of charity; as, namely, 1. Because he had desired Titus to go to them ; and as he had in his last visit begun to stir them up to this duty, and to exercise this grace, so he would farther promote and bring it to perfection. And, 2. Because they abounded in other graces and gifts; as namely, in faith, in utterance, and knowledge, &c. therefore they ought to abound in this grace also, otherwise they would not be complete in the whole will of God. 3. Because hereby they would testify the sincerity of their love to the saints. Tisnot good words, but charitable deeds, that evidence the truth of our love to our fellowmembers in Christ; not saying, Be ye warmed, or be ye clothed; but distributing to their necessities according to our abilities. Yet observe, The apostle doth not command their purses, and require so much of them for charity ; he mentions no particular sum, much less doth he command them to give away all their estates, and live upon a common stock, and leave nothing to themselves which they could call their own; for if a man has nothing of his own, there is no room for liberality. There must be prudence then in the exercise of our charity, prudence in finding out pro
per objects for our charity, prudence in timing of our charity, prudence in the measure of our charity, and prudence in the end which we propound to ourselves
in the exercise of our charity.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he hebecame poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Here we have the grand motive used by the apostle to excite their charity, namely the example of Christ, who impoverished himself to enrich us, and emptied himself to fill us; therefore should we be ready to administer unto others , Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Src. Observe hence, 1. A description of Christ in his divine nature, as God: be was originally, essentially, and eternally rich, that is, in his Godhead. All the riches that Christ now has in his state of exaltation, he had from all eternity; before his humiliation, with respect to his divine nature, he was rich. Observe, 2. A description of Christ in his human nature: he became poor; that is, in the day of his incarnation, when he assumed our flesh, and was made manifest in our nature, he impoverished himself: though he was rich, yet he became poor. Observe, 3. The persons for whose sake he did thus impoverish himself: For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich. Observe, 4. The moving, impelling, or impulsive cause, of this condescension in Christ, and that was the graciousness of his nature: Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Observe, 5. The use and improvement which the apostle makes of this gracious dignolion and condescension in Jesus Christ; and that was by way of argument, to excite the believing Corinthians to exercise their charity towards the poor saints which were at Jerusalem. Learn from hence, That the extensive charity and wonderful compassion of Christ towards us sinners, hath both the force of an argument to excite us to, and also the nature of a rule to direct us in, the exercise of our charity towards all our fellow-brethren and members of Christ; Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Src .
10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now, therefore, perform the doing of it ; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Here the apostle proceeds to a fresh argument for the quickening and exciting the Corinthians' charity, drawn from their own reputation, He had heard that a year ago, upon writing his former epistle, they had made several collections, at several times, as their gains came in; his advice therefore is, that they perfect and complete the good work which they had undertaken; and that as there was a readiness and willingness of mind then, so there might be a performance of their good resolutions now. For whatsoever is given to God, is accepted according to what a man has, and it is not expected he should give according to what he has not. Learn hence, That God interprets and accepts the charity of men according to the largeness of their hearts, and not according to the straitness of their fortunes. It is not so much the quantity of the gift, as the good will and cheerful mind of the giver, that God looks at; If there be first a -willing mind it is accepted. Leam farther, That to do any good with a willing mind, be it little or much, is very acceptable to God ; if there be little of the purse, and much of the heart in it, provided that little be what we can well spare, the Lord hath a great respect onto it. Learn lastly, That as we must give, so God will accept what is given, according to what a man has, and not according to what he has not. What is due to another, either by debt or duty, in making provision for those of our own family, cannot be charitably given, as being not our own.
13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may he a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want, that there may be equality: 15 As it is written, He
that had gathered much had nothing over: and he that had gathered little had no lack.
Observe here. The humble modesty and holy prudence of the apostle, in what he demanded of the Corinthians by way of charity for the poor saints in Judea. He tells them freely, he did not design to lay a load upon them to ease others, or to make others rich by making themselves poor; but that there might be an equality in supplying the wants of one another, that now you abound, you may supply them; and when they abound, they»may supply you. Yet mark, we must not, by the equality mentioned here, understand it so, as if the wisdom of the divine providence had ordained levelling, or making all men equal in their portion of the good things of this life. But so far christianity sacms to require this equality, that we should not suffer others to lack the necessary comforts of this life, whilst we abound with them, and can spare them ; and suffer them to sink in their sorrows, whilst we swim in fulness. Learn hence, There is a debt of mercy and pity, of charity and compassion, of relief and succour, due to human nature, and payable from one man to another; and such as deny to pay it the distressed in the time of their abundance, may justly expect it will be denied themselves in a time of want. To confirm this, the apostle draws an allusion from the gatherers of manna in the wilderness; some gathered more, and other less; but they that had more were to give them that had less. In like manner would Almighty God have it, that they which have great riches, should impart of their abundance to them that are in want; otherwise Almighty God will shrink their heap into some equality with them whom they refused to relieve. With what measure we mete, in acts of charity, as well as in acts of justice, it shall be measured to us again.
16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 1t1 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19 And not that only, but who was