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Christian Devotedness by Anthony Norris Groves

APPENDIX (referred to in note 1)

It may be necessary to notice the only preceptive passage in the New Testament which apparently bears a different aspect. This we shall do for two reasons:

1st. -- to meet the readiness with which it is pleaded as a counterpoise to the otherwise clearly universal doctrine of the New Testament; and 2ndly -- , to prove that, far from its being in opposition to the principle for which we contend, it is another illustration of it. The text alluded to is contained in l Tim.5.8; where St. Paul is giving general directions relative to the provision to be made for widows, making a distinction at the same time between such as are to be relieved by the Church, and such as are to be relieved by their relatives. In reference to the latter he says, |He that provident not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [unbeliever]|; which Hammond thus paraphrases, |But if any man or woman do not maintain those that belong to them, especially those of their family (as their Parents clearly are, having a right to live in their house, and a propriety to be maintained by them (or that they take care and relieve them) supposing that they are able to it,) that man or woman doth quite contrary to the command of Christ, and indeed performs not that duty to Parents that even infidels think themselves obliged to do|. And in his note he adds, |To provide here does not signify laying up by way of careful, thoughtful providence beforehand, but only taking care of for the present, as we are able, relieving, maintaining, giving to them that want.| -- Whitby in his annotation on the same verse says, |Some here are guilty of a great mistake, scraping together great fortunes, and hoarding them up for their children, with a scandalous neglect of that charity to their Christian brethren which alone can sanctify those enjoyments to them, and enable them to lay up a good foundation against the time to come; pleading these words to excuse their sordid parsimony and want of charity; that 'he that provident not for his own household, hath denied the faiths and is worse than an infidel'; whereas these words plainly respect the provision which children should make for their parents, and not that which parents should make for their children.| See also Doddridge, Scott, and Pole's Synopsis, in loco. -- The meaning of the text then is simply this: -- he who ministers not to the necessities of his aged relatives, having the means so to do, is to be esteemed worse than an infidel; for even the heathen acknowledged this to be a duty. The precept, therefore, is to give and not to lay up, and consequently is in perfect accordance with the commando |Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.|

For the meaning of the passage -- |Provide things honest in the sight of all men| (Romans 12.17) (which some for want of more efficient support, are anxious to press into their service) see the above authorities; where it will be seen to have reference only to the beauty of character becoming and attractive in a Christian. See, as a Scripture comment, Phil.4.8.2; Ch.8 and 21. [There appears a mistake in the reference here.]

I shall now make a few remarks on the passage contained in II Cor.12.14, that I may bring under one point of view all the evidence the New Testament seems to me to afford, either in fact or by possible construction, against the view taken in this Essay. And this passage we more particularly notice, as it really appears to present some difficulty. |Behold,| says the Apostle, |the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burthensome to you; for the children ought not to lay up for the Parents, but the Parents for the children.| Now the difficulty alluded to consists in determining the meaning of the Apostle in this illustration. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, just before the dose of it, he gives the Corinthian Church a precept, similar to the one he had given all the other Churches he established; -- that they should lay by every Lord's Day, as God had prospered them, for the relief of the poor Saints. It appears, by the Apostle's remarks in the second Epistle to the same Church that there were some who desired to impute base motives to him as though he wished to share in this bounty. He accordingly evinces his disinterestedness, by declining all provision for himself. He tells them, however, that he did not decline receiving any thing from them because he loved them less than other Churches by whose liberality he had been once and again supplied, but that he might cut off occasion from those who desired occasion to malign his motives. And he once more excuses himself, in the next Chapter, from being a participator of the bounty which they had laid up, and to which he had encouraged them for the purpose of supplying the wants of the poor Saints in Judea; and he employs an illustration drawn from the common practice of mankind. |The Children,| says he, |ought not to lay up for the Parents, but the Parents for the Children.| And this illustration he employs as he does many others; just, for example, as he illustrates the Christian Race by circumstances and practices attendant on the Olympic games. It is essential to the illustration of this passage to consider that the whole argument of St. Paul does not refer to the providing against his future possible wants, with which alone this Essay has to do, but to the relief of his present actual necessities. It is evident indeed that the words cannot be taken strictly. The Apostle begins with asserting that Children ought not to lay up for their Parents, that is, ought not to provide for their present necessities; for, if this be not his meaning, the words have no reference to the question between the Apostle and the Corinthians, and therefore cease to be an illustration at all; since that question referred to present necessity on the one handy and to present supply on the other. His simple object appears to be to decline their bounty without giving pain; for it is clear from this very epistle that he was in the habit of receiving assistance from other Churches, of which he was as much the Spiritual Parent as of the Church of Corinth. The former he highly commends for the anxiety which they felt and the assistance which they afforded: from the latter he declines receiving any pecuniary aid, as if it were not incumbent on them to give, and would be improper for him to receive. He seems unwilling to recall to their minds the special reason of his refusing to accept of their bounty, and endeavours to find one in the general relation in which he stood to them, as their Spiritual Father. -- Let any one read from the eighth Chapter to the end of the Epistle, and he will be fully satisfied that the idea of laying up in store for future and possible wants never entered into the mind of the Apostle. Let him read especially that part of the eighth Chapter beginning with -- |For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,| -- and ending with -- |As it is written, He, that had gathered much, had nothing over; and he, that had gathered little, had no lack.|

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