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also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
As if the apostle had said, I thank God that Titus was as forward to move you to this good work as myself; for he did not barely yield to it at my request, but of his own accord was ready to come to you about it. And with him he sent Luke, a beloved brother, whose service for the gospel has made him honoured in all the churches, and who was chosen by the church to go with us in this diaconary service, namely, the ministration of your charity to the glory of God, and evidencing the readiness of your mind to so good a work. Here note, 1. The holy apostle's constant custom and practice, to refer all good in us to God, as.the author and producer of it; Thanks be to God, that put this into the heart of Titus. Note, 2. That a minister of the gospel, who declines being chargeable to his people himself, may yet put on confidence, and be bold and importunate in urging them to charity for the service and supply of others. Note, 3. That St. Paul's importunity for collecting this charity at Corinth, shows how much the case was altered since, at Jerusalem, Acts iv. they sold all, and laid it at the apostle's feet: and as that was not intended for a constant and universal practice, so we see how quickly the love of christians grew more cold. To procure this charity, St. Paul writes, Titus is sent, exhortation is given, arguments urged, and all due means used to accomplish this collection for the poor distressed christians. Note, 4. That amongst christians renowned for gifts and parts, costly duties come hardly off; else what needed this also? And yet it is not the cheap duties of religion, (such are prayer, hearing the word, and receiving sacraments,) but the costly duties of charity, that must evidence the truth of our faith and love; which are certainly dead, if barren and destitute of these fruits.
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 And
we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
Note here, The holy wisdom of this great apostle, in joining some other persons with himself, as Titus and Luke, &c. in the distribution of this charity ; lest evil-minded men should suspect him of dishonesty, he takes care to cut off all occasion of suspicion, that he either kept any part of this large contribution to himself, or distributed it unfaithfully unto others; Avoiding this, that no man should blame us. Note, 2. The reason also assigned by the apostle for this his prudential management; namely, because as a minister and a christian he was obliged to provide and take care that all things be done blamelessly in the sight of men, as well as faithfully in the sight of God. The apostle by this his example, recommends to all ministers and private christians a prudential foresight of such scandalous imputations as they may be exposed to by the world, let their sincerity in their actions be what it will; and lets us see how we ought to provide against them. Any one of these upright persons alone, either St. Paul alone, Titus alone, or St. Luke alone, were sufficient to be entrusted alone with the distribution of this charity ; but the apostle did not know what a censorious world might say ? and therefore, to cut off all occasion, and to prevent all suspicion, he wisely appoints several persons to be witnesses of this action. If there be not in some cases overmuch caution, all is too little, and not enough.
23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 24 Wherefore show ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
Observe here, What pains the apostle takes to answer all cavils and objections that might hinder the free collection and regular distribution of this charity. Some might pretend, possibly, to say then, (as many amongst us do now,) " We know not into whose hands this charity-money may fall; we know not whether ever they shall be the better for it, for whom it was intended." Therefore, says St. Paul, if any make that objection, that they do not know Titus, and inquire after him, or his trustiness, tell them he is my coadjutor, my partner and fellow-helper in converting you to christianity ; and if the other two be inquired after, they are our brethren, the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ; that is, the instruments of his glory; therefore let these messengers see, and the churches which did depute them, the proof of your love to me and to the saints, and that I did not boast of your liberality in vain. Note here, The high honour which St. Paul puts upon the ministers of the gospel, in calling them the glory of Christ, that is , the glory of the gospel of Christ, the glory of the christian profession, the instruments of Christ's glory, by whom his honour and glory is greatly promoted; persons who by their exemplary gbrtousness did bring much honour and glory to Christ. This title I conceive shows both our dignity and duty; our dignity, in that Christ accounts us his glory when we are found faithful to him ; as the faithfulness of an ambassador redounds to the and honour of the prince that sends And it points out our duty, to promote the glory of Christ, to pray and endeavour that he would use us as instruments for the advancement of his glory; that as we glorify him on earth, he may glory in us, and be glorified by us, before his Father in heaven, and we be presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Amen.
The argument of thiaia the Mm with that of the foregoing chapters; namely, to excite the Corinthian, to a liberal and cheerful contribution towards the poor saints at Jerusalem, which were then under pressing necessities; and having laid ,event arguments before them to quicken them to the duty, he comes now to give directions concerning the right and acceptable performance of the duty, advising them to give liberally, because God had abundantly blessed and increased them; and cheerfully, because the Lord lovelh a cheerful giver.
J70R as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: 2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
Observe here, The holy art and skill of this wise and great apostle, in promoting forward, and putting on these Corinthians to, this work of pious charity: he insinuates their present forwardness, to provoke them to farther forwardness; he tells them, it was superfluous for him to use farther arguments with them; for their forwardness was known unto him, and boasted of by him, to the Macedonians, that the christians in Achaia (of which Corinth was the chief city) had made a proposal to supply the poor saints of Judea a year ago; and that their zeal therein had provoked very many to the like forwardness. It is very happy, when the ministers of Christ find their people forward and ready to every good work, to costly works of charity especially; yet it will be their wisdom, by commending their people for what they have done, to encourage them to do farther; not only for increasing their own reward, but for provoking many to do the like: I know the forwardness of your mind, and that your zeal hath provoked very many.
3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: 4 Lesf haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up before-hand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
As confident and fully persuaded as the apostle was of the readiness and willingness of mind that was found in the Corinthians towards this charitable contribution, yet he judgeth it both expedient and necessary to send the brethren before to them, to get all things ready, the collection finished and over; that so when he himself, and the Macedonians, should come to Corinth, he might not be put to blush for them, having made great boasts of their charity, but finding no deeds: and also he desires their collection may be ready, with respect to themselves, that so their beneficence may ap
peat to be their own free bounty, and not a collection difficultly extorted from them, as from covetous men, who give grudgingly and unwillingly. Note here, 1. That it is very lawful for the ministers of Christ to use an holy craft, and innocent guile, to draw men to a speedy compliance with their duty, sometimes by engaging their reputation in it, and sometimes alluring them by just praises to the doing of it. Tlius our apostle did here. Note, 2. That the readiness which St. Paul here presses them to, is not the readiness of the mind, but the readiness of the action: he was well satisfied, that they were ready in'their preparation of the mind long ago, but he presses them to finish the collection, of which he had so much boasted to the Macedonians. Note, 3. How the blessed apostle did consult the Corinthians' honour and reputation equally with his own, and was as desirous to prevent reflection upon them as upon himself: he would not have them ashamed, no more than himself, at his coming among them. Note, 4. That a liberal free-giving to the saints in distress, is called here \u9't Kal lvXoyia, grace and blessing; we translate it bounty. It is called grace, because an heart to give liberally is wrought in us by the grace of God; the world shuts up our hearts till God opens them; and if the heart be open, the hands will not be shut: and works of charity are a blessing of God with our substance, and the way and means to produce his blessing upon our substance. Giving to distressed saints in proportion to what God has given us, is by Almighty God accounted a blessing of him, and a blessing of our fellow-brethren: and whoever thus blesses God shall be blessed by him. Note, 5. That the Corinthians being a very rich and wealthy people, the apostle stirs them up to an abundant charity. Where God gives much, he expects much: but how many, alas, grudge God a little of his own ; and how difficultly is that little drawn from them, like drops of blood! Whereas to give alms purely to satisfy the importunity of others, or out of shame, misses of its reward before God.
6 But this / say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;
not grudgingly, or of necessity; fof God loveth a cheerful giver.
Here the apostle comes to direct the Corinthians how and after what manner they should give their alms, so as to secure a blessing, namely, deliberately. 1. As he purpose!h in his heart so let him give: as he determined and resolved within himself. When a christian gives, he must take care that it be his own act as much as be can. Some men give what they did never intend, and bestow what they did never choose or design to bestow. Importunity extorts charity from some; they give, to get rid of the noise, and purchase their quiet with their alms; whereas the liberal man devises liberal things, the good man lays by in store what he intends to bestow in alms. 2. Freely and bountifully ; For he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully: that is, he that giveth liberally to the poor, shall be rewarded liberally by God; no wise man will pinch his ground of the seed. The proportion, or how much every one should give, cannot be determined, because that must be measured according to the ability of him that giveth, and according to the necessity of him that receiveth. 3. Cheerfully, not grudgingly or of necessity: for tbe Lord loveth a cheerful giver. In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance, says the wise man; let us give with the same cheerfulness that we should receive, and be as willing to give as the needy are to receive; nay, it is our duty to seek out objects, for some of Christ's members have as great modesty as they have necessity, and cannot speak for themselves. And let none think that this liberality will prejudice their estates; no, 'tis men's lusts that undo them, and not their charity.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 0 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Here the apostle tacitly answers the common objection against liberal alms-giving; men are afraid they shall want themselves, what they give away to others. No, says the apostle, God is able to make all grace and mercy shown by you to abound the more towards you; that you, having a sufficiency of the comforts of this life, may abound us every good work of charity towards others. As if he had said, Be not afraid to give, nor sparing in giving; for hereby you make God your debtor, and you will find him an all-sufficient paymaster; be will repay you both in temporals and spirituals. Thou shall receive silver far thy brass, gold for thy silver, grace for thy gold, a treasure in heaven for thy dross on earth; nay, your gold and silver will aoftlp)y here, as seed sown when scattered with a wise and prudent hand." The sposlle here engages God's all-sufficiency far it; God will show his all-sufficiency, in giving you an all-sufficiency in all things; only we must remember, that we are to iHow tone; for Almighty God loves to be trosted upon bis word: and those that will aot give him credit, let them try if they can improve their estates better, or put them iato saler hands.
10 Now he that ministcreth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; 11 Being enriched ia every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Some look upon these words as a prayer, others ss a promise, that as Almighty God Messed the increase of the earth so largely, that it sufEceth for the nourishment of men, and for seed to sow again; in like manner would he supply all their wants, and grant them ability to supply the wants of others, usd plentifully reward them for all the fruits of their righteousness and mercy; and ibey being thus enriched by the goodness of God, and exercising all bountifulness towards their brethren, much thanksgiving sod praise upon that occasion is given unto God. In these last words is couched an srguroent farther to press the Corinthians t3 thts liberality; namely, that it would, came both the ministers of Christ, the dispeasers of this charity, and also the poor suu's, 1he receivers of it, to offer up incesaat praises and thanksgivings to God for it>s saroe
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of tbe saints, but is abundant also
by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 (Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;) 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Still our apostle proceeds, by way of motive, farther to excite and stir up the Cormthians to this charitable contribution, from sundry considerations; namely, 1st, That it would be a very seasonable supply to the church's wants, who were at this time in great want of it. Now the seasonableness of any mercy adds greatly to the worth and value, to the pleasure and sweetness, of it. 2dly, That it would occasion repeated praises and incessant thanksgivings to God, tor many persons, and upon many accounts. 3dly, This distribution of yours, says the apostle, will be a convincing experiment, evidence, and demonstration, of your professed subjection to the gospel, and that your faith is not barren and ineffectual. No better evidence of our real subjection to the gospel of Christ, than a cheerful compliance, not with the cheap, but with the costly duties of christianity. Lastly, For your alms, you will engage a stock of prayers going for you: this will procure, yea, provoke them to pray night and day" for you; nay, not only engage prayer for you, but it will also draw forth their love and fervent affection towards you, make them very desirous of your acquaintance, having received such an experiment of the grace of God that is in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Here the apostle concludes his discourse upon this great argument with a doxology, praising and blessing God for putting it into their hearts in so liberal a manner to relieve the necessities of the saints, by which so much glory did redound to God, and so much honour to the christian religion. This he calls not barely an admirable, but an unspeakable, gift; because a gift by which God was so much glorified, the gospel adorned, the poor saints so much comforted, and they themselves so plentifully rewarded: Thanh be to God for bis unspeakable gift. But if the Corinthi
ans' charity was an unspeakable gift, what was the gift of Christ t-- the gift of God to a lost world, to whom this title of unspeakable doth best agree: who is the author and finisher of all grace, and particularly of this noble grace of charity in the hearts of his people; for he sends his Holy Spirit, and pours into their hearts his most excellent grace of charity, the very bond of peace, and of all virtues, without which whosoever livcth is counted dead before him. Eternal thanks then be to Christ for this admirable gift of charity, and thanks be to God for the unspeakable gift of Christ. Amen.
Our apostle having in the former chapters, pleaded with the Corinthians on the behalf of the poor Christians in Judea, he comes in this chapter to plead for himself, and to vindicate his authority from the contempt cast upon it by the false a parties, who pretended to say, that when he was personally present, he was humble and mild; but when absent, severe and bold: thus unworthily interpreting his gentleness, condescension, and winning affability, to be no better than a fawning upon them for false ends. Wherefore he gives them, in this chapter, to understand, that he was well acquainted with their vilifying reflections and calumnies, which were both uoreasonabie and unjust, and that he resented them as such.
TVTOW I Paul myself beseech you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
Observe here, 1. The charge brought in unjustly against St. Paul by the false apostles j that when he was present with the Corinthians, he was low and humble enough, to some degree of baseness; but when absent, that then he writes like a lord to them, and exercises an authority with pride and imperiousness over them. The greatest apostle, no more than the meanest minister of Jesus Christ, cannot expect protection from slander and false accusation. Observe, 2. The pious and prudent course which the apostle takes for his own necessary and just vindication; he beseeches them, by all that meekness and gentleness which, according to the command and example of Christ, he desired to express towards them, firmly to believe that he de
sired nothing more than not to be forced to use his power with that boldness towards them, which he feared he must use against the false apostles, who accused him of too much servility and meanness in his behaviour amongst them, and reproached his ministry as carnal and self-seeking.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
That is, " Although I yet dwell in the body, and consequently am not free from human infirmities and weaknesses; yet neither my ministry nor my life are from fleshly principles, by fleshly means, nor for fleshly ends." The best and holiest of men in this life walk in the flesh; they are clothed with a mortal body, but they do not war after the flesh, they do not fight under the banner of corrupt nature. Here note, The christian life described; it is a warfare; We -war. It is a life of vigorous opposition. The christian has many enemies to conflict with, and to contend against, both outward and inward enemies: in a passive sense, he is a man of strife and contention; his hand is against many, and many hands against him. He doth manage a war for the flesh, but against the flesh j and in the next verse he tells us with what weapons he managed this war.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exaIteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Observe here, 1. That as the life of every christian is a continual warfare, so the ministers of the gospel are more eminently men of war; they fight against principalitics and powers; and the devil draws up his full strength to pull down the office of his ministry, which is erected for the pulling down the strong holds of him and his kingdom. Observe, 2. The weapons which these spiritual warriors, the ministers of the gospel, do make use of in their conflict and combat with sin and Satan: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. They are not carnal or fleshly weapons that we use, neither fraud nor flatleiyt nor force; but spiritual armour, with which