2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
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(8) God is able to make all grace abound toward you.—The word “grace” must be taken with somewhat of the same latitude as in 2Corinthians 8:6-7; 2Corinthians 8:19, including every form of bounty, as well as “grace,” in its restricted theological sense: the means of giving, as well as cheerfulness in the act. He will bless the increase of those who give cheerfully, that they may have, not indeed the superfluity which ministers to selfish luxury, but the sufficiency with which all true disciples ought to be content. In the word “sufficiency,” which occurs only here and in 1Timothy 6:6 (“godliness with contentment”), we have another instance of St. Paul’s accurate use of the terminology of Greek ethical writers. To be independent, self-sufficing, was with them the crown of the perfect life; and Aristotle vindicates that quality for happiness as he defines it, as consisting in the activity of the intellect, and thus distinguished from wealth and pleasure, and the other accidents of life which men constantly mistook for it (Eth. Nicom. x., c. 7). At the time when St. Paul wrote it was constantly on the lips of Stoics. (Comp. the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, iii. c. 11.)

2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 9:8In addition to all his other qualities the Apostle was an extremely good man of business; and he had a field for the exercise of that quality in the collection for the poor saints of Judea, which takes up so much of this letter, and occupied for so long a period so much of his thoughts and efforts. It was for the sake of showing by actual demonstration that would ‘touch the hearts’ of the Jewish brethren, the absolute unity of the two halves of the Church, the Gentile and the Jewish, that the Apostle took so much trouble in this matter. The words which I have read for my text come in the midst of a very earnest appeal to the Corinthian Christians for their pecuniary help. He is dwelling upon the same thought which is expressed in the well-known words: ‘What I gave I kept; what I kept I lost.’

But whilst the words of my text primarily applied to money matters, you see that they are studiously general, universal. The Apostle, after his fashion, is lifting up a little ‘secular’ affair into a high spiritual region; and he lays down in my text a broad general law, which goes to the very depths of the Christian life.

Now, notice, we have here in three clauses three stages which we may venture to distinguish as the fountain, the basin, the stream. ‘God is able to make all grace abound toward you’;--there is the fountain. ‘That ye always, having all-sufficiency in all things’;--there is the basin that receives the gush from the fountain. ‘May abound in every good work’;--there is the steam that comes from the basin. The fountain pours into the basin, that the flow from the basin may feed the stream.

Now this thought of Paul’s goes to the heart of things. So let us look at it.

I. The Fountain.

The Christian life in all its aspects and experiences is an outflow from the ‘the Fountain of Life,’ the giving God. Observe how emphatically the Apostle, in the context, accumulates words that express universality: ‘_all_ grace . . . _all_-sufficiency for _all_ things . . . _every_ good work.’ But even these expressions do not satisfy Paul, and he has to repeat the word ‘abound,’ in order to give some faint idea of his conception of the full tide which gushes from the fountain. It is ‘all grace,’ and it is abounding grace.

Now what does he mean by ‘grace’? That word is a kind of shorthand for the whole sum of the unmerited blessings which come to men through Jesus Christ. Primarily, it describes what we, for want of a better expression, have to call a ‘disposition’ in the divine nature; and it means, then, if so looked at, the unconditioned, undeserved, spontaneous, eternal, stooping, pardoning love of God. That is grace, in the primary New Testament use of the phrase.

But there are no idle ‘dispositions’ in God. They are always energising, and so the word glides from meaning the disposition, to meaning the manifestation and activities of it, and the ‘grace’ of our Lord is that love in exercise. And then, since the divine energies are never fruitless, the word passes over, further, to mean all the blessed and beautiful things in a soul which are the consequences of the Promethean truth of God’s loving hand, the outcome in life of the inward bestowment which has its cause, its sole cause, in God’s ceaseless, unexhausted love, unmerited and free.

That, very superficially and inadequately set forth, is at least a glimpse into the fulness and greatness of meaning that lies in that profound New Testament word, ‘grace.’ But the Apostle here puts emphasis on the variety of forms which the one divine gift assumes. It is ‘_all_ grace’ which God is able to make abound toward you. So then, you see this one transcendent gift from the divine heart, when it comes into our human experience, is like a meteor when it passes into the atmosphere of earth, and catches fire and blazes, showering out a multitude of radiant points of light. The grace is many-sided--many-sided to us, but one in its source and in its character. For at bottom, that which God in His grace gives to us as His grace is what? Himself; or if you like to put it in another form, which comes to the same thing--new life through Jesus Christ. That is the encyclopædiacal gift, which contains within itself all grace. And just as the physical life in each of us, one in all its manifestations, produces many results, and shines in the eye, and blushes in the cheek, and gives strength to the arm, and flexibility and deftness to the fingers and swiftness to the foot: so also is that one grace which, being manifold in its manifestations, is one in its essence. There are many graces, there is one Grace.

But this grace is not only many-sided, but abounding. It is not congruous with God’s wealth, nor with His love, that He should give scantily, or, as it were, should open but a finger of the hand that is full of His gifts, and let out a little at a time. There are no sluices on that great stream so as to regulate its flow, and to give sometimes a painful trickle and sometimes a full gush, but this fountain is always pouring itself out, and it ‘abounds.’

But then we are pulled up short by another word in this first clause: ‘God is _able_ to make.’ Paul does not say, ‘God will make.’ He puts the whole weight of responsibility for that ability becoming operative upon us. There are conditions; and although we may have access to that full fountain, it will not pour on us ‘all grace’ and ‘abundant grace,’ unless we observe these, and so turn God’s ability to give into actual giving. And how do we do that? By desire, by expectance, by petition, by faithful stewardship. If we have these things, if we have tutored ourselves, and experience has helped in the tuition, to make large our expectancy, God will smile down upon us and ‘do exceeding abundantly above all’ that we ‘think’ as well as above all that we ‘ask.’ Brethren, if our supplies are scant, when the full fountain is gushing at our sides, we are ‘not straitened in God, we are straitened in ourselves.’ Christian possibilities are Christian obligations, and what we might have and do not have, is our condemnation.

I turn, in the next place, to what I have, perhaps too fancifully, called

II. The Basin.

‘God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, having always all-sufficiency in all things, may,’ . . . etc.

The result of all this many-sided and exuberant outpouring of grace from the fountain is that the basin may be full. Considering the infinite source and the small receptacle, we might have expected something more than ‘sufficiency’ to have resulted.

Divine grace is sufficient. Is it not more than sufficient? Yes, no doubt. But what Paul wishes us to feel is this--to put it into very plain English--that the good gifts of the divine grace will always be proportioned to our work, and to our sufferings too. We shall feel that we have enough, if we are as we ought to be. Sufficiency is more than a man gets anywhere else. ‘Enough is as good as a feast.’ And if we have strength, which we may have, to do the day’s tasks, and strength to carry the day’s crosses, and strength to accept the day’s sorrows, and strength to master the day’s temptations, that is as much as we need wish to have, even out of the fulness of God. And we shall get it, dear brethren, if we will only fulfil the conditions. If we exercise expectance, and desire and petition and faithful stewardship, we shall get what we need. ‘Thy shoes shall be iron and brass,’ if the road is a steep and rocky one that would wear out leather. ‘As thy days so shall thy strength be.’ God does not hurl His soldiers in a blundering attack on some impregnable mountain, where they are slain in heaps at the base; but when He lays a commandment on my shoulders, He infuses strength into me, and according to the good homely old saying that has brought comfort to many a sad and weighted heart, makes the back to bear the burden. The heavy task or the crushing sorrow is often the key that opens the door of God’s treasure-house. You have had very little experience either of life or of Christian life, if you have not learnt by this time that the harder your work, and the darker your sorrows, the mightier have been God’s supports, and the more starry the lights that have shone upon your path. ‘That ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things.’

One more word: this sufficiency _should be_ more uniform, _is_ uniform in the divine intention, and in so far as the flow of the fountain is concerned. Always having had I may be sure that I always shall have. Of course I know that, in so far as our physical nature conditions our spiritual experience, there will be ups and downs, moments of emancipation and moments of slavery. There will be times when the flower opens, and times when it shuts itself up. But I am sure that the great mass of Christian people might have a far more level temperature in their Christian experience than they have; that we could, if we would, have far more experimental knowledge of this ‘always’ of my text. God means that the basin should be always full right up to the top of the marble edge, and that the more is drawn off from it, the more should flow into it. But it is very often like the reservoirs in the hills for some great city in a drought, where great stretches of the bottom are exposed, and again, when the drought breaks, are full to the top of the retaining wall. That should not be. Our Christian life should run on the high levels. Why does it not? Possibilities are duties.

And now, lastly, we have here what, adhering to my metaphor, I call

III. The stream.

‘That ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.’

That is what God gives us His grace for; and that is a very important consideration. The end of God’s dealings with us, poor, weak, sinful creatures, is character and conduct. Of course you can state the end in a great many other ways; but there have been terrible evils arising from the way in which Evangelical preachers have too often talked, as if the end of God’s dealings with us was the vague thing which they call ‘salvation,’ and by which many of their hearers take them to mean neither more nor less than dodging Hell. But the New Testament, with all its mysticism, even when it soars highest, and speaks most about the perfection of humanity, and the end of God’s dealings being that we may be ‘filled with the fulness of God,’ never loses its wholesome, sane hold of the common moralities of daily life, and proclaims that we receive all, in order that we may be able to ‘maintain good works for necessary uses.’ And if we lay that to heart, and remember that a correct creed, and a living faith, and precious, select, inward emotions and experiences are all intended to evolve into lives, filled and radiant with common moralities and ‘good works’--not meaning thereby the things which go by that name in popular phraseology, but ‘whatsoever things are lovely . . . and of good report’--then we shall understand a little better what we are here for and what Jesus Christ died for, and what His Spirit is given and lives in us for. So ‘good works’ is the end, in one very important aspect, of all that avalanche of grace which has been from eternity rushing down upon us from the heights of God.

There is one more thing to note, and that is that, in our character and conduct, we should copy the ‘giving grace.’ Look how eloquently and significantly, in the first and last clauses of my text, the same words recur. ‘God is able to make _all_ grace abound, that ye may _abound_ in _all_ good work.’ Copy God in the many-sidedness and in the copiousness of the good that flows out from your life and conduct, because of your possession of that divine grace. And remember, ‘to him that hath shall be given.’ We pray for more grace; we need to pray for that, no doubt. Do we use the grace that God has given us? If we do not, the remainder of that great word which I have just quoted will be fulfilled in you. God forbid that any of us should receive the grace of God in vain, and therefore come under the stern and inevitable sentence, ‘From him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he hath!’

2 Corinthians 9:8-9. And God is able, &c. — The contents of this verse are very remarkable; each expression is loaded with matter, which increases as the sentence proceeds; God is able to make — And will make, see on Romans 4:21; all grace — Every kind of blessing, as the word here appears to signify; to abound toward you — And to supply you abundantly with the means of liberality; that ye, always having all sufficiency — Enough to enable you to relieve others in their necessities; in all things — That he sees good for you; may abound to every good work — That ye may go on with new enlargement and vigour in doing every good in your power, without finding your circumstances straitened. God confers his gifts upon us that we may do good therewith, and so may receive still greater blessings. All things in this life, even rewards, are to the faithful seeds, in order to a future harvest. As it is written — Of the truly liberal and charitable man; He hath dispersed abroad, &c. — With a full hand, without any anxious thought which way each grain falls. This is an allusion to a person who, in sowing seed, scatters it plentifully. And the image beautifully represents both the good-will with which the liberal distribute their alms, and the many needy persons on whom they are bestowed. His righteousness — His beneficence, (as the expression here means,) with the blessed effects of it; remaineth for ever — Unexhausted, God still renewing his store. In other words, He shall always have enough wherewith to exercise his bounty in works of mercy, (2 Corinthians 9:11,) and this act of obedience shall have an eternal reward.

9:6-15 Money bestowed in charity, may to the carnal mind seem thrown away, but when given from proper principles, it is seed sown, from which a valuable increase may be expected. It should be given carefully. Works of charity, like other good works, should be done with thought and design. Due thought, as to our circumstances, and those we are about to relieve, will direct our gifts for charitable uses. Help should be given freely, be it more or less; not grudgingly, but cheerfully. While some scatter, and yet increase; others withhold more than is meet, and it tends to poverty. If we had more faith and love, we should waste less on ourselves, and sow more in hope of a plentiful increase. Can a man lose by doing that with which God is pleased? He is able to make all grace abound towards us, and to abound in us; to give a large increase of spiritual and of temporal good things. He can make us to have enough in all things; and to be content with what we have. God gives not only enough for ourselves, but that also wherewith we may supply the wants of others, and this should be as seed to be sown. We must show the reality of our subjection to the gospel, by works of charity. This will be for the credit of our profession, and to the praise and glory of God. Let us endeavour to copy the example of Christ, being unwearied in doing good, and deeming it more blessed to give than to receive. Blessed be God for the unspeakable gift of his grace, whereby he enables and inclines some of his people to bestow upon others, and others to be grateful for it; and blessed be his glorious name to all eternity, for Jesus Christ, that inestimable gift of his love, through whom this and every other good thing, pertaining to life and godliness, are freely given unto us, beyond all expression, measure, or bounds.And God is able ... - Do not suppose that by giving liberally you will be impoverished and reduced to want. You should rather confide in God, who is able to furnish you abundantly with what is needful for the supply of your necessities. Few persons are ever reduced to poverty by liberality. Perhaps in the whole circle of his acquaintance it would be difficult for an individual to point out one who has been impoverished or made the poorer in this way. Our selfishness is generally a sufficient guard against this; but it is also to be added, that the divine blessing rests upon the liberal man, and that God keeps him from want. But in the meantime there are multitudes who are made poor by the lack of liberality. They are parsimonious in giving but they are extravagant in dress, and luxury, and in expenses for amusement or vice, and the consequence is poverty and want. "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty;" Proverbs 11:24. The divine blessing rests upon the liberal: and while every person should make a proper provision for his family, every one should give liberally, confiding in God that he will furnish the supplies for our future needs. Let this maxim be borne in mind, that no one is usually made the poorer by being liberal.

All grace - All kinds of favor. He is able to impart to you those things which are needful for your welfare.

That ye always ... - The sense is, "If you give liberally you are to expect that God will furnish you with the means, so that you will be able to abound more and more in it." You are to expect that he will abundantly qualify you for doing good in every way, and that he will furnish you with all that is needful for this. The man who gives, therefore, should have faith in God. He should expect that God will bless him in it; and the experience of the Christian world may be appealed to in proof that people are not made poor by liberality.

8. all grace—even in external goods, and even while ye bestow on others [Bengel].

that—"in order that." God's gifts are bestowed on us, not that we may have them to ourselves, but that we may the more "abound in good works" to others.

sufficiency—so as not to need the help of others, having yourselves from God "bread for your food" (2Co 9:10).

in all things—Greek, "in everything."

every good work—of charity to others, which will be "your seed sown" (2Co 9:10).

Having made God, in the verse before, a debtor to those who, by giving to poor distressed saints, would make him their creditor, he here proveth him to be no insolvent debtor, but able to do much more for them, than they in this thing should do at his command out of love to him.

He is (saith he)

able to make all grace to abound toward you: the word translated

grace, signifieth all sorts of gifts, whether of a temporal or spiritual nature; and being here applied to God, (who is the Author of all gifts), it may very properly be interpreted concerning both. God is able to repay you in temporal things what you thus lend him, and so to pay you in specie; and he is able to pay you in value, by spiritual habits and influences.

That ye, always having all sufficieney in all things, may abound to every good work; that you may have a sufficieney in all things, so as that you may abound to and in every good work.

And God is able to make all grace abound towards you,.... By "all grace" is meant, not the love and favour of God, the source of all blessings enjoyed in time and eternity; nor the blessings of grace, the fruits of it; nor the Gospel which reveals them; nor the various graces of the Spirit implanted in regeneration; nor gifts of grace, fitting men for ministerial service; all which God is able to make to abound, and does, when he gives enlarged discoveries of his love, makes fresh applications of covenant grace, leads more fully into the knowledge of his Gospel, carries on the work of his grace in the soul, and calls forth grace into act and exercise, and increases gifts bestowed; nor even merely temporal blessings of every sort, which men are unworthy of, are all the gifts of his goodness, and are given to his people in a covenant way; and which he can, and often does increase: but by it is meant all that goodness, beneficence, and liberality exercised towards the poor members of Christ; God is able, and he will, and it ought to be believed that he will, cause to return with an increase, all that which is expended in relieving the necessities of the saints; that is not thrown away and lost, which is communicated to them, but shall be repaid with use and interest, be restored with abundance, any more than the seed which the husbandman casts into the earth; for as God is able, and has promised, and will, and does cause that to spring up again, and bring forth an abundant increase, so will he multiply the seed of beneficence, and increase the fruits of righteousness. This now contains a new argument to move to liberality, and an antidote against the fears of want, which persons are sometimes pressed with, and tend to prevent their bountiful acts of charity:

that ye always having all sufficiency in all things: that is, God is able to increase, and will so increase your worldly substance, that you shall have a sufficiency, a perfect and entire sufficiency; enough for yourselves and families, for the entertainment of your friends, and the relief of the poor; which shall give you satisfaction and contentment, and that at all times, and with respect to everything necessary for you, as to food and raiment, that so ye may abound to every good work; as to all good works, so to this of beneficence in particular, and to every branch of it, as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and the like.

And God is able to make {f} all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to {g} every good work:

(f) All the bountiful liberality of God.

(g) To help others by all means possible, in doing them good in their needs.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ff. After Paul has aroused them to ample and willing giving, he adds further the assurance, that God can bestow (2 Corinthians 9:8-9), and will bestow (2 Corinthians 9:10-11) on them the means also for such beneficence. Finally, he subjoins the religious gain, which this work of contributing brings, 2 Corinthians 9:11, ἥτις κατεργάζεται κ.τ.λ., on to 2 Corinthians 9:14.

2 Corinthians 9:8. The δέ is continuative; δυνατός, however, is with, emphasis prefixed, for the course of thought is: God has the power, and (2 Corinthians 9:10) He will also do it. The discourse sets out from possibility, and passes over to reality.

πᾶσαν χάριν] every showing of kindness. This refers to earthly blessing, by which we have the means for beneficence; see the sentence of aim, that follows. Chrysostom correctly says: ἐμπλῆσαι ὑμᾶς τοσούτων ὡς δύνασθαι περιττεύειν ἐν τῇ φιλοτιμίᾳ ταύτῃ. Theodoret and Wolf, at variance with the context, hold that it applies to spiritual blessings; Flatt and Osiander, to blessings of both kinds.

περισσεῦσαι] transitive: efficere ut largissime redundet in vos. See on 2 Corinthians 4:15.

ἐν παντὶ πάντοτε πᾶσαν] in all points at all times all, an energetic accumulation. Comp. on Ephesians 5:20; Php 1:3-4.

πᾶσαν αὐτάρκειαν ἔχοντες] having every, that is, all possible self-sufficing; for this is the subjective condition, without which we cannot, with all blessing of God, have abundance εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν. Hence Paul brings out so emphatically this necessary subjective requirement for attaining the purpose, which God connects with his objective blessing: in order that you, as being in every case always quite self-contented, etc. Αὐτάρκεια is not the sufficienter habere in the sense of external position, in which no help from others is needed (as it is taken usually; also by Emmerling, Flatt, Rückert, Osiander), but rather (comp. Hofmann also) the subjective frame of mind, in which we feel ourselves so contented with what we ourselves have that we desire nothing from others,—the inward self-sufficing, to which stands opposed the προσδεὲς ἄλλων (Plato, Tim. p. 33 D) and ἐπιθυμεῖν τῶν ἀλλοτρίων. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:6; Php 4:11, and the passages in Wetstein. It is a moral quality (for which reason Paul could say so earnestly ἐν παντὶ πάντ. πᾶσ., without saying too much), may subsist amidst very different external circumstances, and is not dependent on these,—which, indeed, in its very nature, as τελειότης κτήσεως ἀγαθῶν (Plato, Def. p. 412 B), it cannot be. Comp. Dem. 450. 14; Polyb. vi. 48. 7 : πρὸς πᾶσαν περίστασιν αὐτάρκης.

περισσεύητε εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν] that you may have abundance (comp. ἐν παντὶ πλουτιζόμενοι, 2 Corinthians 9:11) for every good work (work of beneficence; comp. Acts 9:36, and see Knapp, Opusc., ed. 1, p. 486 ff.). If Rückert had not taken αὐτάρκεια in an objective sense at variance with the notion, he would not have refined so much on περισσ., which he understands as referring to the growth of the Corinthians themselves: “in order that you, having at all times full sufficiency … may become ever more diligent unto every good work.” De Wette also refines on the word, taking the participial clause of that, which in spite of the περισσεῦσαι takes place in the same: “inasmuch as you have withal for yourselves quite enough,” which would present a very external and selfish consideration to the reader, and that withal expressed of set purpose so strongly!

2 Corinthians 9:8. δυνατεῖ δὲ ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ.: and God is powerful (see reff. 2 Corinthians 13:3) to make all grace, i.e., every gift, temporal as well as spiritual, abound unto you (see reff. 2 Corinthians 4:15 for περισσεύω in a transitive signification), in order that ye, having always all sufficiency, sc., of worldly goods and gifts (for πᾶσαν see reff. 2 Corinthians 8:7). may abound unto every good work. Note the paronomasia, ἐν παντὶ, πάντοτε, πᾶσανπερισσεύητεπᾶν.

8. all grace] See notes on grace elsewhere, esp. ch. 2 Corinthians 8:6 and 2 Corinthians 9:15 of this chapter; also cf. 1 Corinthians 16:3. The meaning here is ‘God is able to make every gift of His loving-kindness to abound to you, that you, being thus enriched, may impart of His bounty to others.’

sufficiency] This is translated contentment in 1 Timothy 6:6, while the corresponding adjective is rendered content in Php 4:11. But 1 Timothy 6:8 explains the meaning of the word. It is the state of mind which, needing nothing but the barest necessaries, regards all other things as superfluities, to be parted with whenever the needs of others require them. This is the force of the words ‘all’ twice repeated, and ‘always.’ At all times, save when he is actually deprived of food and raiment, the Christian ought to regard himself as having enough. It is worthy of remark that this self-sufficingness was a favourite virtue with heathen philosophers, though destitute, in the case of the Stoics, of all the gentler and more attractive aspects in which it has been wont to present itself among Christians. The use of this word, as of the word noticed in 2 Corinthians 9:7, seems to shew that St Paul was well acquainted with the philosophy of Aristotle. See also note on ch. 2 Corinthians 8:14.

2 Corinthians 9:8. Πᾶσαν χάριν, all grace) even in external goods.—περισσεῦσαι, to render abundant) even while you bestow.—ἵνα, that) What is given to us is so given and we have it, not that we may have, but that we may do well therewith. All things in this life, even rewards, are seeds to believers for the future harvest.—αὐτάρκειαν, sufficiency) that you may not require another’s liberality. To this is to be referred the bread, 2 Corinthians 9:10.—ἀγαθὸν, good) in regard to the needy. To this the seed is to be referred, 2 Corinthians 9:10.

Verse 8. - To make all grace abound toward you. God can give you such abundant gifts that you will not feel the loss of a generous contribution to his service. Sufficiency. The word autarkeia (1 Timothy 6:6) in the Stoic philosophy was used for the perfect independence which enabled a man to stand alone. The term is here softened and Christianized to express the contentment which arises from the full supply of all our needs by God. The affirmations of the original are as emphatic as language can make them. They express that the man who places all his trust upon God will be "perfect and entire, lacking nothing" (Philippians 4:11, 19). 2 Corinthians 9:8Always - all - in everything

Nearly reproducing the play on the word all in the Greek.

Sufficiency (αὐτάρκειαν)

Only here and 1 Timothy 6:6. The kindred adjective αὐταρκης A.V., content, occurs Philippians 4:11 (see note). The word properly means self-sufficiency, and is one of those which show Paul's acquaintance with Stoicism, and the influence of its vocabulary upon his own. It expressed the Stoic conception of the wise man as being sufficient in himself, wanting nothing and possessing everything. Here, not in the sense of sufficiency of worldly goods, but of that moral quality, bound up with self-consecration and faith, which renders the new self in Christ independent of external circumstances.

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