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2 Corinthians 9:6-9

6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

6. Hoc autem (est): Qui sementem facit parce, is parce messurus est: et qui sementem facit in benedictionibus, 717717     “En benedictions, c’est a dire, a foison et abondamment, ou liberalement;” — “In blessings, that is to say, in plenty and abundantly, or liberally.” in benedictionibus 718718     “En benedictions, ou liberalement;” — “In blessings, or liberally.” etiam metet.

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.

7. Unusquisque secundum propositum cordis, non ex molestia aut necessitate: nam hilarem datorem diligit Deus.

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:

8. Potens est autem Deus efficere, ut tota gratia in vos exuberet: ut in omnibus omnem sufficientiam habentes, exuberetis in omne opus bonum.

9. (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

9. Quemadmodum scriptum est (Psalm 112:9): Dispersit, dedit pauperibus, iustitia eius manet in saeculum.

 

6. Now the case is this 719719     “Or ie di ceci;” — “Now this I say.” He now commends alms-giving by a beautiful similitude, comparing it to sowing. For in sowing, the seed is cast forth by the hand, is scattered upon the ground on this side and on that, is harrowed, and at length rots; and thus it seems as good as lost. The case is similar as to alms-giving. What goes from you to some other quarter seems as if it were, diminishing of what you have, but the season of harvest will come, when the fruit will be gathered. For as the Lord reckons every thing that is laid out upon the poor as given to himself, so he afterwards requites it with large interest. (Proverbs 19:17.)

Now for Paul’s similitude. He that sows sparingly will have a poor harvest, corresponding to the sowing: he that sows bountifully and with a full hand, will reap a correspondingly bountiful harvest. Let this doctrine be deeply rooted in our minds, that, whenever carnal reason keeps us back from doing good through fear of loss, we may immediately defend ourselves with this shield — “But the Lord declares that we are sowing.” The harvest, however, should be explained as referring to the spiritual recompense of eternal life, as well as to earthly blessings, which God confers upon the beneficent. For God requites, not only in heaven, but also in this world, the beneficence of believers. Hence it is as though he had said, “The more beneficent you are to your neighbors, you will find the blessing of God so much the more abundantly poured out upon you.” He again contrasts here blessing with sparing, as he had previously done with niggardliness. Hence it appears, that it is taken to mean — a large and bountiful liberality.

7 Every one according to the purpose of his heart. As he had enjoined it upon them to give liberally, this, also, required to be added — that liberality is estimated by God, not so much from the sum, as from the disposition. He was desirous, it is true, to induce them to give largely, in order that the brethren might be the more abundantly aided; but he had no wish to extort any thing from them against their will. Hence he exhorts them to give willingly, whatever they might be prepared to give. He places purpose of heart in contrast with regret and constraint. For what we do, when compelled by necessity, is not done by us with purpose of heart, but with reluctance. 720720     Auec regret et tristesse;” — “With regret and sadness.” Now the necessity meant you must understand to be what is extrinsic, as it is called — that is, what springs from the influence of others. For we obey God, because it is necessary, and yet we do it willingly. We ourselves, accordingly, in that case impose a necessity of our own accord, and because the flesh is reluctant, we often even constrain ourselves to perform a duty that is necessary for us. But, when we are constrained from the influence of others, having in the mean time an inclination to avoid it, if by any means we could, we do nothing in that case with alacrity — nothing with cheerfulness, but every thing with reluctance or constraint of mind.

For God loveth a cheerful giver He calls us back to God, as I said in the outset, for alms are a sacrifice. Now no sacrifice is pleasing to God, if it is not voluntary. For when he teaches us, that God loveth a cheerful giver, he intimates that, on the other hand, the niggardly and reluctant are loathed by Him. For He does not wish to lord it over us, in the manner of a tyrant, but, as He acts towards us as a Father, so he requires from us the cheerful obedience of children. 721721     “Vne obeissance filiale, qui soit prompte et franche;” — “A filial obedience, which is prompt and cheerful.”

8. And God is able Again he provides against the base thought, which our infidelity constantly suggests to us. “What! will you not rather have a regard to your own interest? Do you not consider, that when this is taken away, there will be so much the less left for yourself?” With the view of driving away this, Paul arms us with a choice promise — that whatever we give away will turn out to our advantage. I have said already, that we are by nature excessively niggardly — because we are prone to distrust, which tempts every one to retain with eager grasp what belongs to him. For correcting this fault, we must lay hold of this promise — that those that do good to the poor do no less provide for their own interests than if they were watering their lands. For by alms-givings, like so many canals, they make the blessing of God flow forth towards themselves, so as to be enriched by it. What Paul means is this: “Such liberality will deprive you of nothing, but God will make it return to you in much greater abundance.” For he speaks of the power of God, not as the Poets do, but after the manner of Scripture, which ascribes to him a power put forth in action, the present efficacy of which we ourselves feel — not any inactive power that we merely imagine.

That having all sufficiency in all things He mentions a twofold advantage arising from that grace, which he had promised to the Corinthians — that they should have what is enough for themselves, and would have something over and above for doing good. By the term sufficiency he points out the measure which the Lord knows to be useful for us, for it is not always profitable for us, to be filled to satiety. The Lord therefore, ministers to us according to the measure of our advantage, sometimes more, sometimes less, but in such a way that we are satisfied — which is much more, than if one had the whole world to luxuriate upon. In this sufficiency we must abound, for the purpose of doing good to others, for the reason why God does us good is — not that every one may keep to himself what he has received, but that there may be a mutual participation among us, according as necessity may require.

9. As it is written, He hath dispersed He brings forward a proof from Psalms 112:9, where, along with other excellencies of the pious man, the Prophet mentions this, too, — that he will not be wanting in doing good, but as water flows forth incessantly from a perennial fountain, so the gushing forth of his liberality will be unceasing. Paul has an eye to this — that we be not weary in well doing, (Galatians 6:9,) and this is also what the Prophet’s words mean. 722722     “Our author, when commenting on the passage here referred to, remarks: “This passage is quoted by Paul, (2 Corinthians 9:9,) in which he informs us, that it is an easy matter for God to bless us with plenty, so that we may exercise our bounty freely, deliberately, and impartially, and this accords best with the design of the Prophet.” — Calvin on the Psalms, vol. 4, p. 329. — Ed.


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