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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.

15. As it is written. The passage, that Paul quotes, refers to the manna, but let us hear what the Lord says by Moses. He would have this to serve as a never-failing proof, that men do not live by bread alone, but are Divinely supported, by the secret influence of His will, who maintains and preserves all things that he has created. Again, in another passage, (Deuteronomy 8:3,) Moses admonishes them, that they had been nourished for a time with such food, that they might learn that men are supported — not by their own industry or labor, but by the blessing of God. Hence it appears, that in the manna, as in a mirror, there is presented to us an emblem of the ordinary food that we partake of. Let us now come to the passage that Paul quotes. When the manna had fallen, they were commanded to gather it in heaps, so far as every one could, though at the same time, as some are more active than others, there was more gathered by some than was necessary for daily use, 681681     “Combien qu’aucuns en amassassent plus qu’il ne leur estoit de besoin pour la nourriture d’vn iour, et les autres moins (comme les vns sont plus habiles que les autres;)” — “Though some gathered more of it than was needed by them as the food of a day, and others less (as some are more expert than others).” yet no one took for his own private use more than an homer, 682682     “An omer was about three quarts English measure. It is inferred by some that, when any one had gathered more than his due share, he gave the overplus to those who had gathered less. Others, however, suppose that the whole quantity gathered by any one family was first put into a common mass, and then measured out to the several individuals composing the household.” — Bush’s Notes on Exodus.Ed. for that was the measure that was prescribed by the Lord. This being the case, all had as much as was sufficient, and no one was in want. This we have in Exodus 16:18

Let us now apply the history to Paul’s object. The Lord has not prescribed to us an homer, or any other measure, according to which the food of each day is to be regulated, but he has enjoined upon us frugality and temperance, and has forbidden, that any one should go to excess, taking advantage of his abundance. Let those, then, that have riches, whether they have been left by inheritance, or procured by industry and efforts, consider that their abundance was not intended to be laid out in intemperance or excess, but in relieving the necessities of the brethren. For whatever we have is manna, from whatever quarter it comes, provided it be really ours, inasmuch as riches acquired by fraud, and unlawful artifices, are unworthy to be called so, but are rather quails sent forth by the anger of God. (Numbers 11:31.) And as in the case of one hoarding the manna, either from excessive greed or from distrust, what was laid up immediately putrified, so we need not doubt that the riches, that are heaped up at the expense of our brethren, are accursed, and will soon perish, and that too, in connection with the ruin of the owner; so that we are not to think that it is the way to increase, if, consulting our own advantage for a long while to come, we defraud our poor brethren of the beneficence that we owe them. 683683     “Le secours et assistance;” — “The help and assistance.” I acknowledge, indeed, that there is not enjoined upon us an equality of such a kind, as to make it unlawful for the rich to live in any degree of greater elegance than the poor; but an equality is to be observed thus far — that no one is to be allowed to starve, and no one is to hoard his abundance at the expense of defrauding others. The poor man’s homer 684684     “L’homer, c’est a dire la mesure des poures;” — “The homer, that is to say, the measure of the poor.” will be coarse food and a spare diet; the rich man’s homer will be a more abundant portion, it is true, according to his circumstances, but at the same time in such a way that they live temperately, and are not wanting to others.

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