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This Chapter is not unsimilar to the former. It treats principally of Alms-giving. But Paul sweetly closeth it, in blessing God, for the first, and best, and comprehensive Mercy of all Alms-giving, in God's unspeakable Gift, in, and by, Christ.
(1) For 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. (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) Lest 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 beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
Paul useth the best of all arguments, to recommend every species of charity, both in this, and all his Epistles; namely, the relationship between Christ and his people. And very certain it is, that where the love of Christ is shed abroad in the heart, the streams of it will diffuse itself to all his members. And indeed, the charity, or love, which doth not begin in this source, hath no security for any continuance. And, even in the time that it flows, as it riseth only in creature affection, it is the subject only of what is fickle, and momentary; and either soon dries up of itself, or is stopped by caprice, or the changeableness of the human mind. It is only that love which begins in God, which is kept alive in communications from God; and being chiefly directed to his glory, hath a spring to depend upon for its continuance towards God's people forever!
(6) But this I 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: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (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: (9) (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever. (10) Now he that ministereth 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 in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. (12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; (13) While 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.
I should not have detained the Reader over those verses, but to remark to him, what the Apostle here saith of God's grace! He is able to make all grace abound. A sweet thought, everlastingly to be kept in remembrance. All grace, and every sort and kind of grace. So that whatever grace a child of God wants, through all the time-state of his continuance here below, while grace is needful; and until it becomes no longer necessary in being swallowed up in glory: God is able to make abound. And what tends to endear it still more is the assurance, that He who is able to make all grace abound, hath engaged in Covenant faithfulness, to do so. My God (saith Paul) shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19 . Reader! pause over this sweet account. Let a child of God, conscious of his adoption-character, feel his wants ever so great, or many; let his exercises be what they may; temptations from without, fears within, and everything around, dark, and discouraging: this one assurance removes all If a Covenant God can supply all our need, and make all grace abound; what shall arise to counteract such a resource? His grace must exceed all our wants; and his ability infinitely outstretch all our necessities. So that here is enough to rest upon, and to rely in, for every emergency. Oh! for grace then, from the God of all grace, to believe, and trust God, for every occasion. Our need affords occasion for his supply. And his power and disposition to help, outruns, and exceeds all our wants. What a multitude of promises we have to this one point, Isaiah 43:1 &c; Luke 12:27-32 ; Isaiah 25:4 .
(15) Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
I have judged it proper to consider this verse alone, and unconnected with every other, from the very great sweetness, and importance of it. For, in whatever point of view the Apostle meant it, the beauty and loveliness is the same. It is probable, that he intended it by way of enforcing, upon higher principles than he had before mentioned, the charity he was recommending to the Corinthian Church. And to be sure, it doth form the highest, and the best of all arguments; the unequalled, and unspeakable love of God, in the gift of his dear Son. For who that properly considers, the free, unmerited, unlooked for, gift of Christ, in all his suitableness, seasonableness, and preciousness, and, lives in the enjoyment of Christ, and his fulness, and all-sufficiency; could pause a moment, from flying to the relief of all Christ's distressed members, wherever he heard of them, or met them?
But after paying all due respect on this ground, to the words of the Apostle, I would beg to consider them, on a point of infinitely higher moment. In what sense soever is meant this unspeakable gift: whether Christ, or the Holy Ghost, in either, or in both, the doctrine is most blessed. Some have conceived that by the unspeakable gift, Christ is understood: and some have thought that it is the Holy Spirit which is meant.
If we suppose Christ, as Christ, and as the gift of God every sense the mercy is so great, that it may well be called unspeakable. For the infinite dignity of his Person, and the infinite cause for which he is given; all the vast concerns involved in this gift, first before the world was formed, then during the whole of the present time-state of the Church; and, lastly, the eternal world which follows, and in which, all those immense purposes, for which Christ was given to the Church, and the Church to Christ, are to be accomplished: in whatever way the subject he considered, every child of God, in contemplating Christ, finds reason to join the Apostle, and cry out: now thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
And there is another view, which tends to enhance this gift, and render it unspeakably more dear and precious: I mean, in that it was given freely, without any one motive, moving the infinite mind of Jehovah to be thus gracious, but his own sovereign will, and from his own everlasting love. So, far were the highly objects of this unspeakable mercy from seeking it, or even from knowing that they needed it, that they were altogether ignorant, both of the Gift, and the Giver. And therefore, in the contemplation of God the Father's love, in such unequalled proofs of it, as the free, full, and never to be recalled gift of his dear Son, with all the glorious purposes contained in it; every motive compels them to be unceasingly engaged, in praising God for his unspeakable gift.
And if God, the Holy Ghost in his office-character be supposed as implied in this unspeakable mercy; there is no less reason for admiring, adoring, and giving praise to God, for such a token of divine love.
When I speak of God the Holy Ghost as the gift of God, I beg to be clearly understood, as speaking upon Scriptural grounds, and by Scriptural authority. There is a gift of his Person, and a gift of his graces, in his office-character in the Covenant of grace. But this must never be understood, as lessening in our view the infinite glories of the Person of the Holy Ghost, in his own eternal power, and Godhead. In the essential glories of the Godhead, all the Persons are equal, in every point, which can distinguish the divine nature. Distinguished only by their personalities, they are One, in essence, will, power, and in all the sovereignty which constitutes Godhead. They are the Three which bear record in Heaven; and which three are One. Such is the unity of the divine nature, 1 John 5:7 ; Deuteronomy 4:0 .
And in relation to the account given to the Church in Scripture, concerning them; they are equally proposed to us in all the revelations of the sacred word, as entitled to the joint love, adoration, obedience, and praise, of all their creatures. Hence, they have in Covenant engagements, entered into certain offices, by which they are pleased to be made known to the Church, in the accomplishment of those grand purposes, from all eternity designed. God the Father's office-character is represented, as choosing the Church in Christ, giving the Church to Christ, accepting the Church in Christ, and everlastingly blessing the Church in Christ, with all suited blessings, of grace here, and glory to all eternity. Hence in this office-character, Christ is said to be sent of the Father, to be the Savior of the world; 1 John 4:14 . And in like manner, the Holy Ghost is said to be the gift of God the Father, in, and through, Christ, Hence Jesus, when speaking to his disciples on the coming of the Holy Ghost, said: the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, John 14:26 . And in the same discourse, the Lord Jesus speaks of the Holy Ghost being sent to them by himself. It is expedient for you, (said Jesus) that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you, John 16:7 . But in both instances it is plain, from the dignity of God the Holy Ones; in his own Person, eternal nature and Godhead, which he possesseth in common with the Father and the Son; that these things refer to the office-character, which in the Covenant of grace, God the Holy Ghost hath entered into, and engaged for: and not as if implying any inferiority, in his Almighty Person, and Godhead.
If in this sense, the Apostle meant the Holy Ghost, as the unspeakable gift of God; the Lord the Spirit is indeed unspeakably precious, in all that relates to his office-character and relation. And the Reader as well as the Writer, of this Poor Man's Commentary, if so be he hath partaken in His manifold gifts, and graces; may well join Paul in the same short, but expressive hymn of praise, and say Thanks be unto God for his Unspeakable gift!
It will be a blessed improvement from this Chapter, Under the Lord's teaching, to learn, while Paul is speaking of alms-deeds, and liberality to the poor; how pure that source of real charity is, which runs from God, and leads to God. What an astonishment would it induce in the minds of some men, if they were told, that as no alms-giving whatever is real charity, unless it ariseth, as a stream doth from a fountain, from the love of God; the numberless public charities as they are called, which have not this origin for their birth, cease to be real charities; and will be found more the effect of pride, and ostentation, than either intended for divine glory, or human happiness. If all the actions of men on the score of charity, were ascertained by this standard, what a draw-back would be found, in the calculations of self-righteous Pharisees, of their real state before God? Reader! do attend to the Apostle's character of the love of the heart, in that which comes from God, and leads to God. God loveth a cheerful giver. Not simply self-delight, in the deed; for this is often the choicest fruit the self-righteous character gathers, from his charity, in the offering made to the shrine of his vanity: but a cheerful giver to the Lord, of his own bounty, as the Lord's Almoner. Cheerful in seeing the Lord's poor, fed from the Lord's gifts; in which self hath no gratification of pride, but feels humility. Here it is, the cup of cold water becomes a precious gift. And the hundreds of the affluent, given without it, hath no value in the sight of God.
But, Reader! if things be so, think what a gift was, and is, that which flowed, and will forever be flowing, from the free, pure, disinterested love of God, in the gift of his dear Son? Think, what a sovereign, unlooked-for, boundless, bottomless mercy, in the gift of God the Spirit! Oh! for grace to have a right apprehension, of this unspeakable gift!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter