All Commentaries on 2 Corinthians 9:15 Go To 2 Corinthians 9
And here he calls gift, even those so many good things which are wrought by almsgiving, both to them that receive and them that give; or else, those unspeakable good things which through His advent He gave unto the whole world with great munificence, which one may suspect to be the most probable. For that he may at once both sober, and make them more liberal, he puts them in mind of the benefits they had received from God. For this avails very greatly in inciting unto all virtue; and therefore he concluded his discourse with it. But if His Gift be unspeakable, what can match their frenzy who raise curious questions as to His Essence? But not only is His Gift unspeakable, but that peace also passes all understanding, Philippians 4:7 whereby He reconciled the things which are above with those which are below.
3. Seeing then that we are in the enjoyment of so great grace, let us strive to exhibit a virtue of life worthy of it, and to make much account of almsgiving. And this we shall do, if we shun excess and drunkenness and gluttony. For God gave meat and drink not for excess, but for nourishment. For it is not the wine that produces drunkenness, for if that were the case, every body would needs be drunken. 'But,' says one, 'it would be better, if even to drink it largely did not injure.' These are drunkards' words. For if to drink it largely does injure, and yet not even so you desist from your excess in it; if this is so disgraceful and injurious, and yet you cease not even so from your depraved longing; if it were possible both to drink largely and be nothing harmed, where would you have stayed in your excess? Would you not have longed that the rivers even might become wine? Would you not have destroyed and ruined everything? If there is a mean in food which when we overpass we are injured, and yet even so you can not bear the curb, but snapping it as under seizest on what every body else has, to minister to the wicked tyranny of this gluttony; what would you not have done, if this natural mean were abolished? Would you not have spent your whole time upon it? Would it then have been well to strengthen a lust so unreasonable, and not prevent the harm arising from excess? And to how many other harms would not this have given birth?
But O the senseless ones! Who wallowing as in mire, in drunkeness and all other debauchery, when they have got a little sober again, sit down and do nothing but utter such sort of sayings, 'Why does this end in this way?' when they ought to be condemning their own transgressions. For instead of what thou now sayest, 'Why has He set bounds? Why do not all things go on without any order?' say, 'Why do we not cease from being drunken? Why are we never satiated? Why are we more senseless than creatures without reason?' For these things they ought to ask one another, and to hearken to the voice of the Apostle and learn how many good things he witnesses to the Corinthians proceed from almsgiving, and to seize upon this treasure. For to contemn money makes men approved, as he said; and provides that God be glorified; and warms love; and works in men loftiness of soul; and constitutes them priests, yea of a priesthood that brings great reward. For the merciful man is not arrayed in a vest reaching to the feet, nor does he carry about bells, nor wear a crown; but he is wrapped in the robe of loving-kindness, a holier than the sacred vestment; and is anointed with oil, not composed of material elements, but produced by the Spirit, and he bears a crown of mercies, for it is said, Who crowns you with pity and mercies; Psalm 103:4 and instead of wearing a plate bearing the Name of God, is himself like to God. For how? You, says He, shall be like unto your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:45
Would you see His altar also? Bezaleel built it not, nor any other but God Himself; not of stones, but of a material brighter than the heaven, of reasonable souls. But the priest enters into the holy of holies. Into yet more awful places may thou enter when you offer this sacrifice, where none is present but your Father, Which sees in secret, Matthew 6:4 where no other beholds. 'And how,' says one, 'is it possible that none should behold, when the altar stands in public view?' Because this it is that is admirable, that in those times double doors and veils made the seclusion: but now, though doing your sacrifice in public view, you may do it as in the holy of holies, and in a far more awful manner. For when you do it not for display before men; though the whole world has seen, none has seen, because you have so done it. For He said not simply, Do it not before men, but added, to be seen of them. Matthew 6:1 This altar is composed of the very members of Christ, and the body of the Lord is made your altar. That then revere; on the flesh of the Lord you sacrifice the victim. This altar is more awful even than this which we now use, not only than that used of old. Nay, clamor not. For this altar is admirable because of the sacrifice that is laid upon it: but that, the merciful man's, not only on this account, but also because it is even composed of the very sacrifice which makes the other to be admired. Again, this is but a stone by nature; but become holy because it receives Christ's Body: but that is holy because it is itself Christ's Body. So that this beside which thou, the layman, standest, is more awful than that. Whether then does Aaron seem to you anything in comparison of this, or his crown, or his bells, or the holy of holies? For what need is there henceforth to make our comparison refer to Aaron's altar, when even compared with this, it has been shown to be so glorious? But you honor indeed this altar, because it receives Christ's body; but him that is himself the body of Christ you treat with contumely, and when perishing, neglectest. This altar may thou everywhere see lying, both in lanes and in market places, and may sacrifice upon it every hour; for on this too is sacrifice performed. And as the priest stands invoking the Spirit, so do you too invoke the Spirit, not by speech, but by deeds. For nothing does so sustain and kindle the fire of the Spirit, as this oil largely poured out. But if you would see also what becomes of the things laid upon it, come hither, and I will show you them. What then is the smoke, what the sweet savor of this altar? Praise and thanksgiving. And how far does it ascend? As far as unto heaven? By no means, but it passes beyond the heaven itself, and the heaven of heaven, and arrives even at the throne of the King. For, Your prayers, says he, and your alms have come up before God. Acts 10:4 And the sweet savor which the sense perceives pierces not far into the air, but this opened the very vault of heaven. And thou indeed art silent, but your work speaks : and a sacrifice of praise is made, no heifer slain nor hide burnt, but a spiritual soul presenting her proper offering. For such a sacrifice is more acceptable than any loving-kindness. When then you see a poor believer, think that you behold an altar: when you see such an one a beggar, not only insult him not, but even reverence him, and if you see another insulting him, prevent, repel it. For so shall you yourself be able both to have God propitious to you, and to obtain the promised good things, whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom and with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and forever, and world without end. Amen.