However, the one who receives instruction in the word must share in all good things with his instructor.
I. WHEN THIS LIFE IS LOOKED UPON AS SEED-TIME, WE ARE PROJECTED OF NECESSITY FOR OUR HARVEST UPON ANOTHER AND BETTER LIFE, The mistake many make is in turning this life into harvest and looking on what it affords as all. It makes a mighty difference if I am living in the autumn only and am for ever past the spring. Now, Christianity, as the religion of hope, leads us to this view of the present life. It is only seed-time. The harvest is not yet. No refinement of speculation can be allowed to cheat us of our assurance of immortality. We are only in the spring. The summer and the autumn are before us.
II. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE FLESH HAVE A FEARFUL HARVEST BEFORE THEM. (Ver. 8.) Now, it is well for us to remember here that ritualism, or salvation by ceremonies, is the error mainly attacked in this Epistle. And a careful study of Paul's writings shows that he puts this into the same category as the sins of the flesh. "Whereas there is among you," said he to the Corinthians, "envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" The exclusiveness of the ceremonialists was a bondage to the elements of the world. "The Law," it has been powerfully said, "was properly a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; but in so far as its temporary disciplinary character was lost sight of - so far as it was made a ground of national exclusiveness, and its observance a matter of personal pride - it cut its votaries off from the righteousness of God, which is essentially a derived, communicated, and universal righteousness; not of works, but of grace; not for a peculiar people, but for all men. They were living, not in the freedom and self-abandonment of the Spirit, but in the exclusiveness and selfishness of the flesh." Hence the sowing to the flesh, in its more elevated or more degraded forms, can have only one issue, and this is "corruption." What comes of the exclusiveness and fair show in the flesh? Does it promote spiritual interests? Is it not productive of vain-glory and of the corrupt, self-righteous spirit? The harvest is one of disappointment. It profiteth nothing. Into the corruption to which the grosser sins of the flesh lead we need not here enter with any particularity.
III. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE SPIRIT SHALL REAP ETERNAL LIFE. (Ver. 8.) The sowing to the Spirit is the antithesis of sowing to the flesh. It means living with spiritual and immortal aims. It means, as the succeeding context shows, the life of active philanthropy. Now, a harvest of "eternal life" (Revised Version) is before all such philanthropists. Their life on earth is a seed-time which has this immortal harvest. The very life of God, who is eternal, becomes ours, and its fulness within us is just proportional to our present diligence in philanthropy.
IV. THIS SHOULD LEAD TO GREAT PATIENCE AND COURAGE IN OUR WORK. (Ver. 9.) We should not faint or get weary in our well-doing. Work along this line is sure to tell. Let us not be discouraged. Let us give the first place in our philanthropy to "the household of faith," and the second place to "all men" indiscriminately. Let us honestly be public benefactors, and a multiplication of blessing will be found awaiting us when the harvest comes, beyond our most sanguine hopes. The patience of hope is the attitude of every believing soul, and the harvest is in a wealth of life beyond the shadows proportional to our philanthropic spirit here. - R.M.E.
Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
(Calvin.)I do not love to expound such sentences which speak for us that are ministers of the Word; moreover, it may look, if one is zealous to treat such texts before the people, as if he did it on account of avarice. But one must nevertheless instruct the people thereabout, that they may know what degree of honour and support they owe to their teachers. This is also good for us, that are in the ministry, to know that we may not take our deserved recompense with uneasy conscience, as if we had no right to it.
(Starke.)I. A CHILDREN ARE BOUND TO MAINTAIN THEIR PARENTS (1 Timothy 5:4), so believers their spiritual parents (Galatians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 4:15).
II. THE OLD TESTAMENT ENJOINS THIS (Deuteronomy 12:19), much more the New.
III. EVERY CALLING MAINTAINS THOSE WHO LIVE THEREIN: the highest calling should do no less.
IV. MINISTERS ARE GOD'S SOLDIERS, and should not go a warfare at their own cost; the Lord's LABOURERS, and therefore worthy of their hire; the Lord's SHEPHERDS, and thereforeworthy the milk of the flock (see also Deuteronomy 25:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10; 1 Timothy 5:17).
VI. IT IS THE ORDINANCE OF GOD that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14).
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
(Dr. Haven.)It is my intention to expound and to defend this financial law of the Christian Church: "Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."
I. LET US EXPOUND THIS FINANCIAL LAW OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. The phrase "in all good things" may be connected either with the words "him that teacheth;" or with the words "him that communicateth." It may mean either, first, "Let him who is instructed in all good things communicate to him who thus instructs him;" or, secondly, "Let him who is instructed communicate all good things to him who instructs him." The necessity of a distinct order of men for the purpose of Christian instruction might be easily rested on rational principles. But I choose rather now to appeal to the will of the great Legislator" I appeal to that passage contained in Ephesians 4.: "When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men;" and among these gifts he gave "pastors and teachers." It is plain, from Scripture, that there ought to be an order of men devoted to this work. It is evident, also, that they should devote their whole time and attention to its duties: this might be grounded on rational principles, arising from the nature and number of the subjects which must necessarily be included in such instructions; but here, again, I shall refer to the will of the great Lawgiver. His determination is, that those who minister should "wait on their ministering, and he that teacheth, on teaching;" that such should "give attendance to reading and exhortation;" that they should "meditate upon these things," and "give themselves wholly to them." We are not to look at this subject as we look at our Missionary Societies, and Bible and Educational Societies: these are human institutions, and we may support them by human plans; but the Christian ministry is a divinely appointed means for a divinely appointed end; and the means of its support are divinely appointed too. We may as much err by using means different from those which Christ has instituted, as if we lost sight of the end itself.
II. LET US DEFEND THIS FINANCIAL LAW OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Like all the other laws of Christ it is "holy, just, and good." It is an arrangement which is alike just, generous, and useful.
1. It is a just arrangement.
2. This is a generous as well as a just principle. Men who thus believe are brought under the influence of the love of Christ; and on this principle Christ secures the maintenance of His ministers in Christian Churches to the end of time.
3. This is a useful arrangement also. But OBJECTIONS have been made. First, it is said, "Such an arrangement has a great tendency to degrade the Christian ministry." In one sense we may ask, Do such persons expect the Christian minister to be altogether independent? We are all dependent, and must necessarily be so. And who applies this mode of reasoning to other professions? Who would think of saying of a lawyer, or of a medical man, that they are low-spirited, time-serving, dependent men, because the one is dependent on his clients, and the other on his patients, for subsistence. Are they degraded by such dependence as this? Is the minister of Christ to be degraded, because he is supported by the same means by which Christ his Master was supported? It may seem strange that those who are to be accounted "worthy of double honour," should be dependent for their support on the bounty of others. But when it is founded on such a principle as Christian love, I know not of a more honourable way than to be dependent on the will and love of others. Secondly, as to the objection that "this arrangement throws difficulties in the way of the minister, by making it necessary for him to submit to much in order to cultivate the good-will of those to whom he preaches." But let them continue a Christian people, and then tell me how such a man should please such a people but by doing his duty towards them as a Christian minister. Thirdly, it is objected that "it makes the subsistence of Christian ministers uncertain; and that it endangers the existence of the Christian ministry, and by this means, Christianity itself." I might say here, that all below is insecure; but I would say also, it does not appear that the subsistence of the Christian minister is more uncertain than that of other men.
(J. Brown, M. A.)
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