THE LECTVRES OF SAMVEL BIRD OF IPSWIDGE VPON the 8. and 9. chap­ ters of the second E­pistle to the Co­ rinthians.

Printed by Iohn Legate, Prin­ ter to the Vniversitie of Cambridge. 1598

‘HONI SOIT QVI MAL Y PENSE’

❧ TO THE VVORSHIPFVLL Mis. MOORE AT TAL­ mage Hall in Briset.

THe motherly affection that you haue borne to­wardes many, and to­wardes my selfe (good Mis. Moore) puts me out of all doubt, that this speach of bounti­fulnes and liberalitie shal finde good enter­tainement at your hands. And I the more willingly commend these my labours vn­to you, because of the blessed memorie of your good husband M. Moore, vnto whose doings the Lord hath set a most vi­sible seale, by that blessing wherewith he hath blessed your children. For whereas commonly the kindred, especially the chil­dren, are woont to coole the liberalitie of bountifull persons, yet it hath pleased God so to blesse your children, that they haue [Page] rather strengthened your handes in this worke. This speach may perhaps seeme to some to haue some cunning in it. But bee­ing priuie to my selfe of my simplicitie in this matter, and knowing that the Apo­stle doth for the like respect make an open proclamation to all the world of the boun­tifulnes of the Macedonian Churches, I haue thereby beene encouraged to say as I haue said. Thus desiring the Lord to strēg­then you in euery good dutie, and nothing doubting but that the God of all mercie which hath promised to shew mercie to the mercifull, will most assuredly comfort you in any distresse of sicknes, or any other trouble that your old yeares may bring in vpō you, especially at the great day, 2. Tim. 1. 18. with thankes for all your friendship, I heartily wish you well to fare in the Lord.

1597. Decemb. 16.
Samuel Bird.

To the Christian Reader.

TO the ende, good Christian Reader, thou mightest see the strong argu­ments and the great varietie of thē which the Apostle doth vse in this treatise of liberalitie and beuntifulnes, I thought it good first of all to Epitomise and to anato­mise these two chapters: and as it were in a glasse first generally to set them before thine eyes, before I come to the particular handling of them. For how soeuer coloured and rhetoricall brauerie as paintings loose their grace, vnlesse they be looked vpon a fare off: for after the sound of them, if a man would call to minde what is the sub­stance of that which he hath heard, if a man in this manner shall come any thing neare to take a good view and survay of any such speach, and shall looke vpon the ioynts of it, the force thereof is gone. On the other side toward sound arguments the nearer that a man approcheth vnto thē, the more migh­tie [Page] are they to allure the beholder to a li­king of them. The second sight of them plea­seth a man better then the first.

2. Corinth. chap. 8.

Vers. 1. First therefore the Apostle doth mooue the Corinthians from the great worke and grace of God bestowed vpon the Macedonian Churches.

2 Who notwithstanding they were in affliction and in great pouertie, in which kinde of estate men commonly thinke that they are to be borne withall though they doe not thinke vpon the poore estate of o­ther men, yet euen in this poore estate they releeued their brethren.

3 And that more then their estate with ease could beare.

4 Neither did they tarrie vntill they were haled thereunto by the perswasion of other men: but of their owne accord they offered, and that with great intreatie that their reliefe for these poore men, who notwithstanding their diuers infirmities, [Page] were yet the Saints of God, vpon whome all our delight should be set. They desired therefore that their reliefe for them might be receiued.

5 Thus was their bountifulnes euen be­yond our exspectation, neither were they thus liberall to be fauoured by the vertue thereof in some corruption, as some haue beene, which would giue riuers of oyle that they might be dispensed withall in their sinnes. But they resigned euen them­selues to the will of God.

6 Neither did they content themselues with that that they were hardly able to giue, but they mooued others also to doe this dutie.

7 Wherefore, Oye Corinthians, to the intent that no disgrace may arise to that knowledge, and faith, and diligence that is in you, let not this grace be wan­ting.

8 Though it be the commandement of God that you should giue, yet that this du­tie may come more willingly from you, I haue thought it good therefore rather to [Page] allure you thereunto by the examples of o­thers.

9 If a man shal thinke that the poore are not such worthy men, that for their sake a man should diminish that which he hath: howe much more then might Christ our Lord haue so thought.

10 If you shall performe this duty, you shall haue this comfort, that it was a thinge done by aduise and counsell: and therefore you may be bold to venture vpon it, being such a duty as you your selues also are alre­dy perswaded that it ought to be done.

11 I would haue you to consider, that when you haue purposed to do this thing, yet it is not therfore done except you stirre vp your selues anew to the doing of it.

12 As for the charges of house-keeping or any such matter, neuer obiect it, for god only requires that we should giue of that which we haue.

13 The Lord his meaning is, not that we should giue vnto those that haue lesse neede then our selues.

14 But that they in like manner, should [Page] giue vnto you, when you haue neede to be releeued by them.

15 That there might be equality, and all indifferency vsed that may be.

16 You may see that god his meaning is, that you shoud giue, in that he hath ray­sed vp such an excellent man, to mooue you to this duty.

17 For he was quickly mooued euen of his owne accord, to performe that duty, that is wont to be accounted so thankeles: whereby you may vnderstād what a good forwardnesse he hoped for at your hands.

18 It should be a meanes to make you giue more liberally, because you see that the collectours are excellent men, and will most certenly deliuer that which you shall giue.

19 For how much you doe detract frō giuing: so much doe you detract from the glory of god, that is, to be magnified in the fidellity of those men: and so much the fur­ther of also are you, from shewing a ready minde, hauing such incouragements to go by. For by the greatnes of those that goe [Page] vpon this embassage, you may well thinke that the matter is great that is to be delt in.

20 21 The manner also of the dealing of these men, in the deliuery of that they are put in trust with all: is such as none may doubt of their fidellitie in this busines.

22 The diligence also that they will vse, beeing incouraged therevnto, by the good hope that they conceiue of you, should not a little mooue you.

23 In that Titus was such a one, as the Apostle thought to be a meete man to be his companion, and fellow helper, in that great worke of the ministerie. And that to­wards themselues, which had so good ex­perience of him: no man therfore needeth to doubt of his fidellitie in this busines. As for the other two brethren, they were the messengers, not of particular men, but of the whole churches.

24 He doth therefore infer vpon his former speech, that that which was done before them, was done before al the chur­ches, whose messengers they were: who are euen the glory of Christ.

2. Corinth. chap. 9.

If there were not some other speciall oc­casion, it were superfluous for me to write vnto you touching ministering to the saints.

2 For the redines of your minde this way is such, that I boast my selfe of your preparation, (& that so long agoe) to those of Macedonia, & this your zeale hath pro­uoked many.

3 4 But yet lest those, to whome I haue so much boasted of you, should at their cō ­ming (to your and my further shame) finde you vnprepared: to prevent this great in­convenience, I haue sent the brethren to giue you knowledge of this thing before they come.

5 That you may finish your benevolēce, lest it being to be finished at their cōming, they should account you a sparing and not a forward people.

6 Remember therefore that your bene­volence, is as seed which is not lost when it is throwne into the ground; but the lesse you sow, the lesse crop shall you haue: and [Page] the more you sowe, the more plentiful wil your haruest be.

7 Alwaies provided, that the manner of your sowing be with purpose of heart, and not onely to avoide the hard opinion that those of Macedonia might otherwise haue of you, for God requires of you that it should be your owne wil & your owne deede.

8 Neither be you afraid if you be boū ­tifull, that then you shall never hold out in this duty, for God that hath giuen you a promise, is able also to performe it.

9 For there is a generall proclamation of this mercy, to all that will performe this duty.

10 And we haue a pledge of this his fa­uour, in that he blesseth the sowing of the husbandmā: so that thereby he hath wher­withall to maintaine his family, and also to sowe againe (and that more plentifully) the next yeere after, he that doth the one will also performe the other.

11 That thereby you might be made rich in the best thing, euen in the liberality [Page] which being practised towardes a people, that by the preaching of the Gospell haue learned whome to thanke for it, god also by this meanes may haue that honour that is due vnto him.

12 For this sacrifice (as I may tearme it) is not onely not a wasting in vaine of the things that we haue, beeing bestowed where neede is, and fitting the necessities of those that are euen our owne flesh; but God also thereby hath that duty perfor­med vnto him, euen the duty of thankeful­nes, that of all duties he doth most highly account of: and that not also by a fewe but by many.

13 Howsoeuer god accepteth very well of thankes for euery of his common mer­cies, yet when his great gift of humbling any vnto the Gospel is acknowledged, be­cause the world doth not make any re­ckoning of it: this thankefulnes is accepta­ble vnto God in the highest degre. Seeing therefore that thankes this waies shall be giuen vnto God by meanes of our boū ­tifulnesse, which beeing giuen in this man­ner [Page] is a token of the submitting of you selues therevnto. If any thing, then this thing should incourage you vnto this duty. Besides this God shall also haue thanke for the good that redoundes thereby euen vn­to the bodies of men.

14 In respect of your selues, also your releife shal be to great purpose, for the lord hath put a blessing into the handes of afflicted persons, to bestow vpon those that doe releeue thē. And those that of all men cā do most with God shal pray for you. Besides this to haue good men long to be in our company, to delight to heate of vs, i [...] is a greater blessing then we take it to be, which notwithstanding shal come to passe by meanes of this duty.

15 I am not able to expresse the excellency of the great gift of God, when he openeth mens hearts to releeue their poore brethren: and I nothing doubt, but that God will worke this great thing in you. And therefore thankes be vnto God so this vspeakable gift.

THE LECTVRES OF SAMVEL BIRD VP­on the 8. and 9. chapters of the second epistle to the Corinthians.

1 We doe you also to wit brethren, of the grace of God bestowed vpon the Churches of Maceaonia.

2 Because in great triall of affliction their ioy abounded, and their most ex­treame pouertie abounded vnto their rich liberalitie.

3 For to their power I beare record, yea and beyond their power they vvere vvil­ling.

4 And praied vs vvith great instance that we would receiue the grace & fellow­ship of the ministring which is towards the Saints.

1 THe scarsitie of all things ha­uing beene so long time vpon our lande, as our fathers neuer knew the like, it must needes be a very necessarie doctrine that shall af­foard vs helpe and comfort against it: espe­cially if we consider how acceptable a ser­uice the relieuing of our brethren will be at that time when we would most gladly be comforted. For though the Lord in mercie will reward euery good worke of his seruants, yet by a certaine kinde of ex­cellencie the relieuing of the poore mem­bers of Christ Iesus is in a most speciall manner remembred, Matth. 25. Because therefore the holy Ghost hath set downe his will vnto vs more fully and particular­ly touching this dutie then in any one place of the whole Bible throughout: ha­uing purposed through the assistance of God his grace to speake of the doctrine of reliefe, I thought it good to make choise of this portion of scripture. In these two chapters the Apostle goeth forwarde to take vp the handling of those things that [Page] he had mentioned in his first epistle & the last chapter, the beginning of the chapter: & this was the occasion of his speech. The prophet Agabus tould of a famine that should be throughout all the world, by meanes whereof the poore churches of Ierusalem were in great danger of perish­ing, if they were not greatly releeued: wherevpon the Apostle tooke order that the Gentiles might be mooued to contri­bute vnto them. Act. 11. 28. Gal. 2. 10. The Apostle therefore hauing mooued the Corinthians in this matter, 1. Cor. 16. 1. and finding them not so forward as was to be wished, he prouokes them againe vnto this duty, with a large exhortation, & with many arguments. 1 And because exāples are of great force to drawe men vnto du­ty, he therefore certifieth them what the poore churches of Macedonia had done in this matter; by the which practise of the A­postle, we are taught this lesson: namely, that when we vnderstand of any, that haue dealt liberally and bountifully with their poore brethren in these hard times, that [Page] we should be talking to them of this mat­ter, for it is a forcible motiue to mooue them to this dutie. When the commaun­dement of giuing is onely stood vpon, an­swer is woont to be made, that we should doe so. But who doth it? when therefore we bring forth the parties that haue done so, that shift is taken away. The argument that the Apostle doth here vse is of very great force, in so much that when no other argument will preuaile, this is thought meete euen then to perswade, Rom. 11. 14. when the Iewes had reiected the Gospell. The Apostle thought that the telling of them that the Gentiles had receiued it, would be of force to recouer them againe. And to speak more particularly cōcerning this present dutie; Salomon when he will mooue euen the hard hearted vsurer to leaue off his hard dealing, and to be merci­full to the poore, he vseth no other reason but this that the Apostle hath here, Prov. 28. 8. namely to prouoke him by the exam­ple of others: He, saith Salomon, that en­creaseth his riches by vsurie and interest, [Page 5] gathereth them for him that will be mer­cifull to the poore. The vsurer hath no such meaning that his goods should be so em­ploied, but Salomon tells him that it will fall out so. And it were better that he him­selfe should bestowe his goods well, then that others should doe it when it shall be no thanke to him. If it should mooue the vsurer when he is tolde what will fall out hereafter, when men therefore be tolde what hath beene done alreadie, it should much more affect them. Men commonly are wont to certifie their neighbours of the estate of those that purchase and grow in wealth: but this is a meanes to worke enuie in them, and to mooue them to the like worldlines. The certificate that is here spoken of, is a thousand times better: for it raiseth vp the affections of men to the loue of mercie. We are also further to note out of the first verse, that the Apostle doth account it a benefite to the giuer that he doth giue. For the Saints of Ierusalem were the men that were relieued, yet the Apostle saith, I certifie you of the grace or [Page 6] gift of God bestowed vpon the churches of Macedonia that were the giuers. And this is agreeable to that saying of our Saui­our Christ, It is an happier thing to giue then to receiue, Act. 20. 35. And Paul con­firmeth this matter, Philip. 4. 17. when he telleth them that he was desirous to haue them bountifull, not saith he, that I desire a gift: but I desire the fruit that may further your reckning. The spech that the Apostle doth vse is borrowed from the practise of such as vse traffique one with an other in this world. As he that vttereth wares to a­ny chappeman, the more he vttereth the greater will his gaine be in the account when he comes to reckon: so is it in this matter. Men commonly account it a bur­den, a losse and an hindrance, but the Apo­stle calleth it a grace and a gift, that poore mē should giue as they did. If men had had the inditing of this storie, they would one­ly haue told vs what a great gift the Saints of Ierusalē receiued of the Macedonians: but to haue written thus, I doe you to wit concerning the grace of God bestowed [Page 7] vpon the Churches of the Macedonians: it would neuer haue come into their heade but we are taught to acquaint our mouths with such speaches. Besides other reasons if it be considered that in the fearefull fall of many, it is vsed as an argument to assure men that they are not of that number when they are bountifull to the Saints of God, Hebr. 6. 9. and 10. we shall then see that not without cause it is called a grace or a gift. 2 He doth nowe tell vs what that grace was that was bestowed vpon them, namely that though they were in af­fliction, yet were they not oppressed ther­with, but had faith in the Lord, and reioy­ced in him with ioy of others, opened their hearts to giue plentifully of that lit­tle which they had vnto their brethren. By reioycing in God, they prouided very well for themselues in their affliction a­gainst worldy sorrow; for as in the bodie, cold diseases are healed by hot things: so in the soule, worldly griefe is healed by godly ioy. If men in their troubles would reioice in the Lord, they would not then thinke [Page 8] other things, health, wealth, liberty, or any other worldly commodity so delightfull: that for the want thereof they would fret against God. And if mē will examine whē they are ouertaken of fretting, they shall finde that at that time they did not reioice in the Lord, that they did not delight in his word, musing much vpon his faithful pro­mises, vntil they were delighted therwith. A man cannot be alwaies in griefe, and we would gladly delight in something: if not in God, then in worldly matters, which when we see that we haue not, then we fret; and here we see a difference betweene spirituall and fleshly ioy. The one, if any thing falls out otherwise then well, the life of it is cleane takē away: the other though it be hindred with troubles yet it still re­maineth. The ioy that he speakes of was in the Lord, which alwaies remaineth good and gratious vnto his seruants, to minister matter of reioycing vnto them. Phillip. 4. 4. The reioycing in trouble, and their boū ­tifulnesse are both ioyned together, & are made one and the same grace: for whē the [Page 9] heart is bent to bestowe any thing, there is ioy, the heart is opened and inlarged. On the other side, when the heart is oppressed with griefe, it is so pēt vp that it is nothing ready to any duty. Hebr. 12. 12. Lift vp your weake handes & your weake knees saith the Apostle. The wicked by buisiyng them­selues about other matters, labour to a­uoid the sence of euil, with sporting them­selues, and by driuing away phansies as they say: but the godly euen from the af­fliction gather matter of cōfort; The Lord will doe me good euē for this mans railing, saith the Prophet, 2. Sam. 16. They cōfort thēselues with this, that whome the Lord doth loue, he doth chastice. When men are in trouble, they thinke that they are to be borne withall though they minde no mans matters but their owne: but where­fore doe you looke so sad, saith Ioseph, to those that were in prison, Gen. 40. 7. And Paul a prisoner writeth comfortably for Onesimus. And the Macedonians in affli­ctions comforted and relieued the poore Saints of Ierusalem. 3 By saying that [Page 10] they gaue aboue their strength, his mea­ning is, not that they gaue so that they were forced to take of others, as may ap­peare in the 12. verse: for that were to rob Peter and to pay Paul. But this his meaning is, that besides giuing as much as they were able: they wished also that they could giue more; for as in strait hearted men, their wil is not so large as their gift, though it be but a little that they doe giue. So in open hear­ted men, though they giue as much as they are able, yet is their desire to doe good, larger then the gift: they are so mindeful to pleasure the party whome they loue, that they forget themselues, 1. Cor. 13. 5. The A­postle doth offer himselfe to be a witnesse to testify in this matter. He no doubt, required of their estate, that he might be a­ble to testifie: otherwise the Corinthes might haue obiected, that euery man, euen those that haue mony enough, when any good bargaine is offered; yet when there is any speech of giuing, they will then be accounted poore men. The Apostle saith, that he cā testify that it was not so with the [Page 11] Macedonians. And we are to obserue, that although other Churches did contribute as well as those of Macedonia, as namely the Galatians, 1. Cor. 16. 1. and the Romans, Rom. 1. 5. 26. yet because those of Macedo­nia (though poore) were forwarder then the rest, therefore doth he make choice of propounding their example both to the Corinths, and also to the Romanes: for the Lord looketh not to the greatnes of the gift, but to the greatnes of the affection, which cannot be great in a rich man ex­cept he giueth very much. And therefore the Apostle doth not speake of the quanti­tie of money which they gaue, but he pro­poundeth vnto them their giuing aboue their strength, that thereby he might raise vp the like bountifull affections among the Corinthians. 4 Their readines in giuing is further commended: for they did not stay vntill they were intreated, but they offer and that earnestly their liberalitie be­fore they were intreated. The common manner is to thinke that men haue neede when they begge, or some others make [Page 12] request in their behalfe, but these men saw that the Church of Ierusalem could not choose but want, without any admoniti­on. This forcing of men to goe a begging is a very disorderly course: for those that haue least neede will be forwardest in beg­ging: and therefore he that will not labour let him not eate, saith the Apostle. On the other side, many will be in very great ex­tremitie before they will begge. This for­cing of men to aske is a shaming of them, nay it is a shaming of a man when another beggeth for him in his presence. For if a man be ashamed when a man must bring forth his owne meate, beeing but a poore diet, and eate it in the presence of those that haue a more liberall diet before them, 1. Cor. 11. 22. then is it a shame to begge o­ther mens meate. The relieuing of wid­dowes is called an honouring of them, 1. Tim. 5. when we account them worthie to be relieued: but shaming and honou­ring of them cannot stand together. That reliefe is most acceptable vnto God, that is most comfortable to the parties that be re­lieued: [Page 13] but giuing without begging is most comfortable: therefore that must needs be most acceptable. A man his friend may doe many things for another which himselfe may not so well doe, amongst which things this that is here spoken of, is one of them. In that the Macedonians did offer so earnestly before the Apostle would take it, it may appeare that though the Apostle would faine haue the poore relieued, yet he was warie & circumspect of whome he did take it; so that all that is offered, must not be taken neither for our selues nor for others, but consideration must be had what is conuenient. When Absolon bad Dauid to a feast he refused to goe, 2. Sam. 13. 25. for feare of beeing ouer­chargeable: for when inferiours inuite their superiours in a brauerie, they are wont to be aboue measure in their proui­sion: Dauid therefore would giue no en­couragement to any such course. Other­wise except there be some speciall occa­sion, there is want of loue in it. And therefore the Apostle doth make an a­pologie [Page 14] in his owne defence, when he refuseth the kindnesse of the Corinthes, 2. Cor. 11. 11. The cause wherefore he doth not receiue the liberality of the Macedoni­ans, before it was forced vpon him with great intreaty was, because of their poore estate. Other causes also there may be of this refusall, as namely when a man seeth that the party that offers the gift, his other behauiour is not answerable and sutable to this pretented kindnes: but that he seeketh thereby to insult vpon his brother, and to giue him to vnderstand thereby, that he is able to bestowe somewhat vpon him. When a man by receiuing a gift, shall a­bridge himselfe of that liberty that it is meete a man should haue in his dealings & conuersation with him, then a man is to giue no allowance to any such matter, as may appeare by the example of Abraham, Gen. 14. 23. For it is al one as if a mā should sell his birth right for a messe of pottage. It falls out sometimes that when a man is to deale with a chapman, he will bidde him to dinner, but he will make him pay deere­ly [Page 15] for it in the bargaine. He doth againe call the gift of the Macedonians a grace, thereby to drawe men the rather to giue. For that which makes men so loth to giue is, because they thinke that it is their own, not considering that they are onely dispo­sers of the manifold graces of god, 1. Pet. 4. 10. as stewards, and must be countable to their master for them, whether they haue vsed them to the best advantage of their masters credit. Luke, 16. 1. The name of grace will also take away the opinion of desert; Rom. 11. 6. And therefore Dauid when he had made such goodly prepara­tion for the most glorious temple that e­uer was in the world. 1. Chro. 29. 14. yet saith he, we haue giuen thee that which is thine owne. He calleth it the fellowship of the ministring, because the Apostle did go with the releefe that was gathered, 1. Cor. 16. 4. For then will men be willing, when they knowe that the party that doth carrie it, will distribute it faithfully. On the other side, we see howe vnwilling men be to giue to proctours, of whose trust & faith­fulnes [Page 16] they may very well doubt: and that the poore houses for whome they gather shall haue but a litle of the collection. If therefore we will haue men willing to giue, we must be very carefull to appoint such collectours as are of great credit with the consciences of such as are to giue. It is not also to be omitted, that the poore here and throughout these two chapters, are tearmed by the name of Saints, which is an honourable title: and therefore when he will put the Corinths in minde of the ex­cellencie of their estate, he telleth them that they are Saints by calling, 1. Cor. 1. 2. by sanctification is the image of God renued within vs. The Saints of God be those vp­on whome all our delight should be set, Psal. 16. 3. to mooue therefore our selues and others to giue to the poore, we are to consider that they are the Saints of God. The thing that makes vs despise them and be careles of them, is the forgetting that they are rich in faith, and heires apparant to the kingdome of heauen, Iam. 5. 2. The Apostle was not ignorant that diuerse [Page 17] of those whome he speaketh of were vn­vnruly, and a man may thinke it a strange thing, that the Apostle needed to be praied for in this matter; for who would doubt that comming with releefe, of his beeing welcome vnto them, yet we see he prayeth the Romans, cap. 15. 31. to pray for him that this his seruice might be accepted of the Saints, Act. 6. 1. If men be mooued to con­tribute to poore schollers in the vniuersi­ties, from whence the Gospell hath soun­ded into all parts of the kingdome, answer is wont to be made, that they are so proud in their apparell, that it is pittie that they should haue any releefe: nowe though some forget themselues that waies, yet all doe not, and they make choise of the best. If men would accustome themselues to account them the poore saints of the vni­versities, as the Apostle doth call the poore people of Ierusalem by that name; and that also when he doth thinke vpō their wāts, Rom. 15. 31. then would men be more rea­dy to giue. The like may be said of the poore people of God euery where. VVe [Page] account as well of other things, when they be in the handes of the poore, as we doe when they be in the handes of the rich. In a market or faire, if a poore man will buy any thing, his money shall be as well estee­med of as the money of the rich: and if he will giue but a penny more for a thing, he shall haue it before another: his coyne is as good siluer as an other mans. And why should not sanctification be esteemed of as well in the poorer sort as in other men? The Apostle calleth them Saints which doe now liue, and needed releefe, which is good also to obserue. For if a man should be of the opiniō of the papists in this point namely, to account no man a Saint whilst he liueth, what great heart should a man haue to releeue any. On the other side, to consider that in the scripture the seruantes of God are not called Saints after their death, but onely whilest they be aliue: and after their death they haue other names giuen them, as Kemnisius against the coū ­sell of Trent, doth very well obserue, may be a meanes to pull men from Idollatry. [Page 19] True it is, that corruption is mingled with holinesse, as water is mingled with wine; yet we call it wine and not water: so must we account the other Saints, though they haue wants in them. The meaning of the Apostle, is not that onely the saints of God should be releeued: for if thine enemy hun­ger, feede him. But howsoeuer we must do good vnto all, yet especially to the hous­hould of faith, Gal. 6. they must haue the priueledge of an elder brother, euen a dou­ble portion. If the almes of some fewe of the Papists which are forwarder in giuing then their fellows, were examined by this rule, it would not dazle the eyes of some men as it doth.

5 And this they did not as we looked for: but gaue their own selues, first to the Lord, and after vnto vs by the will of God.

6 That we should exhort Titus, that as he had begun, so he would accomplish the same grace among you also.

They are commended for beeing boun­tiful beyond the exhortatiō of the Apostle. The profession of the Gospell doth as it [Page 20] were, promis the releeuing of their poore brethren, so that all that here of the one, will hope of the other: so that those profes­sers which doe not performe this duty, are called in the scripture cloudes without raine. And it is dangerous in the highest degree to disapoint mē of the hope which they conceiue of them; for they are subiect to the curse which was denounced by Christ against the figge tree, neuer fruite growe on thee hereafter. But these people are here commended for performing more then euer the Apostle did looke for. And we knowe he looked that euen a la­bouring man should giue to him which hath more neede then himselfe, Eph. 4. The cause of their liberality is said to be this, namely that they gaue ouer them­selues vnto the Lord, they rezined their wil to the will of God: when a man denyeth himselfe, he will soone be brought to giue where neede is, and good reason it is that we should doe so, for we are not our own 1. Cor. 6. We must not liue to our selues but to the Lord, referring al to his honour, [Page 21] Rom. 12. 1. here I am to doe thy will, O Lord. VVhen men were once subdued by the Gospel, they laide their money downe at the Apostles feete, Act. 4. 35. and there­fore it is saide, they gaue themselues first vnto the Lord, and after to vs by the will of God. Shall I, saith Dauid, giue vnto God that that costeth me nothing, 2. Sam. 24. 24. 6 They are said to haue done good, not onely by their example, but also by their speach. For they intreated the Apo­stle to deale with Titus to goe forwarde with that which he had begunne. By this speach we may first of all obserue the great modestie that was in the Apostle, who de­sired not to be accounted the onely man that dealt with the matter of reliefe: but did most willingly acknowledge the for­wardnesse of other men in this matter. VVhen therefore we vnderstand that o­thers haue dealt a long time together in inflaming the mindes of men to a merci­full regarde of their poore brethren, it is meete that it should be thought vpon. The mindes of men are like to a fire of greene [Page 22] wood; if in such a fire a man bestoweth much blowing and puffing, it may be that at the last a litle blast setteth all on a flame: yet will no wise man attribute the flaming of that wood to that litle blast, but to the long puffing that went before: so is it in this matter. Therefore our Sauiour Christ when he will teach his disciples to be hū ­ble and modest, Other men, saith he, haue laboured (meaning the prophets which were before them) and you haue entrea in­to their labours, Ioh. 4. 38. It was of great force to mooue the Corinthians to libera­litie, when they were told that the church of the Macedonians did looke to haue it so: for men are loath but that other chur­ches should haue a good opinion of them. Besides this, though Titus was very readie to performe this dutie, yet because he was loath to ouercharge any, it was to be thought that he would be more sparing in his speaches this waies: but when he was incouraged thereunto by other, and those also poorer Churches, this no doubt did greatly embolden him vnto this dutie. [Page 23] By this meanes also the Corinthians could take the lesse exception against his speach. For if Titus alone of his owne accord one­ly had made this motion, answer might haue bin made, that Titus had no experi­ence this waies, namely how many waies charges goe out with them that haue dea­ling in the world. But when other Chur­ches which know what these charges doe meane, doe yet account it needeful to con­tribute, this stoppeth the mouthes of such as would gainesay this exhortation. These men did not onely giue, but they did also procure other men to giue. If they had onely giuen, though this had beene much in respect of their pouertie, yet otherwise the parties to whome they gaue, should haue receiued but a little. But when besides their owne gift, they mooue others to giue, this amounteth to a great deale. To mooue others to giue is highly accounted of, 2. King. 4. 8. for because of this dutie is the Sunamite so highly accounted of. And as in warre, drummers are necessarie to make others fight: but then are they most [Page 24] necessarie when they also themselues will fight: then are such as stirre vp others to giue most necessarie. If men in a towne or parish haue any sparkle of zeale in them, such drummers will make them giue. And if men can not stirre vp others to giue immediately by themselues for want of ac­quaintance, yet should they be so zealous as to stirre vp by others, as the Macedonians mooued Titus by Paul. It is no reproch but an honourable seruice, to begge for o­ther men. For this that is here saide of the Macedonians, is not spoken to their dis­grace, but to their commendation. They were not of their mindes that except they be the first moouers, they will do nothing. A couetous heart is glad to take occasion to keepe himselfe from dutie by such ex­cuses. These men that be so affected, may well be compared to restie horses, that wil neither goe of their owne accord without the spurre, and yet if they be spurred, then they will goe backward. The baddest ser­uants thinke most scorne to be quickned vp vnto dutie: but an humble minded man [Page 25] or woman will soone acknowledge that they stand in neede of admonition: for o­therwise we must take away preaching and all admonition. The manner also of moouing Paul to deale with Titus is not to be omitted: for they acknowledge the forwardnes of Titus in that he had alrea­die begunne; so that they doe not stir him vp in a bragging manner, as if vnder the pretense of moouing of him their mea­ning was to vaunt themselues aboue him: for such a kinde of dealing would haue hindered the perswasion. Besides this it should also haue beene daungerous to their owne soules: they onely as it were put him in minde of that which he had begunne to doe before in other churches.

7 Therfore as ye aboundin euery thing, in faith and word, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your loue towards vs: so euen see that you abound in this grate also.

8 This I say not by commandement: but because of the diligence of others, therefore proue I the naturalnes of your loue.

As before he doth exhort them from the liberality of other Churches, so doth he nowe perswade them by their owne forwardnes in other things: that as they had faith, and had knowledge, and vtte­rance, to impart this their faith vnto o­thers: and were also not idle, but diligent in their affaires and also loued the Apostle of whome they learned these things: so he would haue them also abound in di­stributing vnto other their poore brethrē. When a man heareth or seeth others which are plentiful in giuing, yet they can­not speake of matters of religion in so plē ­tifull a manner as we can. We are then in great danger to set so light by this grace of God in them For we thinke they want that knowledge which we haue, but the Apostle teacheth vs a contrary lesson, namely that to those graces which he had commended in them, they should adde this grace of giuing also, 1. Cor. [...]. 5. When a man heateth of any man of account, that can speake of matters of religion, more ful­ly and plentifully then any of their profes­sion [Page 27] and calling throughout the whole countrey, that he is a graue and a learned man, and of great iudgement in the scrip­tures yet he shall be noted in liberality to be nothing sutable to that portion which God hath giuen him, not nothing answe­rable to the frankenesse of other men, which haue neither that wealth nor kno­wledge which he hath: this is a great ble­mish vnto him. And it makes men set lesse by those excellent gifts of knowledge and speech a great deale, then otherwise they would doe. No doubt but that these men amongest the Corinthians which were thus rich in knowledg, gaue something to good vses: or els the Apostle would neuer haue vouchsafed to haue made any honourable mention of their other gifts. But be­cause they were more scant in giuing, then men of meaner vnderstanding, the Apostle would haue them to abound in this duty also, which would giue as great a grace vnto them in the eyes of God and man, as any knowledge, or speech, or any, or all the gifts they had, putting them all toge­ther: [Page 28] for that that is to be desired of a man, is his goodnes. Those that haue know­ledge and speach in great aboundance, are woont to be noted as chiefe men among the professours: when men therefore shall note them to be somwhat skant in giuing, they will easily imagine that all other pro­fessours are farre more skant, as in know­ledge, so in giuing: thus doe men bring disgrace to the whole church of God. And it grieues a man when he heareth a man of knowledge noted for hardnes, and be ex­cept he would be partiall, cannot tell what to say in his behalfe. 8 The Apostle would haue this dutie of giuing to come naturally from them, as it were of their owne accord: and therefore he saith, I say not this by commaundement. He might no doubt haue commaunded them as they would answer to the contrarie at their vt­termost perill, when Christ shall come to iudgement, 1. Tim. 6. 17. but for loues sake he chuseth to deale otherwise, that this du­tie might not be of necessitie, but willing­ly, Philemon 14. Generosus animus, as one [Page 29] saith, facilius sequitur quàm trahitur: therefore the Apostle doth labour sweet­ly to allure them by the example of other churches.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Ie­sus Christ, that he beeing rich for your sakes became poore, that ye through his po­uertie might be made rich.

To strengthen the example of the Ma­cedonians, he doth warrant it as good by his example that is to order all the Chur­ches in the world. The Apostles, as it may appeare by their writing, in all duties did much looke vpon the patterne Christ Ie­sus, euen as painters looke much vpon the partie whome they meane to paint out. When they would not haue vs stand vp­on our reputation, they alleadge the ex­ample of Christ, Philip. 2. 7. When they will mooue seruants quietly to put vp the wrongs and iniuries of their masters, they bring forth the example of Christ, 1. Pet. 2. 21. When they will mooue husbands to loue their wiues, they alleadge the exam­ple of Christ. VVhen they would haue vs [Page 30] not loue in word but in deede, and to lay downe our liues for our brethren, if neede be, they propound vnto vs the example of Christ, Ioh. 3. VVhen they will haue vs to beginne to loue our brethren, and not to tarrie vntill they beginne to loue vs, they propound vnto vs the example of Christ: So here moouing vs to liberalitie, he doth set before our eyes the example of Christ, who beeing the heyre of the world, Hebr. 1. yet to make vs rich, was content not to haue an house to put his head in. If we thinke that the poore are not such worthy men, that for their sakes a man should di­minish that which he hath, then much more might Christ thinke so. As therfore the Apostle saith in another place, Consider him, that is to say the greatnes of him, He­br. 12. that indured such speaking against of sinners: so is it saide here, that euen our Lord beeing rich, for our sakes became poore: and therefore when men will not giue of their superfluitie, they are farre from following the example of Christ.

10 And I shew my minde herein: for this [Page 31] is expedient for you which haue begun not to doe onely, but also to will a yeare agoe.

11 Now therefore performe to doe it al [...] so, that as there was a readines to will, euen so you may performe it of that vvhich you haue.

12 For if there be first a willing minde, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

In that the Apostle doth offer the mat­ter vnto their consideration, aduising thē by saying, I shew you my minde herein, we must not thinke but that this aduise of his is to haue the force and authoritie of a cō ­mandement. VVhen the prophet Dauid saith, that the word of God is his counseller, psal. 119. 24. his meaning is not but that it should command him. But onely his mea­ning is to allure them sweetely, and not to drawe them by commaundement to the duty of giuing. He speakes as a meane man may speake to any supericur, for the counsell we knowe may aduise the prince, though otherwise shee be to command them: and when shee doth follow their ad­uise [Page 32] shee is not drawne against her will: but sweetly allured by that equity, and rea­son, which she seeth to be in their speeches. In this manner doth the Apostle perswade them to this duty in this place: so that though he doth aduise them, yet must we knowe that this his aduise, is to haue the place of a commandement. We must not gather as the Papists doe from such spee­ches, that their be in the scripture, counsels and commaundements: the commaunde­ments we must of necessity doe, but for counsels, we are at liberty whether we wil do them or no. And therfore those which follow the counsell and aduise that is set down in the scripture, because they doe more then the lawe requireth, doe there­fore works of supererogation, as those do that liue a single life, that loue their ene­mies, and doe such like things. This is no such aduise as men may choose whether they will doe it or no: na, this and such like speeches doth magnify the word of God in that it is called our counsell, and in that the interpreters thereof, are called our coū ­selloures: [Page 33] for thereby we haue the prero­gatiue of kings and princes. Who when any matter is brought vnto them, are wōt to send to their secretary to call their coū ­sell together. So when we haue any thing to doe, we must call for our counsellers the Prophets and Apostles, and such as can in­terpret their writings vnto vs: for they are the counsellers of the worlde. In all thy waies, saith Salomon, acknowledge the Lord and he shall direct thee in his waies. And in these hard times, if men would knowe what regard they should haue of their poore brethren, they should consult with these two chapters, wherein the ho­ly ghost of purpose hath set down his ho­ly will and pleasure vnto vs. The worlde thinkes, that the ministers of the Gospell, take too much vpon them, when they ad­vise men in these matters: as if men were not wise inough to bestowe that they meane to giue, but that the ministers must aduise them. But there is more wisdome required in this thing then the world is a­ware of: we knowe what became of him [Page 34] which refused to follow the counsell of the auncient, 1. King. 12. So when men shall choose rather to followe the counsell of wild young men, that would haue a man spend that he hath at drinkings which are needlesse, then vpon their poore brethren; we know what they may looke for, with that rich man in the 6. of Luke. To mooue them the rather to follow his aduise, he tel­leth them that it is expedient or profita­ble, for he that is wise is wise for himselfe as Salomon saith, Prouerbes 9. This argu­ment that is drawn from profit, is woont to be in steede of a 1000. arguments: for tell a man thus, you are not your owne friend if you take not this course, you haue said inough: if he be perswaded of the truth of this saying, it shall be in steed of a thousand sayings. VVhen Parents would haue their children to worke, they will let them haue their owne earnings, they knowe that if any thing will drawe them to worke, that will doe it. Howe it is ex­pedient or profitable, we may see in the 9. chapter and eight verse, he tells them that [Page 35] they were willing to this duty a yeere a goe, onely it was laid a side by reason of o­ther matters, so that they were already per­swaded that the thing ought to be done: so that he needed not to spend his time in proouing that it ought to be done; for this was already agreed vpon. A man may giue for feare of lawe or for feare of dis­credit, for what wil mē say if I should giue nothing: In this manner a man will giue his purse to a theife, but to doe this thing willingly is thankeworthy. This willing­nes is necessary as in all duties, so in this: o­therwise a man shall haue many pulbackes to keepe him from this duty; the children and kindred thinke that all is to little for them, and yet we read that Iob had seuen sonnes and three daughters, Iob. 1. 2. yet did he not eate his mursels alone, but the fatherlesse, did grow vp with him, he sawe none to perish for want of cloathing, the stranger did not lodge in the streete; men that are of that place which Iob was of, thinke that by reason of that countinance that they are to bare, & their childrē both [Page 36] whilest they liue with them, and after their death, that little or nothing is to be giuen, especially when they haue so many sōnes as Iob had and 3. daughters: But Iob was willing to giue, and therefore was not pulled away by any such temptation from this duty. 11. Though they had a minde to giue, yet were they slack in performing their purpose, for this makes men secure, when they haue once a minde to giue, they then neuer doe mistrust themselues, they thinke then it must needes be done without any further indeauour. But we must strike the yron whilest it is hot, if we tarry whilest it be cold, it must haue a new heating before we can worke vpon it: we must pray vnto God when he hath giuen vs the will, that he would also giue vs the deede. In respect of men, also there is cause why we should doe things with expediti­on; for the deferring of hope is the fainting of the soule, and we should not weary the eyes of the widdowe. The reason why sometimes it is dangerous to doe a thing suddenly, is because we haue not thought [Page 37] of it sufficiently: but when a thing is right­ly purposed there can be no danger in v­sing all the expedition that may be. 12. Men are wont to obiect the charges of their family, which makes them that they cannot giue much, and they are ashamed to giue a little. The Apostle takes away all such delaies, by telling them that a man must giue according to that he hath, and not according to that he hath not: and this may minister good comfort to a man, for when one giueth what he may, it is no­thing accounted of of the Lord because it is so little: but the Apostle doth assure vs that if a man giue according to his abillitie, God accepteth of it; And as in strength a poore man which vseth that little strength which he hath, is better accounted of both of God and man, then some idle lusty fel­lowe which hath foure times his strength, and doth not vse it. So he that hath but a little wealth, and yet doth well imploy that little which he hath, is a great deale more to be accounted of then those idle wealthy men, that wil not put forth them­selues. [Page 38] Men in this matter must consider that they haue to deale with God, from whome they can hide nothing: and therefore if they say that they giue accor­ding to that which they haue, beeing not­withstanding priuie to themselues that they haue a great deale more then that which is sutable to that which they giue, men may then deceiue themselues: but as the Apostle saith, God is not mocked, Galat. 6. 7.

13 Neither is it that other men should be eased, and you grieued.

14 But vpon like condition at this time your aboundance supplieth their lacke, that also their aboundance may be for your lack, that there may be equalitie.

15 As it is written, He that gathered much had nothing ouer, and he that gathe­red little had not the lesse.

VVhen any is relieued the Apostle would not haue it to be with the burde­ning of others. VVhen men be behinde hand, they are woont to get a license to keepe an alehouse, that thereby they may [Page 39] maintaine themselues and their charge: for other poore men must come to their hou­ses to spend that which they haue, not ca­ring in the meane time what shall become of their wiues and children. This is contra­rie to the rule of the Apostle, for when the poore oppresse the poore, it is like a raging raine that leaueth no foode. In some places poore men will bestowe their money at marriages, when the parties that are mar­ried, are a great deale wealthier then them­selues: and their masters, though they say other men shall be as bold with them whē they marrie their children or seruants, yet there is no likelihood that poore men will euer be so bold with them. The Apostle hath no such craft in his speach. Not but that we must giue without looking for a­ny such recompence. 14 Onely the A­postle assureth thē that there is no partia­litie in this thing. For if it should please god to humble the Corinthswith like want, he would then be as earnest with those of Ie­rusalem to contribute vnto them. 15 He bringeth forth good proofe, that this mu­tuall [Page 40] helpe ought to be amongst the ser­uants of God, Exod. 16. 18. The people of Israel were fedde with Manna for a time, that thereby they might vnderstande in their ordinarie foode for euer, euen when this Manna should cease, that they were not fedde by their owne labour or indu­strie, but by the blessing of God, as we are taught, Deut. 8. 3. By this their Manna we may see as it were in a glasse, how to order our selues in our ordinarie foode. All the children of Israel were willed to gather Manna, and some of them gathered more according as they were more nimble or more strong then others, and so they laide it all on an heape: howsoeuer some gathe­red more then some other, yet none had more then an Homer full for his priuate vse; by which meanes all had enough and none wanted. The Apostle would haue vs to make vse of this matter: and although we haue no Homer to measure our goods withall, yet seeing neither we nor our children after vs, should be intemperate in eating and drinking, in apparell, in buil­ding [Page 41] in houshold stuffe, or in any other matter, that ouerplus which wee haue should be bestowed vpon others. True it is that wee are to keepe possession of that which God hath blessed vs withall, as a strong man is to keepe possession of his strength: but touching the vse of our goods, we must doe as hath beene saide. And if it please God to humble vs with pouertie, then those that haue more then an Homer full, that is to say, more then they neede, they must then doe the like for vs. If they did reserue of their Manna it did stinke, it did them no good, Exod. 16. 20. it was full of wormes: so when men reserue couetously more then needes, Theeues, as Christ saith, breake thorough and steale, the rust eates their coyne, the moath con­sumes their garments: not but that among the Iewes some had more wealth then some other: for the elder brother was to haue a double portion: but because he did maintaine more in his familie then did his younger brother, in the ende all came to one reckoning. When in the Lord his [Page 42] praier the rich make this petition, Giue vs this day our daily bread, they pray not one­ly for themselues, but for their poore bre­thren. But when they haue meanes in their hand to releeue them, and doe it not, how then can they be said truly to make this pe­tition? For as a man that praieth for his owne foode, if he vse not the meanes, he may truly be said to tempt God: so when a man desires the Lord to relieue his poore brethren, and God hauing put meanes into his hands to relieue them withall, and yet he will not imploy them, what doth he els but dally with the Lord? And we are to consider that this bountifulnes that is here spoken of, is to be vnderstood of the Saints that doe now liue, least imagining them onely to be Saints that are dead, we doe as the Papists doe, who in the scarsitie of all things, had their dead imagined saints clad and couered with golde, silke garments, pretious iewells, hauing waxe candles set before thē within & without the church at noone daies, when many true Saints of God had no succour bestowed vpon thē.

16 And thanks be vnto God which hath put in the heart of Titus the same care for you.

17. Because he accepted the exhortation, yea he was so carefull, that of his owne ac­cord he went vnto you.

To mooue the Corinthians to relieue their brethren, he tells them what excellēt men God raised vp to deale in this matter with them: and as before he accounted it a grace to giue, so doth he now account it a grace to stirre vp to giuing. Men are loth to deale in such a matter as men common­ly are hardly drawne to performe: and a man of a good dispositiō, if he hath wher­withall, had rather giue all out of his owne purse, then to be troubled with such a kind of businesse, if dutie did not mooue him thereunto. What a tedious piece of work is it for a man to gather that which men are rated at, notwithstanding they cannot chuse but account it as due debt that which they are set at: how loath may men then be thought to be to part from that where­in they thinke that they haue more liber­tie. [Page 44] It is the Lord without whose pro­uidence not so much as a sparrow light­eth vpon the ground. He hath a worke in euery mans minde as it pleaseth him. VVhen Apollos was requested to goe to the Corinthians, he had no minde to goe at that time, 1. Cor. 16. 12. The Lord might haue disposed so in like manner of the heart of Titus. But in that the Lord did otherwise dispose of his heart, they must needes see that it came of God; and there­fore they were to yeelde to the motion of Titus in this matter, Gen. 24, 50. As the A­postle tels the Galathians, that they were not to doe as they did, because it came not of God, Gal. 5. 8. Iames 3. 6. So they were to yeeld to Titus, because God stirred him vp in this duty. And he thankes God for it: for the good workes of the seruants of god should cause vs to glorify our father which is in heauen, & is the author of thē, Mat. 5. 16. Titus was mooued by mem, but it was the Lord which put into his heart to yeeld to the exhortation. And we are to marke, the exhortation and the worke [Page 45] of God his spirit are ioyned together. 17. He is said to be very ready of his owne ac­cord without any great hailing therevnto, And yet as there is no matter be it neuer so ready to take fire, that can be set on fire, be put to it: no though a man be ready to every good worke, yet he had need to be exhorted therevnto: and the Lord accep­teth of it when by exhortation we are brought vnto duty, Heb. 11. 11. Act. 16. 14. The readines which was in Titus to come is worthy of obseruation: for commonly our hearts are like paper oyled, that hardly receiueth the print of the pen. Fire is the thing whereby we dispatch most of our busines in our houses, and a slacke fire doth hinder our matters greatly: so doth a slack affection about any duty. And it was to great purpose to tell the Corinthes howe willing Titus was to come vnto them: for it was a signe that he had a good liking of them A man is loth to go to a place where he thinkes he shall not be welcome. It is hope which sets a man a worke to goe to any place: It is that which lifteth vp their [Page 46] feete to goe any iourney, which was a ve­ry good meanes to make them answere that good exhortation which he had of them.

18 And we haue also sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospell throughout all the Churches.

19 And not so onely, But is also chosen of the churches to be a fellow in our iour­ney, concerning this grace that is ministe­red by vs vnto the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your prompt minde.

18 Barnabas is the party that he speakes of Act. 11. 30. whose praise was in preach­ing of the Gospell. For not onely the histo­ry, but the preaching of the Gospell, is cal­led the gospell, Rom. 2. 16. Gal. 3. 1. because it is a meanes to make them giue more li­berally, when they see that such are the collectours as will certenly deliuer it to the parties to whome it is giuen: therefore he meaneth these excellent men. And to the ende that they might not doubt of the de­liuery of that which was giuen, he tels thē that those shall go with it whom they thē ­selues [Page 47] shall appoint, 1. 16. 3. Diuers will not giue, though they be neuer so faithfull which are appointed the distributers of it; they are wont to alleadge that they will giue it themselues where they thinke meete. But if euery man should doe so, what a confusion would there be? And we see how the poore are forced to steale, and to beg, when euery one that should giue is left in this manner to his owne deuotion. For this is a true saying, that which all men regard, no man regardes. But when there be parties appointed fit for the purpose, then the poore shall be regarded. Men are wont to alleadge, that they meane to giue more then all the world shall be acquain­ted withall: but indeede the truth is, that none giue lesse priuately then those that draw backe in a publique collection. The thing which Christ reprooueth Matth. 6. is, when men giue priuately to be seene of men they will doe it in such manner as all the world must know it: such boasting in deede is like the cackling of an henne, who when shee hath laide an egge euery bodie [Page 48] must know what a worthie act shee hath done. But otherwise for a man to giue as his neighbours doe, in a publike collection vpon a publike agreement, this is not to blow a trumpet before him when he gi­ueth his almes: and if he meanes to giue a­ny further reliefe priuately, he may doe it as closely and as secretly as he doth desire. Christ doth not condemne, but he doth greatly allow the fact of the poore widow that in a publike collection shewed her forwardnes, in giuing as others did pub­likely, and more franckly (considering her poore estate) then any of the rest. 19 He, the ambassadour I meane, that was to goe with the money, was not onely commen­ded for preaching, but he was accounted wise and faithfull, and therefore fit for this present busines. As much therefore as they did detract from this busines and ministra­tion, so much did they detract from the glorie of God, and from the declaration of their readie minde that was sought there­in. For according to the greatnes of those which were to goe vpon that ambassage, [Page 49] they might well gather of the greatnes of the matter that was to be dealt in, and of that great desire they had to haue the am­bassage to take place, Numb. 22. 15. This wisdom in appointing such excellent men, as it is to be followed in many things, so is it to be followed when men make their Wills. For let mē giue neuer so large lega­cies, yet if there be failing in the execution, all comes to nothing. The children which are to be fatherlesse, commonly are left to the curtesie of those which haue iittle affe­ction to them, but to that which they haue: & haue by vertue of their executor­ship most knowledge and oppertunity to spoile them, ovem lupo, or it may be saide of them that they commit the geese to the keeping of the foxe. By marking through­ly whether men deale iustly and truely in their affaires, they shall knowe whether they be meete men to be their executors.

20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame vs in this aboundance that is mini­stered by vs.

21 Prouiding for honest things, not one­ly [Page 50] before the Lord, but also before men.

What his meaning is, we may see 1. Cor. 16. 3. for there he saith, whome soeuer ye shall allow by letters, them will I send to bring your liberalitie to Ierusalem. The Apostle himselfe was desired to carry this money, but he would not be alone in this busines: but he would haue witnesses that the money was faithfully bestowed. He which refuseth to offer himselfe to triall in such a matter, may well be suspected. It is but a vaine thing to say god knowes my heart, when I may make my truth and simplicity known also vnto men. When men haue any authority ouer those to whome they are to approoue themselues, then they are wont to disdaine to approue their doings vnto their consciences. But if Paul that had the authority of an Apostle, might stand vpon his own bare credit for the faithfull deliuery of that he was betru­sted withall, better then any man in the world how dare any thē that may a thou­sand times be rather suspected then the A­postle, stand so vpon their own bare word, [Page 51] that no man may be so bold as to say vnto them, how haue you bestowed the mony that you were betrusted withall. We are to consider of this the rather, because tho­rough the goodnes of God, we are to­wards a reasonable order for prouiding for the poore. If those that haue the mony in their handes doe not from time to time very carefully, as much as they may, ap­prooue themselues to the consciences of those whose money they haue receiued, it is to be feared, that in a little time all will come to nothing: and therefore this is one of the things that must as strictly be obser­ued, as any other thing whatsoeuer that belongeth to this busines. And therefore I beseech those in the feare of God, that haue and are to haue the mony that is ga­thered in their handes, as they loue their owne credit, and as they delight that men should be encouraged to the dutie of gi­uing, that the poore Saints of God may be relieued, that they would cause their sim­plicitie this waies to be so seen, that he that runneth may read it, as the Prophet spea­keth. [Page 52] Men can not be too carefull of this dutie: and therefore if they did cause to be drawne in a table what euery man doth giue, & what euery poore man receiueth, and caused euery such table to be set vpon euery church dore throughout the town, it were a very simple and syncere and cō ­mendable order. The keeping of some o­uerplus in their hands to relieue according as extraordinarie occasion shall fall out, wil marre all, except the people whose money it is doe like of this order, and see as plainly how this ouerplus is bestowed as well as the other that is ordinarily bestowed. All executors may learne a good lesson from hence: they thinke they are not bound to pay any legacies, except men aske it them: notwithstanding it falleth out many times, that men know not whether they haue a­ny thing giuen them or no: or it may be they knowe not the time when it is due. And all that haue to deale with receiuing of money, haue here a notable example gi­uen them by the Apostle. Men are woont to flie to the report of such, as either know [Page 53] not their doings, or els will not speake rightly of them. But the Apostle prouided that no man might thinke otherwise then well of him. He had before his eyes conti­nually the comming of Christ, which cau­sed him to haue a cleare conscience both towards God and towardes men, Act. 24. vers. 16.

22 And vve haue sent with them our brother, whome vve haue oftentimes proo­ued to be diligent in many things: but now much more diligent, for the great confi­dence I haue in you.

It is as we haue heard, to great purpose, to know who be the parties which shall distribute that which is giuen: for it will incourage men the rather to giue. If men shall distribute it at leisure they knowe not when, this will cause men to haue little minde to giue. He must therefore be quick and round and readie in his office that is this waies to be imployed. Men had neede to giue good attendance vpon those that are to giue, or els their affection will coole quickly: and the poore that should haue [Page 54] that which is giuen, can not forbeare it any long time. So that the diligence the Apo­stle speaketh of we see is very necessarie. And he doth put them in good hope of the partie whome he doth commmend, because he had experience of his diligence in the like affaires: and he doth assure them that they may now much more looke for the like diligence, because of that forward­nes that he did not doubt to be in them. For seeing he was diligent when he had to doe with a backward people, he knew that it would doe him good to be diligent whē he should haue to doe with such a forward people. Men commonly appoint such col­lectours for the poore as are of some pre­tie wealth; but to appoint such as will stay the dealings of their owne priuate affaires to attend vpon this publike worke, that will inquire who be sicke, or who haue more speciall neede, and that will euery manner of way bestirre themselues in this worke, this is the thing that is not once thought vpon.

23 Whether any doe inquire of Titus, he [Page 55] is my fellow and helper to you ward: or of our brethren, they are messengers of the Chur­ches, and of the glorie of Christ.

24 Wherefore shew towards them, and before the Churches the proofe of your loue, and of the reioycing that we haue of you.

That which the Apostle did speake be­fore of those three excellent men in a large manner, adding other matters in the brin­ging of them in. Now to the end that they might the rather be mooued with their excellencie, he speakes of them altogether without the mingling of any other matter in the speaking of them, that their minde might not be distracted; but that it might wholly be taken vp with thinking of thē. Concerning Titus, he reports of him that he was his fellow and helper, and that to them ward. They were yoked together as it were in one and in the self same work. If therefore they made any reckoning of the Apostle himselfe, then they must needs thinke well of Titus, whome the Apostle made choice of to be his companion in so great a worke. And he working in the [Page 56] worke of the ministerie amongst them­selues, they neede no other witnesses to ap­prooue of him but themselues: for he was the Apostles fellowe and helper to them ward. As for the other brethren, they are the messengers not of particular men, but of whole Churches. If therefore the testi­monie of the churches be of account with them, they must then regard that testimo­nie that is giuen vnto them. 24 He doth therfore infer this vpon his former speach, namely that that which is done before them, is done before al the churches. They were to the churches as committies be to the Parliament house. The whole orde­ring of the matter was committed to their fidelitie. If in the mouth of two or three witnesses euery word should stand, how much more ought it to stand in the testi­monie of whole churches. The churches are of the counsell of Christ, Ioh. 15. 15. and we know that a messenger comming frō any one of the Counsell is greatly to be ac­counted of, but comming from the whole bodie of the Counsell he is much more to [Page 57] be esteemed. He would haue them there­fore to consider, that in these messengers they had to doe with all the churches: and when they were before them, they were before all the Churches, who looked vp­on to giue testimonie how they stood af­fected to the relieuing of the poore Saints of Ierusalem. To this end he maketh men­tion of the glorie of Christ: for if one man be the image and glorie of God; if the Lord will haue his glorie shine forth in the preheminence of any one Christian, how much more is his glorie represented vnto vs in the ambassadours of whol chur­ches, 1. Cor. 11. 7. When any one of the poore members of Christ are offered vn­to vs, Christ himselfe presents himselfe then vnto vs, as Math. 25. But here he pre­sented himselfe after a more glorious man­ner. The Lord doth as it were glorie in his faithfull seruants. Hast thou considered my seruant Iob, saith the Lord vnto satan, Iob. 1. Such excellent men are those that are here mētioned. They were such as would glorifie Christ for any good worke that [Page 58] they saw in any of his seruants.

CHAP. 9.

1 For as touching the ministring to the Saints, it is superfluous for me to write vn­to you.

2 For I knovv your readines of minde, whereof I boast my selfe of you vnto them of Macedonia, and say, that Achaia vvas prepared a yeere ago, and your zeale hath prouoked many.

The vse of writing is to certifie the par­tie to whome he doth write, of that wher­of he is either ignorant, or els had neede to be stirred vp vnto: but in neither of these respects was there any cause wherefore he should write to the Corinthians: therfore he saith touching the ministring to the Saints that it was superfluous for him to write vnto them, yet because he had giuen forth euery where to other churches how forward the Corinthians were; and by boasting thus of them he had as it were entred into bonds for their forwardnes. In [Page 59] this respect it was meete that he should put them in minde of this matter. He vseth a certaine kinde of speach called praeteritio: for he saith, that it is superfluous for him to write, and yet he writeth. His meaning is, that it was superfluous to stand long vpon this matter in writing. He doth graunt that they were readie enough of their owne accord, and neede not to be stirred vp by writing; yet because he had boasted so confidently of them, and did thereby as it were enter into bonds in their behalfe; in this respect he dealeth as one that is en­tred into bonds for another. And in such a case though a man thinks well of the par­tie for whome he is bound, and doubts not but that he will pay the debt, yet be­cause the forgetting of such a matter would be exceeding dangerous to the par­tie himselfe, and to the partie that was bound for him: the consideration of the greatnes of the daunger, will cause him to put the partie in minde of the debt, though otherwise he would say nothing. He calls the gift of the Corinths a ministring to the [Page 60] Saints, giuing them thereby to vnderstand, that they are but stewards to bestow the riches of God that he hath betrusted them withall, 1. Pet. 4. 10. The Lord had giuen him his riches as it were by a letter of ad­ministration, to giue where neede was. 2 Least the Corinthians should thinke much of the commendation that he gaue of the Macedonians, as if he had made the Corinthians no bodie in respect of them: or as if he had discredited them vnto those of Macedonia, he telleth them that he was so farre from it, that he did boast of them vnto those of Macedonia. And as he took an occasion to stirre vp the Corinths by the example of the Macedonians, so did he in like manner stirre vp the Macedoni­ans by the forwardnes of the Corinthians. Corinthum was in Achaia. The Apostle would not haue spoken so of them, except he had seene some good forwardnes in them. Companie makes euen a dull beast to goe faster: and therefore the Apostle is much in prouoking by examples. And here we see how wisely the Apostle dea­leth [Page 61] with the churches of God. We see in both these epistles how plainly he doth re­prooue the Corinthians, and yet when he speakes to the Macedonians of them, he saith that Achaia was prepared a yeare a­goe: so that as he commended the Mace­donians to the Corinthians for that they had alreadie done, so doth he commend the Corinths for that they were prepared for to doe. And here we may see the right manner of dealing with the churches of God. When we are to deale with them­selues, we are to open vnto them their wants most faithfully: but when we are to speake to others of them, we are then to commend that that is good in them. To encourage Titus that was to goe amongst the Corinthians, he speakes reuerently of them. If, saith the Apostle, I haue boasted a­nything to Titus of you, I haue not beene ashamed: for our boasting vvas true. But when he dealeth with themselues, howso­euer he giues God thanks for that good that was amongst them, yet doth he plain­ly admonish them, 2. Cor. 7. 14. We see [Page 62] how the Apostle doth mooue by the ex­ample of others: and therefore when we haue an example of strangers that dwell in our owne kingdome, we are very bad schollers if we learne nothing by them: their poore are well set a worke, none of them goeth a begging: they goe sweete and cleane, so that they may be admitted into any honest companie.

3 Now I haue sent the brethren, least our reioycing ouer you should be in vaine in this behalfe, that ye as I haue saide be readie.

4 Least if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you vnprepared: we, (I need not to say you) should be ashamed in this my con­stant boasting.

5 Wherefore I thought it necessarie to exhort the brethren to come before vnto you, and to finish your benevolence appoin­ted before, that it might be readie and come as of benenolence, and not of spa­ring.

3 Before we heard what hope he had of them, now he doth ioyne a godly feare [Page 63] to this his hope: res est solliciti plenati­moris amor. Howsoeuer the suspition and feare that is voide of loue, is condemned in the scripture, 2. Sam. 10. 3. yet that ielou­sie that is ioyned with loue, and that doth stirre vs vp to dutie and watchfulnes ouer those towards whome we carrie this god­ly ielousie, is greatly commended in the scripture, 2. Corinth. 11. 2. Iob 1. 5. It may be, saith Iob, that my sonnes haue sinned. Shame we know is a casting downe of the minde, and leaueth it voide of all comfort to support it selfe withall. The feare of this shame made Ezra rather choose to ha­zard life and goods and all that he had, ra­ther then he would bring vpon himselfe this shame, Ezr. 9. 22. This shame caused him that he would not aske any helpe of the King to whome before he had saide, The hand of our good Goa shall be vpon vs vvithout any such helpe from man. To preuent therefore this so vncomfortable a thing, he thought it good to send the bre­thren before-hande to prepare them, least that those of Macedonia finding [Page 64] them vnprepared they should be ashamed.

6 This yet remember, that he vvhich soweth sparingly shall reape also sparing­ly, and he which soweth liberally shall reape also liberally.

7 As euery man wisheth in his heart, so let him giue, not grudgingly, or of necessi­tie, for God loueth a chearefull giuer.

6 To mooue them the rather vnto li­beralitie, he doth liken it vnto sowing, and he tells them that as the husband doth not thinke that his seede is lost when he doth scatter it into the ground, but that he shall gaine greatly by it: and therefore he will not sow sparingly, least he should haue but a thinne haruest, but he will sow as much as he is able that he may reape according­ly. He telleth them that the case so standeth in giuing. The hope that the husbandman hath of his haruest causeth him to breake vp his ground to fallow it, and to twy fal­low it, and to sow it, and to harrow it: and all this paines is taken in hope of a good haruest: for haruest is that that promiseth great ioy vnto them: in so much that that [Page 65] great ioy that is brought vnto vs by Christ Iesus, is likened to the ioy in har­uest, Esai 9. 3. 7 He telleth them in what manner they should giue, as a man wisheth in his heart. A man must not tarrie till the time of collection doth come, and then to giue as shall come into his minde: but as in all other duties, so in this he must purpose before hande what he meaneth to doe: Dum in dubio est animus paulo huc atque illuc impellitur: and therefore men are willed with purpose of heart to cleane vn­to God, Act. 11. 23. And therefore we read that Daniel determined before he came to the triall what he meant to doe, Dan. 1. 8. He would not haue them giue as of neces­sitie, his meaning is not but that we should inioyne our selues of necessitie to serue God, as in all other dutie, so in this. And be­cause we haue a naughtie nature that is a­gainst all dutie, therefore ought we to of­fer violence and to force our selues to doe well. But when a man shall giue by reason of that opinion that his neighbours would otherwise haue of him, desiring in the [Page 66] meane time to haue spared it, if by any meanes this might haue stoode with the sauing of his credit: to giue of necessitie in this manner is that that is here condem­ned: he mooueth vs therefore to cheare­fulnes in giuing, by telling vs that God lo­ueth a chearefull giuer. The loue of God is so comfortable a thing, that it is able to sweeten the most sowre receipts of affli­ction: and therefore the Apostle tells men that they should hold themselues very wel contented with affliction, because it is an argument of his loue. Whome God doth once loue he doth alwaies loue: and there­fore his vnchangeable decree is described by louing of Iacob, Rom. 9. The ende of giuing is to cheare the parties to whome we doe giue: when a man therefore shall giue a thing in such maner, as if he thought the partie to whom he doth giue vnwor­thie of it, then the end of giuing is not ob­serued. When men shall giue a gift with their hand, and call it backe againe with their speach or countenance, this takes a­way the comfort of the gift: gratia ab offi­cio [Page 67] quodmor a tardat abest. He that is vnder, may soone thinke that he is despised and accounted a burden to the world. Men therefore should giue in such manner as all such thoughts may be kept from them. When men haue neuer a word with them which may perswade their gestes that they are welcōe, it makes their cheere a great deale lesse then it should be: for it is a true saying, that welcome and the signifi­cation thereof is the best cheere. Howe therefore was the father in the entertay­ning of his sonne, he brought forth the robe, he put rings on his fingers, he caused a fat calfe to be killed, come saith he let vs eate and be merry. It is reported of a mer­cifull man that he was wont to say to the parties to whome he gaue any thing, I am as willing to giue it as any man is to take it. How cheereful was Lidia in entertayning of the Apostle: If saith shee, you thinke that I am faithfull to the Lord, then come into my house and make account that I make reckoning of the company of the seruants of god. Thus shee constrained them to eate [Page 68] of her meat, Act. 16. 15. How comfortably did Abraham entertaine his gests, he did runne to meete them, that they might see how welcome they should be vnto him, though he knew them not, and therefore could looke for no benefit from them. The Lord would make Abraham a patterne of this cheerefulnesse: and therefore though the angels which he sent vnto him, stood not in any neede of his meate: yet to take a triall what comfortable entertaynment he would giue vnto them, he offers them vn­to him in such a manner as if they had stood in neede of his entertainment. So in like manner the Lord could giue euery man enough to liue of himselfe if pleased him and that with as little cost or trouble to him, as if he gaue him nothing. But because his meaning is to take a triall how well and louingly men will bestowe their goodes: he doth therefore offer his seruants in their wants vnto them Abrahā considered that these men were weary in their iourney, that their feete were weary with their trauell, especially trauelling in [Page 69] the heate of the day, Gen. 18. 1. 7. To refresh them that waies he offers them water for their feete, and a coole feare to sit in vnder a greene tree that they might rest them­selues: and because he saw their hearts nee­ded to be comforted after their trauell, he tels them that they shall haue a little bread to comfort them that waies. His meaning was to make them good cheere, but least that the feare of putting him to too much cost should stay them from comming in vnto him as it staied Dauid from going to Absolon, 2. Sam. 13. 25. He therefore onely maketh mention of a little bread: and he doth reason with them from the proui­dence of God, that God his meaning was that they should come into his house, and therefore he gaue them occasion to come that waies. We see how courteously he behaued himselfe towardes them as if he had beene beholding to them and not they to him for comming into his house. It is a rare thing not to be somwhat insolent, and to thinke that they may som­what ouer looke the parties to whome [Page 70] they haue giuen entertainment disdaining in the meane time to take the like enter­tainment at their handes vpon the like oc­casion. Nowithstanding the Apostle would haue it to be made mutuall and so consequently cherefull cheerfull, 1. Pet. 4. 9. For it taketh libertie away from a man when he hath to deale with those which are otherwise his equalls, if there be refusall to haue the entertainment mutuall. Abra­ham makes mention to his gests onely of a little bread, but he goeth in to his wife and wills her to make ready with all the speed that might be fiue cakes, and he cau­sed butter, and milke, and veale to be brought in before them: he would not say to his guests you fare not so wel euery day at home; but he makes little of that which he set before them: he standes by them to beare them company, for it appeares he had dined before they came. This cherful­nesse is highly commended by Christ Ie­fus, and is more regarded then the meate it selfe, Luke, 7. 44. For though the Pharise set meate before Christ, yet because he vsed [Page 71] no cheerefulnesse in entertaining of him: he therefore magnifieth the poore womā before him & saith, I entred into thy house and thou gauest me no water for my feete, thou gauest me no kisse, thou didst not an­noint my head with oyle as shee hath done. Thus we see howe and why the Lord lo­ueth a cheerefull giuer, and that if we will haue assurance that God doth loue vs, which loue of his is the cause of all the be­nefits which we receiue from him, then may we giue cherefully.

8 And God is able to make all grace to abound towards you, that you alwaies ha­uing all sufficiency in all things, may aboūd in euery good worke.

The cause of the vncheerefulnesse in the giuer, is because he feareth himselfe should want; the Apostle tels them that God is of tha power, that they neede not feare any such matter, but that they shal haue enough both for themselues and others. The cause of all error is because men doe not beleeue the scripture, nor the power of God, as Christ telleth the Saduces: he doth first [Page 72] therefore commend the power of God vnto them, and afterward the scriptures. The principall proppe that Abraham had to vphold his faith, was to perswade him­selfe, that he which promised was able also to performe. In all the articles of our faith, it is most necessarie that we should be per­swaded of the power of God, for how shal we beleeue that God made heauen and earth, that Christ was borne of a virgin, but by beleuing that the power of the highest did ouershadow her: the like may be said of all the other articles of our faith. We hauing therefore the same word of god to warrant that which the Apostle here speaketh of; why should we not be­leeue the one as well as the other. The me­ning of the Apostle is not to reason onely from the power of god as the Papists doe when they would make vs beleeue that the bread in the sacrament is turned into the body of Christ, because god is able to make it so, for Christ could haue turned stones into bread as Satan would haue had him to haue done, but he would not do it: [Page 73] so that although it be a good argument to reason from the power of god, when we are already certified of his willingnes in the thing, yet when we cannot be perswaded of his willingnes in a thing, it is in vaine to speake of his power. The scripture telleth vs that it is not the will of god, to haue his body to be made of a peece of bread that the heauens must hold him vntill his secōd comming. The word of god telleth vs, that all the miracles that Christ wrought, they were apparent to the outward senses of men, in so much that they were astoni­shed, and said we neuer sawe the like in Is­rael. In that therefore there is no such thing sene in the sacrament, it is plaine that there is no transubstantiation; but in a thousand places we are taught that god will aboun­dantly recompence the liberall person. We see therefore that the reason of the Apostle is good, although the reasons of the Popish Church be not good: the Lord is able to fill them will all sufficiency, for he is called the god of all sufficient. By suf­ficiency he doth not meane that they shall [Page 74] haue that which is sufficient for their own vse, which notwithstāding is a great mer­cie of God to soule and bodie. For we see how many torment themselues that haue not a contented minde: they are neuer sa­tisfied, for he that loueth siluer shall neuer be satisfied with siluer, as Ecclesiastes saith, neither shall such haue any vse of that they haue, Ecclesiastes 5. 9. On the other side, he whose heart God filleth with sufficiencie, hath as much ioy continually as any other man hath, for that little time he is at a feast, Prov. 15. 15. For the Lord therefore to giue vs a contented minde, is a great benefit e­uen in respect of our owne priuate vse. But the sufficiencie that is here spoken of is al­so to giue to others, as appeares by the lat­ter part of the verse, by which words we may also see to what ende we should vse that sufficiencie that the Lord hath giuen vs, namly to abound in euery good work. We see what good thoughts be in the hearts of the seruants of God, when God giueth them aboundance in respect of the thoughts that be in the mindes of wicked [Page 75] men in their aboundance. Is not this great Babel, saith Nabuchadnezzar, that I haue built, Dan. 4. 27. Hamon bragged that he was promoted aboue the princes of the King, Ester 4. 11. Soule, soule, take thy rest, saith the rich man, Luk. 12. 19. But what saith Dauid after his glorious victories, what an indignitie is it, saith he, that I should dwell in an house of Cedar, and that the arke of God should remain in curtaines, 2. Sam. 7. 2. Is there any left of Sauls house, saith he, that I may shew kindnes vnto him for Ionathans sake, 2. Sam. 9. 1. He sent to all the places where he had beene entertai­ned, 2. Sam. 30. 26. We must not bestow a litle and the worst of our goods vpon the poore and vpon good vses, but our first fruits, or the chiefe of our goods, Prov. 3. 9. Exod. 34. 26. Gen. 4. 4. the fattest must be bestowed vpon the seruice of god, Ma­lach. 3. 10. Worldly minded men that are onely giuen to getting, when they should entertaine straungers which haue occa­sion to come to towne, thinke the time lost that is spent that waies, and that such [Page 76] matters should not be stoode vpon: not­withstanding the Apostle saith, giue your selues to hospitalitie, Rom. 12. 13. And why should men thinke that the bestowing of time about the well vsing of their goods, should not be much more acceptable vnto God, then the getting of them, especially seeing the Scripture whē it speaketh of the getting of them, it saith. vse the world as if you vsed it not, 1. Cor. 7. But whē it speaks of the well imployment of them it saith, giue your selues thereunto, be not forgetful of it, Ebr. 13. 2.

9 As it is written, He hath sparsed a­broad, and hath giuen to the poore: his be­neuolence remaineth for euer.

The Apostle prooueth the truth of that which he had affirmed in the former verse, namely that those which giue shall haue wherewithall to giue still. He doth prooue it by the scripture. The scripture is so certen a thing, that if any that hath liued amongst vs, with whome we haue beene very well acquainted, should rise from the dead, and tel vs from the experience of that [Page 77] which he had seene, that vnmercifull rich men are tormented in fire, yet should we beleeue the scripture a thousand times more then his report. They haue the wri­tings of Moses and the Puophets, saith Christ, if they beleeue not them, neither will they beleeue though one rise from the dead, Luk. 16. The Church of Rome doth goe about to lesson the authoritie of this argument, by saying that if any make a question about the meaning of any place of Scripture, then the scripture must not be iudge in this case, but the Church. But we read in the 4. of Matthew, that when Satan abused the scripture and saide, It is written, He shall giue his angels charge o­uer thee, that thou dash not thy foot against a stone, that Christ did not flie to the iudge­ment of any other, but makes the scripture alone of it selfe to iustifie and to vphold it selfe: It is written, saith he, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. He that giueth to the poore, saith Salomon, lendeth vnto the Lord. The Lord giues them a bill of his hand that he will see them paide with ad­vantage. [Page 78] And it is a straunge case that men will beleeue euery meane man vpon a bill of his hand, and yet the Lord as if he were a bankerout, when he offers his bill it will not be taken. The blessings that the Lord hath bestowed already vpon the rich, in making them as it were the elder brothers should make them to be good to their yō ­ger brothers. But this because it is blacke­worke, the Lord will not stand vpon it: & because in any case he would haue them prouided for, he is content to enter into bondes, and to become surety for the pay­ment thereof. The poore are the men that we should giue vnto: for howesoeuer rich friends may feast one another sometimes, yet our vsuall feasting should be for the poore, Luk. 14. 12. We being much giuen to outward things, because bidding of the poore hath not so much shewe nor glorie in it as hath the bidding of the rich, there­fore we are wont to delight more in the one then in the other. But if we shall consi­der we must avoide the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and that [Page 79] those things which are highly accounted of amongst men, are abhominable vnto god: then we shall be of another minde: giue strong arinke vnto him that is readie to perish, Prov. 31. saith Salomon. We must bid the poore to our houses notwithstan­dingour collection money: for there was a collection in Christ his time, Marke, 12. 43. And yet we are taught that we should bid the poore, the blinde, and the lame; many be the things which may incourage vs vn­to this duty. In respect of God, he liketh best of those duties which are done to our brethrē, without hauing any respect vnto our selues, whē they are done with a single eye, not to rebound vpon our selues. In re­spect also of the poore, it must needes be more comfortable to them, then to other guestes: for it may be they eate not one good meale in a moneth, and the full dispi­seth an honycōbe, but to the hungry man e­uery sowre thing is sweete. It will helpe men also against that disdaine which is na­turally in men, for when we admit them to eate at our table, it is a token that we doe [Page 80] not disdaine them. It is a meanes to stirre vp our selues otherwise to be mercifull vn­to them: for when we see nothing but plenty, when we heare of nothing but plentie, it is an hard matter then to consider of the estate of poore men: but when we see thē, and talke with them, if it be done warily without vpbraiding of thē by their poore estate, then are we besides feeding of them, otherwise comfortable vnto them, for be­cause they were not brought vp as we haue beene, they cannot tell howe to apply themselues in their speech vnto vs, there­fore should we apply our selues vnto thē. We must consider that as no other duty, so is not this pleasant vnto our nature, but when Christ commandeth it, that should make it pleasant: If we would consider that euery duty doth consist the denying of our selues, then we shall easily see that this pleaseth God better then the beeing in more delightfull company: and it should make it delightfull, when we consider that those that doe thus, Christ will set them downe at his table, he good himselfe and [Page 81] in his own person attend vpon them, Luk. 1237. his meaning is that he wil giue them most comfortable entertainment. It remaineth now to speake of the ende, for the which this testimony of scripture was es­pecially alleadged by the Apostle, namely to assure those which giue, that they shall haue wherewithall to giue still. And we may see the truth of this, as it were by a de­monstration: when rich men be much in bidding one another, it asketh great expē ­ses, for they looke for a sumpteous enter­tainment being accustomed to a plentifull diet at home: but the poore beeing acquainted with a meane diet, a little prouision wil content them: so that by this meanes, be­sides the excesse of riot which is wont to be by reason of the great variety of dishes, and length of time great charges are also preuented. When men bidde their rich friendes, they are wont to set out their wealth & their port with plate and other furniture, as he did of whome we reade in the first of Hester, to shewe the glory of his kingdome. Al these thinges be avoided [Page 82] by bidding of the poore, so that men shall be able to bidde them still, that their bene­volence may remaine for euer: neither shal they onely haue wherewithall to giue, but they also shall haue a minde & a good will to giue, which is as great a gift as a mā can wish to he in a man. A man is in no request which is not ready to binde others vnto him by kindnesse. Kindnes to other giftes is as the face to other parts of the bodie: This kindnes also is vnto all other gifts, as the spirit is vnto the body; for it is the life and moouer of them, for otherwise they be as dead in our selues. Onely by kindnes are they conueyed to others, euen iustice it selfe without this bountifulnesse is as an handsome: and comely body is that hath a crabbed face vpon it; euen the withered vine tree is more regarded then is thestate­ly oke, because of the goodnesse thereof.

11 Also he that findeth seede to the so­wer, will minister likewise bread for food, and multiply your seede, and increase the fruits of your beneuolence.

12 That on all partes you may be made [Page] rich vnto all liberallitie, which causeth through vs thanksgiuing vnto god.

10 He confirmes his former speech an­swering an obiection; for it might be obie­cted that there is not the like reason of the poore, that their is of the feild, for the one is not so yeelding as is the other: he tel­leth vs therefore that it is god that causeth the earth to be thus yeldable: & we hauing the promise of god that he will cause that to be as yeeldable vnto vs, as that is which is scattered vpon the earth, is as mightie & as willing to performe it the one way as the other. Whether we vnderstand the speech in wishing manner, that God will minister foode, or whether it be set down as a promise, it is not materiall: for we must pray for nothing, but for that for the which we haue a promise: and if we haue a promise for any thing, we may be bould to pray for it, and we are sure that we shall haue it. As the Lord therefore doth giue to the husbandmā that soweth his groūd not onely that which is sufficient for the maintenance of his family, but he giueth [Page] him also seed to sow his ground againe, & so doth he from yeere to yeere: so he that doth as it were sowe his money vpon the poore, the Lord doth not onely giue him wherewithall to maintaine his family, but he giueth him also to sow vpon the poore from yeere to yeere, he giueth him ability and also minde to doe it, for to him that hath shall be giuen. On the other side, he that is miserable continueth miserable still, though he hath neuer a child and knowes not for whome he gathereth his money: yet he hath no heart to bestowe any thing, god will not honour him with any such honourable seruice. 11 This hauing of an heart to bestowe his goodes, is the thing that deserueth the name of riches, as Christ teacheth vs, Luk. 16. 12. For as an owner is worthy to be accounted more welthy thē a little farmer that is tenant at will or du­ring his life; so is it in this case, for these ri­ches a man carrieth to the graue with him, Rev. 14. 13. and God in mercy will reward them with an euerlasting reward. But of the other riches, it is said, naked came I in­to [Page] to this world, and naked shall I goe out a­gaine. He doth stire them vp to bountiful­nesse by the blessed fruite, and from the cō ­fortable effect thereof; for it causeth euen the most excellent duty, euen the duty of thanksgiuing vnto God, which duty be­cause it is repeated in the next verse, I will therefore then speake of it. In the meane time we are not to omit it, that he saith it causeth thanksgiuing through vs, mea­ning through the ministrie of the gospell: if it should be bestowed vpon a profane people, where by reason of their vnthank­fulnesse god should haue had no honour by them, this might wel haue cooled their affectiō from giuing: for without the gos­pell men are vnthankefull, Luk. 6. 35. they swallowe vp the blessings of god without sence. But if reliefe be bestowed where the gospell is, then god shall not loose his ho­nour: for your releife through vs causeth thanksgiuing vnto god, saith the Apostle. If releife be bestowed vpon rogues and vagabonds, god can haue no such honour by it; but when releife is bestowed vpō such [Page 86] haue bene taught, that the meanes where­by men are comforted are as it were the handes of god wherby he conueieth nou­rishment vnto them, then god shall haue honour.

12 For the ministration of this seruice, not onely supplieth the necessities of the Saints, But also is aboundant by the thanksgiuing of many vnto God.

13 Which by the experiment of this mi­nistration, praise god for your voluntary submission to the gospell of Christ, and for your liberall distribution to them, and to all men.

14 And by their praier for you, desiring after you greatly for the aboundant grace of God in you.

15 Thankes therefore be vnto God for his vnspeakeably gift.

He commendeth gîuing of releife, first because their necessities are releiued, & thē because thereby also god is glorified. But before we speake of either of these, we are to consider of this word seruice; the word doth indifferently signifie any sacrifice that [Page] is offered vnto god or any publike office that a man is called vnto. But because the drift of the Apostle is to stirre vp vnto re­leife, we are to take it in the first sence, for that is fitter for this purpose then is the o­ther: especially seeing this tearme, a worde I meane of the like signification is vsed to set out the excellency of releife, Hebr. 13. 16. Act. 10. 4. Least the basenes of the parties vpon whome we are exercised in giuing of almes should hinder this duty, we are told that in this duty we are attennding v­pon the person of god himself, in the doing thereof we doe as it were offer sacrifices vnto god himselfe. In a family euery man is desirous to be imployed about those du­ties that concerne the master or the mi­stres her selfe, as to be their chamber ser­uants, to attend vpon them there: but to be further remooued from them, and to be occupied in duties in out-houses where they shall seldome see their master, though these seruices belong to the seruing of their master, yet being out of their masters sight they think that they are out of their mind: [Page 88] and therefore they had rather choose the former seruices that were spokē of before rather thē the other. The Apostle therfore tels vs that the giuing of almes is the best kinde of seruice that a man can deuise. Christ calls those the great commaunde­ments that concerne god himselfe, and the other that concernes men are like vnto them. This therefore in some sence being one of those great commaundements, the Lord in mercy must needs giue a great re­ward therevnto; it is saide that releife sup­plieth the necessities of god his seruants: men it may be had rather do duty to those that haue not such neede of their helpe, but this kinde of seruice is more acceptable vn­to God, for it is a better proofe and argu­ment of sound loue, then that seruice is which is imploied about those that be rich: and so by consequence the lord must needs like better of the one then of the other. It is a common saying, that true loue doth descend and not ascend; and therefore it is obserued that the grandfather or the father doth loue the child or the nephew, better [Page] then the childe or the nephewe doth loue the grādfather or the father. In giuing we must haue respect to the necessities of mē, which is a thing not so wel thought vpon, whereof it commeth to passe that men wil haue much speach about the prouision for some, but about the prouision for some o­ther they will haue no speach at all though their necessitie be much greater. To hane respect vnto the necessities of men in gi­uing, is much more acceptable thē to giue hand ouer head: & therfore if men would sit downe and inquire and take the names of such as stand in neede of helpe, in the places where they dwell, to consider of thē accordingly: this though it be troublesome yet it is a great deale more acceptable then penny or two-pēny doole. For the thinge which a man must aime at in giuing, is to distribute to the necessities of the Saints, Rom. 12. 13. Act. 2. 45. For men must ho­nour the poore in their kinde, as they ho­nour the rich in their kinde. And as to giue the more honour to him which is lesse honorable, can not be done without offe­ring [Page 90] wrong to the more honorable persō. So to honor those poore saints that haue most neede with the les releife, can not be doone without offeringe contempt vnto them. The other good that comes by gi­uing is thanksgiuing vnto god, we must be thākful vnto the means as the scripture techeth vs, Kings 8. 66. Rom 16. 4. But the lord must be the centure and the restinge place of our thanks, this thankfulnes is said to be better then any sacrifise psal 50. we are much called vpon for it, as psal 107. the passeouer, the sacramēt of the supper, were of purpose ordeined to stir vs vp to thank­fulnes. The cause wherfore the forbidding of meats is acounted the doctrine of diuils, is because it taketh away occasiō of thank­fulnes. 1. Timo 4. 3. The thing wherby the seruants of god haue mooued the lord to looke mercifully vpon them in their affli­ction hath bene the vowing of thankful­nesse. The thing which hath troubled the godly in their troubles and griefes hath beene this; namely, that the duty of thank­fulnesse hath then beene greately dimini­shed, [Page] Ioel, 1. 13. Seeing therefore that this ex­cellent duty is procured by giuing releife, this should be a notable motion to make vs forward this waies: and he doth amplify the matter when he saith that thanks shall be giuen by many. Many knowing the hardnesse of those times, no doubt prayed vnto God to open the hearts of men to re­gard their poore brethren: and when they heard that God had opened mens hearts they could not choose but be thankefull, 2. Cor. 1. 11. When many ioyne together in the duty of tankefulnesse, it makes those which doe giue thankes, to be more feruēt in that duty: euen as many stickes beeing laid vpon the fire makes the flame the greater; and the Lord loueth feruent praier and feruent thankefulnesse, Iam. 5. 16. The ho­nour of a King consisteth in the multitude of subiects; so doth the honour of God consist in the multitude os those which are truely thankefull vnto him.

13 They will praise God not onely for their maintenance and releife but because [Page 92] that thereby they testifie their true subie­ction to the Gospel, as chap. 8. 5. for the go­spel came from the Iewes whome they were to relieue: for we read, Act. 8. 4. that by the persecution of Steven those that kept altogether at Ierusalem before, were now scattered, and preached the word e­uery where amongst the Gentiles, in so much that it is alleadged as a reason by the Apostle: wherefore he would haue the Gentiles contribute to Ierusalem, because the Law came out of Sion. If the Gentiles be made partakers of their spiritual things, their dutie is also to minister vnto them in carnall things, Rom. 15. 27. saith the Apo­stle. We of the Gentiles were wild oliues, and therefore were to be planted into the naturall oliue before we could thriue. It is said Zachar. 8. 23. that tenne men of all lan­guages of the nations, shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Iew, and say we will goe with you, for we haue heard that God is with you: so that we see that the thanks that God should haue by this, should not be onely for relieuing of them, but for a grea­ter [Page 93] and a more excellent consideration. So that we are taught hereby, especially such of vs as are ministers of the word of God, wherefore and for what cause we should especially reioyce when God mooues his people to haue any comfortable considera­tion of vs, namely not so much because our bodies receiues some refreshing there­by, as it is an argument that they haue felt sweetnes and comfort in our ministerie, this should make vs triumph for ioy, for it makes the Angels in heauen to reioyce, Luk. 15. as it did also the people of the Iewes, Act. 11. They did professe the gos­pel before, but this that the Apostle here speakes of was an argument that it was the gospel I meane with much power a­mongst them. In that the Apostle doth so much commend the [voluntarie] submit­ting of a mans selfe to the truth, it is a que­stion with some whether men are to be forced to the exercises of religion: but it is plaine that they are to be forced thereunto by such as haue authoritie. For though the Lord doth not like of that mans seruice [Page 94] that commeth to the place where his ho­nour dwelleth with a constreyned minde, yet he liketh well of the seruice of the magistrates in this forme of duty, which is so willing to haue others be brought to religion that he forceth them therevnto when they will not be otherwise allured: and euen those that at the first are drawne by violence to heare the word of God, in continuance of time will come willingly therevnto: for it is onely the word of god which must procure an appetite. No man commeth vnto me, saith Christ, except my father araweth him. And there is none of vs which doe now most willingly submit our selues vnto the gospell, but at the first we came to heare it of custome, because others did so, or for noueltie, or for some other such respect: and we may hope so, because the Lord hath promised a blessing to correction. Correct the scorner, sath Sa­lomon, and the foolish will take heede, cha­sten this child for there is hope. But as for these men their giuing was an argument or manifest shewe of their voluntary sub­mitting [Page] of themselues to the Gospell, be­cause this releife was to be gathered by the consent or agreement of all churches, chap. 8. 24. The reasons which haue beene alleadged to bring men by force vnto the gospel, may serue also to prooue the like inforcement for releife, if otherwise men will not be brought or incouraged there­vnto. 14 If we would but consider that the Lord hath put a blessing into the handes of distressed persons, to bestowe vpon such as doe releeue them, Iob, 29. 13. then men would soone be brought to giue to the poore that they may pray for them, Ezra, 6. 10. It was the thing which made Darius so bountifull, that they might pray for the kings life & for the life of his sonne. This releife shall make all good men de­sire after them greately, which may be a very cheereful and comfortable assurance vnto vs that god himselfe doth regard vs, when the seruants of god doth long after vs. As the Lord of Hoastes liueth, saith Elisha vnto Ahab, in whose sight [Page 96] sight I stand; If it were not that I regarde the presence of Iehosaphat the king of Iu­da, I would not haue looked towards thee nor seene thee. It is a great fauour to haue such a one speake a good word for vs, to whose speech the prince wil most willing­ly harken: but the poore beeing such as God hath promised to giue the hearing vnto, it is therefore a greater benefit then we take it to be, to haue them pray for vs. Those which reserue all their gifts vntill after their death, doe neither giue any te­stimony that they trust not in vncertaine riches but in the liuing Lord, neither haue they this benefit of prayer which is is here spoken of: for to what purpose should men pray for them at such time when praier will do them no good. As this bene­fit of praier should set more a worke at all times to be bountifull, so when men are visited with sicknesse or any other greate trouble, the hope of finding releife there­by should set them aworke to be bounti­full, for the Lord hath promised mercie to the mercifull. 15 The Apostle beeing [Page] perswaded that he should not loose his wordes, as if the thing which he perswads them vnto had beene already done, he breaketh forth into thanksgiuing for it: & least any should thinke that he had spoken as much for releife as can possibly be saide or conceiued: he saith that is an vnspekable gift of God, and none of his ordinarie gifts to releiue the poore Saints of god: the wi­dows shewed the garments for the poore which Dorcas had made, and that not af­ter her death, but whilest shee was aliue with them, Act. 9. 39. thinking that if any thing would be a meanes to cause Peter to lift vp feruent grones vnto the Lord, as he might restore her to them againe, that would doe it.

FINIS.

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