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8. Generosity Encouraged

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7Therefore, 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. 8I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10And 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. 11Now 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. 12For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. 16But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 18And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19And not that only, but who was 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: 20Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22And 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. 23Whether 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. 24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

10. And in this I give my advice. The advice he places in contrast with the commandment of which he had spoken a little before. (2 Corinthians 8:8.) “I merely point out what is expedient in the way of advising or admonishing.” Now this advantage is not perceived by the judgment of the flesh; for where is the man to be found, who is persuaded that it is of advantage to deprive himself of something with the view of helping others? It is, indeed, the saying of a heathen — “What you have given away is the only riches that you will always have; 671671     Calvin, it is to be observed, quotes the same sentiment, when commenting on 1 Corinthians 16:2, (see p. 69,) but in the present instance he takes occasion, most appropriately to his particular purpose, to notice the connection in which the poet introduces it, which is as follows: —
   “Callidus effracta nummos fur auferet arca;
Prosternet patrios impia flamma Lares.
Extra fortunam est, quicquid donatur amicis;
Quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes

   “The dexterous thief will break open your chest, and carry off your money; a fire, raised by a base incendiary, will lay in the dust your paternal mansion; but whatever has been given to friends is placed beyond all risk. What you have given away is the only wealth that you will always retain.” — MARTIAL, Ephesians 5:39-42.

   It is mentioned by Dr. Bennett, in his Lectures on Christ’s Preaching, (p. 104,) that on the tomb of Robert of Doncaster, there was the following inscription — “What I gave, I have; what I kept I lost.” — Ed.
but the reason is, that whatever is given to friends is placed beyond all risk.” The Lord, on the other hand, would not have us influenced by the hope of a reward, or of any remuneration in return, but, on the contrary, though men should be ungrateful, so that we may seem to have lost what we have given away, he would have us, not- withstanding, persevere in doing good. The advantage, however, arises from this — that

“He that giveth to the poor (as Solomon says in Proverbs 19:17) lendeth to the Lord,”

whose blessing, of itself, is to be regarded as a hundredfold more precious than all the treasures of the world. The word useful, however, is taken here to mean honorable, or at least Paul measures what is useful by what is honorable, because it would have been disgraceful to the Corinthians to draw back, or to stop short in the middle of the course, when they had already advanced so far. At the same time it would also have been useless, inasmuch as everything that they had attempted to do would have come short of acceptance in the sight of God.

Who had begun not only to do. As doing is more than willing, the expression may seem an improper one; but willing here is not taken simply, (as we commonly say,) but conveys the idea of spontaneous alacrity, that waits for no monitor. For there are three gradations, so to speak, as to acting. First, we sometimes act unwillingly, but it is from shame or fear. Secondly, we act willingly, but at the same time it is from being either impelled, or induced from influence, apart from our own minds. Thirdly, we act from the prompting of our own minds, when we of our own accord set ourselves to do what is becoming. Such cheerfulness of anticipation is better than the actual performance of the deed. 672672     “Vne telle promptitude de s’auancer a faire sans estre incite ou aduerti d’ailleurs, est plus que le faict mesme;” — “Such promptitude in being forward to act, without requiring to be stirred up or admonished by any one, is more than the deed itself”

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