2 Corinthians 9:13
Because of the proof this ministry provides, the saints will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the generosity of your contribution to them and to all the others.
Sermons
Unity in Nature and Grace; Manifold Results of Beneficence; ThanksgivingC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 9:10-15
Christ, God's Best Gift to ManE. Payson, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
God's Unspeakable GiftJ. Beaumont, M. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
God's Unspeakable GiftJ. Cawood, M. A.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
God's Unspeakable GiftT. Raffles, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
God's Unspeakable GiftW. L. Watkinson.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
Gratitude to God for the Mediation of ChristW. Auld.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
Praise for the Gift of GiftsC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
Professed Subjection unto the Gospel of ChristR. C. Dillon, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Christian's Surrender to ChristT. D. Witherspoon, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Gift of GiftsT. R. Stevenson.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Gift UnspeakableC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Pricelessness of ChristW. A. Gray.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Unspeakable GiftR. Watson.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Unspeakable GiftA. Fletcher, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The Unspeakable GiftJ. Freeman Clarke, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
Unspeakable Gifts of GodC. Vince.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
What is Essential to Church MembershipW. M. Taylor, D. D.2 Corinthians 9:13-14
The encouragement which the apostle here addresses to the Corinthian Christians, in order to stimulate their liberality, is appropriate to all professed followers of the Lord Jesus. Paul urges that the liberal helper of others is in every respect the wealthier and happier for his generosity. It is not the highest motive, but it is sound and powerful and effective.

I. THE HUMAN NEED OF SUCH ENRICHMENT. Impoverishment is the lot of multitudes; but whilst many are deeply sensible of their temporal needs, it is too often the case that, with regard to spiritual possessions, they boast that they are rich and increased with goods, and know not that they are poor. In fact, we have nothing which we have not received from the free bounty of him who is the Giver of all.

II. THE DIVINE AUTHOR OF SUCH ENRICHMENT. The God of nature supplies the need and relieves the poverty distinctive of our bodily and physical state. The God of grace provides liberally for the wants of the soul, saying to his child, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." "In everything," says

III. THE VARIETY AND PLENTITUDE OF THIS ENRICHMENT. "In everything," says the apostle. He appears to teach that, as a general rule, it is the ordinance of Providence that the way of liberality should be the way of prosperity. All have known fortunate and wealthy misers; and all have known generous men who have come to poverty; but such cases are the exception. And if generosity is the way to temporal abundance, a liberal spirit is sure to acquire virtues and excellences. Faith, hope, and love, - all are cultivated in the exercise of liberality; progressive enrichment is the recompense of a large heart and open hands.

IV. THE HUMAN AND EARTHLY RESULT OF THIS ENRICHMENT. This is increase of liberality; the more the generous man receives from God, the more he helps his fellow men.

V. THE ULTIMATE RESULT OF THIS ENRICHMENT. Thanksgiving will be rendered to God, both by the liberal who are enriched, by the grateful recipients of their abundant bounty, and by all who witness the fruit of the Spirit and the evidences of the power of the Saviour's love. - T.







By the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ.
We have here —

I. A SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES — "The gospel of Christ." And what is the gospel? It is, in short, a proclamation.

1. A full salvation.

2. A finished salvation.

3. A free salvation.

4. An infallible and eternal salvation.

II. AN EPITOME OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE. "Your subjection."

1. This carries with it a supposition that man likes not the gospel of Christ naturally. And never will depravity give way until it is brought into subjection to the gospel of Christ.

2. The proof of this subjection is the being made willing to submit to the humiliating plan of salvation, and this is illustrated in the case of St. Paul.

III. AN EXHIBITION OF CHRISTIAN PRACTICE — "your professed subjection." There is then to be a profession of religion. If retirement, if solitary communion with God had been all that was necessary, He would have appointed us to live in solitude rather than in communities.

(R. C. Dillon, D. D.)

? — I wish to direct attention to the declaration of those who profess obedience to Christ by joining the Church. Such a one professes to have —

I. A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. One cannot make a profession truly unless he makes it intelligently. There is a difference between knowledge and faith, yet when there is faith there must be some knowledge. Ignorance marks credulity, but not faith. True, there is a difference between apprehension and comprehension. We often apprehend what we cannot explain. To be a Christian it is not necessary to be a theologian; yet there must be a clear conception that Jesus Christ is the Lord, that He has suffered and died to make salvation possible. In the present reaction against creeds we must see that we do not let go our hold on the essential truths.

II. A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE GOSPEL'S POWER. Men should first come to Christ, then into the Church. I do not claim that the Church member should be able to tell the moment when he was born into the kingdom of the Saviour, or the details of his conversion. The watchman may not be able to tell when the first faint gleam of the day was on the eastern sky, etc. What I ought to know is that the day has dawned in my heart. It is not claimed that the Christian is to be perfect. The little one in the primer class is just as much a student as the youth with his calculus. So no one is to be excluded from Christ's school because he is but learning the alphabet of His doctrine.

III. A WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH A CHRISTIAN LIFE. The Christian has one Lord, Christ Jesus. If he enters where there is another ruler, call it pride, fashion, or what you will, he becomes a traitor to his Lord. Remember, the Christian can have but one king. And think of Paul's warning, that he that doubteth is condemned already.

IV. A WILLINGNESS TO WORK WITH THE CHURCH IN BEHALF OF CHRISTIANITY. The Church has a work to do in the world.

1. To those who have professed this subjection, Have you kept this profession?

2. To those who have not made profession, Why have you not professed Christ?

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The apostle expresses his thought in military language. He speaks of the confession of Christ which the Corinthian Christians had made as a surrender, in which they grounded the arms of their opposition and enlisted under His banner. He speaks of their subjection as a subordination to military authority. This is Paul's idea of Church membership.

I. THE GOSPEL IS A GREAT BODY OF TRUTH RECEIVED FROM HEAVEN BY IMMEDIATE REVELATION, AND FOR THIS REASON OF A HIGHER ORDER AND MORE BINDING AUTHORITY THAN ANY TRUTH WHICH COMES TO US IN A NATURAL WAY. To this system of revealed truth we are to subject our understandings. We are to receive it as the Word of God.

II. THE GOSPEL IS THE REVELATION OF A METHOD OF SALVATION — A NEW METHOD, one of which man never could have conceived — an exclusive method, so that a man must discard all others if he accepts this. Church membership implies, in this second sense, subjection of the heart to the method of redemption revealed in the gospel — the renunciation of all self-righteousness.

III. THE GOSPEL PRESCRIBES A RULE OF PRACTICAL LIVING. So, then, he is to subject his life to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit.

IV. THE GOSPEL IS GOD'S GREAT AGENCY FOR THE REGENERATION, THE PURIFICATION, THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE WORLD. Church membership involves the subjection of one's resources to the service of Christ. A man's time, his influence, his money, all are to be laid upon the altar to be used as the Lord has need. This is the kind of Church membership we need to-day.

(T. D. Witherspoon, D. D.)

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift
Consider Christ as —

I. THE GIFT OF GOD.

1. What is not implied —(1) That there is any posteriority on the part of the Son to the Father. The Son's goings forth are "from of old — even from everlasting." "Before Abraham was, I am."(2) That there is any inferiority in nature, perfections, or blessedness on the part of the Son; for what the Father is that the Son is.(3) Still less that there was any involuntariness on the part of the Son to come to us. The Son was as willing to be given as the Father was to give Him.

2. What is implied —(1) The Saviour's appointment by the Father to the work of substitution for sinners.(2) The Saviour's subjection, as the sinner's Substitute, to all the consequences which His situation entailed, having undertaken to make satisfaction for us.(3) The application of the Son to the sinner's soul as his portion, with all the blessings that are consequent upon His mission.

II. THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT OF GOD. Now this word "unspeakable" occurs only twice elsewhere (2 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Peter 1:8).

1. It is unspeakably great. Its greatness surpasses all human expression, it is a Divine gift. Divinity is the sun that lightens and gilds every passage of inspiration.

2. It is unspeakably free. And, after all, it is the freeness of this gift that makes it so worthy of God to bestow, and so fit for us to accept.

3. It is unspeakably necessary. We were lost, and none but Christ could find us; dead, and none but Christ could raise us; sunk, and none but Christ could recover us; afar off, and none but Christ could bring us in; guilty, and none but Christ could procure for us a pardon.

4. It is unspeakably efficacious. A gift may be exceedingly valuable in itself — it may have been bestowed by great kindness, but, somehow or other, it may fail of answering the end intended. But here is a gift that is efficacious.

III. A GIFT FOR WHICH THANKS ARE TO RE RETURNED TO GOD. These thanks must be —

1. Personal.

2. Fervent and lively.

3. Practical.As Philip Henry says, "thanksgiving is good, but thanks-living is better."

(J. Beaumont, M. D.)

I. THE GIFT OF GOD.

1. Its nature. It is the gift of His beloved Son. The prophets foretold Him as the gift of God — "Unto us a Son is given." Jesus describes Himself as the gift of God — "God so loved the world that He gave," etc. The apostles announce Jesus as the gift of God (1 Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:2.)

2. Its excellence. It is unspeakable in —(1) Its source. The love of God. Who can tell why God hath loved us? who can calculate how God hath loved us? or who can comprehend the beginning or the end of the love of God in Christ Jesus? Who can tell its duration or its perfections, its tenderness, or its strength? Angels stoop from their throne in glory to contemplate and to adore the manifestation of redeeming love in Christ.(2) Its value. To form some faint idea of the value of this gift, consider —

(a)the divinity of the Redeemer's person.

(b)The depth of the Redeemer's sufferings.(3) Its character. All wisdom, mysteries, and blessings unite in Christ crucified.(4) Its application is —

(a)Free. Jesus invites all, and casts out none.

(b)Spiritual. Though offered to all freely, the Holy Spirit alone can effectually apply it.(5) Its effects. Pardon, peace, holiness, heaven.

II. THE DUTY OF MAN. To thank God for the gift of His Son.

1. With the gratitude of our hearts.

2. With the praises of our lips.

3. By the obedience of our lives.

(J. Cawood, M. A.)

All the gifts of God are good; but there is one which, in its intrinsic value and the importance of its blessings, infinitely transcends them all, so that, without exaggeration, it is "unspeakable." That gift is Jesus Christ. It is unspeakable —

I. IN THE FREENESS OF ITS BESTOWMENT.

1. It was unmerited; it was a gift to those who never had the shadow of a claim. It was a gift to man, not in a state of allegiance and innocence, but of rebellion and apostasy.

2. Never was gift so entirely unsolicited. The grace which was given us in Christ Jesus God gave us before the world began.

II. IN ITS VALUE.

1. In itself it is unspeakable. The wondrous union of the Divine with the human nature in the person of Immanuel is infinitely more than our feeble powers can comprehend. Yet it is a truth most clearly revealed. From this union arises His ability to save; hence the incalculable value of His sacrifice. On the one hand, being human, He can obey and suffer; on the other hand, being Divine, there is an infinite merit impressed upon His obedience and sufferings.

2. Its relative value. Think of the relation in which the Redeemer stood —(1) To the Father. Think of the glory which He had with Him before the world was.(2) To the universe, as the Creator, the Proprietor, and the Sovereign Lord.

III. IN THE RESULTS OF ITS BESTOWMENT.

1. The salvation of men. This was the great object of the Redeemer's mission. It is a salvation from —(1) The pollution of sin. Purity is an essential part of it.(2) The power of sin. Sin shall not have dominion over them who, being justified by faith, are no longer under the law, but under grace.(3) The wrath of God. God is angry with the wicked every day.(4) The sting of death.(5) The resurrection of damnation, the terrors of judgment, and the pains of hell.

2. The honour of God.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

Let me —

I. ILLUSTRATE THIS INTERESTING DOCTRINE. By the gift of Christ we receive —

1. The gift of religious truth.

2. The gift of conscience. Where there is no truth there is no conscience; men seem asleep; in their trespasses and sins they are dead. Such was the state of the pagan world.

3. The gift of righteousness by faith. It is only by Christ that we come to know the fact that the God whom we have offended is placable, and that it is in His gracious purpose to forgive.

4. A new order of affections.

5. The privilege of public worship.

II. IMPROVE IT.

1. This unspeakable gift, with all its resulting blessings, may have been offered to us in vain.

2. In it see the love of God; His readiness to save.

3. If the gift be unspeakable, from the very fulness and variety of its blessings, then have we presented to us the noblest view of the true life of a Christian. In every other form of religion, or in those framed out of a corrupted form of the true religion, we soon see all that they can give; the spring is soon dry, or, rather, it never flows but in the imagination of the deluded votary. But here the fulness is inexhaustible, and spreads innumerable blessings before us in time and eternity.

(R. Watson.)

It is unspeakable because —

I. IT IS MOST PRECIOUS (1 Peter 2:7). Suppose I put into your hand a large jewel worth ten thousand pounds; then I show you another, and say there are only four to be seen on the face of the earth. The one is costly, the other rare, and both are precious. Christ is precious because —

1. He is most valuable. His humanity is adorned with every grace; His Divinity is enriched with every perfection.

2. He is most rare. There is only one Bible, and that is enough. We have only one sun. So we have only one Saviour, and we need no other.

II. IT IS MOST COMPREHENSIVE (Romans 8:32). It comprehends all we need for time and for eternity. They who receive this gift receive —

1. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost.

2. All spiritual privileges.

3. Heaven (John 14:1).

III. IT IS MOST SUITABLE. They who receive this Gift receive raiment for their naked souls (Revelation 7:13). Those who are spiritually hungry receive "the Bread of Life" (John 6:48). Water is to satisfy the thirsty; they who receive this Gift receive the "water of life" (John 4). They who receive this Gift receive freedom from the captivity of Satan and of the world (Isaiah 61:1).

IV. IT IS MOST SATISFYING. The world never satisfies. That large bag of gold contains twenty thousand sovereigns. What is that written on the outside? "Satisfieth not." But what is Christ? A Gift so precious that they who receive it are satisfied for ever.

V. IT IS ETERNAL (Romans 6:20). You see inscribed upon all earthly things the words, "Only for a time."

(A. Fletcher, D. D.)

I. BEFORE WE CONSIDER WHAT THIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT IS, LET US CONSIDER THOSE WHICH CAN BE EASILY SPOKEN OF.

1. What a wonderful world is this! What beauty, variety, majestic presence of law, vast order, infinite adaptations to the purposes of life! Go out on a summer morning. Man goes forth to his work and his labour, creating another world of art and use, a microcosm in the macrocosm. He also is allowed to be a creator in his little sphere.

2. Life is a little day, but how it is filled with opportunity for knowledge, for work, for love!

3. And what a wonderful gift is the human soul! What mysterious powers are hidden therein, slowly evolved into grand activities! For all this we may well thank God every day and every hour. But why? He does not need words of praise. He cannot love praise as men desire it. To this many would answer, "He wishes our praise, not for His own sake, but only for ours. It does us good to be grateful." This is true as far as it goes, but only half the truth. There is a sense in which God may enjoy the thanks of His creatures. If those thanksgivings of ours come from love, then even the Infinite Majesty of Heaven may find joy in the grateful heart of creation, for love unites the high and the low. Who can ever despise or be indifferent to sincere love?

II. LOVE, THEN, IS "THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT."

1. The gift which makes the value of all other gifts. We do not value a gift from man unless we see in it some love. Ingratitude is inability or unwillingness to recognise love in a giver.

2. Love is "unspeakable," for who can describe even human love, much less infinite love? But what we cannot describe we can see and know. Who can describe the perfume of a violet? Yet we know it. Who can describe the melody in the song of a nightingale or the music of a gentle voice? But we know these, and can recall them after long years. So we may know, though we cannot describe, this unspeakable gift of Divine love. Men may receive all God's other gifts, and if no love is seen in them they will awaken no gratitude. A man of taste may be gratified, but hardly grateful, in the sight of outward beauty. The sight of vast laws may gratify our desire for knowledge; a man may do right simply because it is right, and will find satisfaction in so doing. But the "unspeakable gift" may not be in any of these blessings. It is not till we see love in God's gifts that we are grateful; and when we see love we cannot help being grateful.

3. But is not this the wonder of wonders, that the Infinite Being should not be above the reach of love? We see power, wisdom, benevolent adaptations everywhere; but before the personal being, the great heart of the universe, there hangs an impenetrable veil. To the intellect this mystery is unfathomable. But one has drawn aside that veil — one who from the first spoke of God as Father. We can come to the Infinite Being by the broad highway of reason. But who except Jesus has revealed the deeper mystery of Divine love? There have, indeed, been mystics in all religions who have sought by ascetic practices to purify themselves so as to meet God in their souls. But Jesus brings God's love to all, not to the thinker or the monk, but to the humblest child of the Infinite Friend. The sailor on the high and giddy mast can feel beneath him the everlasting arms. The young soldier, dying in pain on the battle-field, can say, "My Father!" and be at peace. The sinner in the midst of temptation can utter in his heart a cry for help, and be pardoned and saved. The little child can talk with this dear Father, and its childish prattle will reach the Infinite ear.

4. And this unspeakable gift is given to you and to me. To us the word of this salvation is sent. Salvation! for what can be more safe than to feel ourselves in the embrace of an infinite love? Sacrifice and offering He does not require. He says only this, "My son, give Me thine heart." And to enable us to do this He shows how He so loved the world as to give His only Son to bring the same sense of a Father's love to the rest of His children.

(J. Freeman Clarke, D. D.)

Nothing can so excite God's people to give to Him as the remembrance of what God has given to them. "Freely ye have received, freely give." Gospel graces are best stimulated by gospel motives. The gospel is founded upon giving, and its spirit is giving. God gives us Jesus — everything in fact; and then, moved by love to Him, we give ourselves back to Him and to His people.

I. CHRIST IS THE GIFT UNSPEAKABLE.

1. No man can doctrinally lay down the whole meaning of the gift of Christ to men. The devout and studious have themselves cried out, "Oh, the depths," but they have not pretended to fathom this abyss of mystery. It is idle to attempt a definition of infinity. Theology can speak on many themes, and she hath much to say on this, but her voice fails to speak the whole.

2. No man can ever set forth the manner of this gift.(1) The manner of the Father's giving the Only-Begotten to us. We swim in mysteries when we speak of the Father and the Son. How, then, shall any explain how God could give the Son to die, He being one with Himself? Or, if he could explain, can he tell us what it cost?(2) Our Lord's sufferings when He was made sin for us. None can declare the greatness of His sufferings. Incarnation is but the first step, but of that first descent of love who shall declare the mystery? "Thine unknown sufferings," says the Greek Liturgy, and unknown they must for ever be.

3. None can describe the boons which have come to us through the gift of Christ. There is, first of all, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. Then comes adoption, and all that that means. "All things are yours," etc. Other gifts may amaze us, but this overwhelms us. If the stream be fathomless who shall find a plummet wherewith to measure the fountain?

4. When it is best realised speech about it fails. Utterance belongs not to the deepest emotion. Some feelings are too big for expression. A dear lover of Christ wished to join a certain church, but her testimony was too little to satisfy the brethren, and they told her so; when, bursting through all bonds, she cried out, "I cannot speak for Him, but I could die for Him."

5. Even when the Spirit of God helps men to speak upon it, they yet feel it to be unspeakable. You shall not be able to soar amongst the mysteries and then come back and say, "I can declare it all to you." No, Paul "heard things which it were not lawful for a man to utter."

II. CHRIST IS A GIFT TO BE VERY MUCH SPOKEN OF.

1. By thanks to God.

2. By deeds of praise. If our words have failed let us try actions, which speak more loudly than words.(1) Give yourself away to your Lord. If God has given you Christ, give Him yourself. Ye are not your own.(2) Then, having given yourself, give of your substance to God, and give freely. Nothing can be too good or great for Him.(3) Deeds of patience are among the thanks which best speak out our gratitude to God. If you have lost everything but Christ, yet if you have Christ left you what have you lost? Why fret for pins when God gives pearls?

3. By always holding a thankful creed. Believe nothing which would rob God of thanks or Christ of glory. Hold a theology which magnifies Christ, which teaches that Christ is God's unspeakable gift.

4. By bringing others to accept God's unspeakable gift. Seek out those who do not know Christ, and tell them "the old, old story of Jesus and His love."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is unutterably precious because —

I. OF THE GIVER.

II. IT INCLUDES OTHER GIFTS.

III. IT IMPROVES OTHER GIFTS. Through it man values —

1. Nature.

2. Human nature.

3. The Bible more.

IV. IT MAKES US GIVERS.

V. IT IS A GIFT TO ALL.

1. Not a loan.

2. Not a purchase.

3. A gift, and a gift to all.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

I. SALVATION IS ALTOGETHER THE GIFT OF GOD.

1. It comes to us by Jesus, and what else could Jesus be?

2. Over and over again we are told that salvation is not of works, and these are themselves a gift, the work of the grace of God.

3. If salvation were not a free gift how else could a sinner get it? I know that there would have been no hope of heaven for me if salvation had not been the free gift of God to those who deserved it not.

4. Look at the privileges which come to us through salvation! They are so many and so glorious as to be altogether beyond the limit of our furthest search and the height of our utmost reach.

(1)Pardon.

(2)Sonship.

(3)Heirship.

(4)Oneness with Christ.

(5)The Divine indwelling.

(6)Peace which passeth understanding.

(7)Victory over death.

(8)Heaven.

II. THIS GIFT IS UNSPEAKABLE. Not that we cannot speak about it. How many times have I, for one, spoken upon it. It is like an artesian well that springeth up for ever and ever. We can speak about it, yet it is unspeakable. Christ is unspeakable —

1. In His person. He is perfect man and glorious God.

2. In His condescension. Can any one measure or describe how far Christ stooped?

3. In His death.

4. In His glory. When we think of His resurrection, of His ascending to the right hand of God, words languish on our lips.

5. In His chosen. All the Father gave Him, all for whom He died, He will glorify with Himself, and they shall be with Him where He is.

6. In the heart here. Throughout a long life and even in heaven Christ will be a gift unspeakable. "Eternity's too short to utter half Thy praise."

III. FOR THIS GIFT THANKS SHOULD BE RENDERED.

1. Some cannot say " Thanks be to God," etc., because —

(1)They never think of it. There must be "think" at the bottom of "thank."

(2)Some are always delaying.

(3)Some do not know whether they have it or not.

2. Join me in this exercise.(1) Thank God for this gift. Put out of your mind the idea that you ought to thank Christ, but not the Father. It was the Father that gave Christ. He gave His Son because He already loved us.(2) Thank God only. Do not be thinking by whose means you were converted.(3) Thank God spontaneously. Imitate Paul. When he sounded this peal of praise his mind was occupied about the collection, but, collection or no collection, he will thank God for His unspeakable gift.(4) Thank God practically. Do something to prove your thanks.

(a)Look for His lost children.

(b)Succour His poor saints.

(c)Bear with the evil ones.

(d)Watch for His Son from heaven.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. We are, then, TO SHOW THAT GOD IS ENTITLED TO THE GREATEST GRATITUDE BECAUSE OF THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT OF HIS SON CHRIST JESUS. Gratitude is that affection of the soul which is excited by acts of kindness done to us. It should always bear proportion to the kindness shown. But how can we estimate the degrees of kindness? In the case of a gift we may do this in the following manner: In proportion as that which is given is valued by the person who gives, in proportion as it is of advantage to the persons to whom it is given, and in proportion to its being undeserved or more or less strictly gratuitous, in the same proportion is the degree of kindness shown, and in the same proportion, consequently, is the degree of gratitude due.

1. Let us first consider the great value which God must have set on the gift. It was not one of the most exalted of our own order whom God gave to men as their Saviour, neither was it one of the angelic spirits who are far more exalted beings than the most exalted of the children of men. Now, if God has such a love to good and holy men as He is represented in Scripture to have, His love to so glorious a person as Christ above must be unspeakably greater. But this is not all. The particular name by which this glorious person is distinguished in Scripture plainly intimates the nature and strength of that love which the God of love must ever feel towards Him. He is called His Son, His own Son, His only begotten and well-beloved Son. If God has such an extraordinary love to those who are His adopted sons, as we find in Scripture He has, how inconceivably greater love must He always bear to the Son of His nature, who was ever with Him, and ever did the things which pleased Him! What unspeakable kindness towards men, then, did God discover in giving His own Son, a person of such worth, and so dear to Himself, to be their Saviour! How grateful a sense of His kindness ought such a gift to produce in us!

2. Let us, in the next place, consider the vast value of this gift to men. Many and valuable are the gifts which we have received from God, but of them all there is none so valuable as the gift of His Son, and of eternal life through Him. Its great superiority appears in this circumstance, that the bestowal of it was necessary in order to convert all other gifts into blessings. For what would the gift of life in this world, with all prosperity, have proved if the Son of God had not also been given that He might become the author of eternal salvation to as many as obeyed Him?

3. But let us, in the last place, on this part of the subject, consider our entire want of claim on God for this gift.

II. TO INQUIRE WHAT SOME OF THE CAUSES ARE OF THAT BASE INGRATITUDE WITH WHICH THE GREAT BODY OF THE HEARERS OF THE GOSPEL ARE CHARGEABLE, NOTWITHSTANDING THIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT.

1. The first cause of this base ingratitude which we shall mention is ignorance of the nature and excellence of the gift. Knowledge is the light of the soul, and by it are the various powers and faculties of the mind directed in their operation. It is the perception of what is grand that excites our admiration; it is the perception of loveliness that excites our esteem; and it is the perception or knowledge of kindness shown to ourselves that excites our gratitude, Where there is no such perception or knowledge of kindness there can be no gratitude. Whether you neglect the Bible, or contemn and deny it, in order, as you may think, to show your superior wisdom and understanding, your ignorance of the nature and excellence of the gift of God made known to you in it must be highly criminal, and consequently the ingratitude which flows from your ignorance cannot be excused.

2. The next cause of this base ingratitude which we shall mention is error, or such opinions respecting this gift as derogate from its greatness and excellence. The gift is depreciated by making Christ a mere man, which lessen also the value of it to men by denying that they are so miserable as the Scriptures represent them to be, and which depreciate it further by magnifying the merit of human conduct, as if it deserved much favour.

3. Another great cause of ingratitude is insensibility of heart. This is the principal cause. It is the parent of the indolence and inattention which produce ignorance of Divine things in general, and of this gift in particular. It is also a prime reason of that perversion of understanding which embraces error for truth.

4. The only other cause of this ingratitude which we shall mention is pride. Pride, being a high sense of our own worth, is most unfriendly to the exercise of gratitude, because it always disposes us to look upon ourselves as entitled to those favours which we receive.We come now to conclude the subject with a few reflections on what has been said.

1. In the first place, then, from this subject we may learn that God is entitled to our warmest gratitude for such an unspeakable gift as the gift of His only begotten and well-beloved Son.

2. In the next place, from this subject we must be convinced of the propriety of the feeling and language of Paul, and of those who, like him, are ready to say, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!"

3. In the last place, from this subject we are led to contemplate the baseness and depravity of our nature.

(W. Auld.)

I. CHRIST IS THE GIFT OF GOD TO MEN. He fulfils all the conditions of a gift.

1. He is something valuable.

2. He is offered to us freely; for God was under no kind of obligation to make us such an offer.

3. He is offered to persons who have no claim to such a favour. We cannot claim the offer of Christ as a recompense for injuries received from God, for He has never injured us; nor can we claim it in return for services performed, or favours bestowed, for we have never done anything for God.

4. Nor does God offer His Son with the expectation of receiving anything in return, for we and all that we possess are already His.

5. Nor does God offer us His Son with any intention of resuming the gift; for the gifts of God are without repentance.

II. THIS GIFT MAY BE JUSTLY STYLED UNSPEAKABLE. Observe —

1. That the love which led God to bestow such a gift upon us, must have been unspeakably great. Though Christ spoke as never man spake, yet even He could not describe it except by its effects. "God," says He, "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," etc., thus intimating that His love could not be described, and leaving us to judge of its greatness by its effects. And, judging by this rule, how great must His love have been.

2. Christ's worth and excellence are unspeakably great. He is the pearl of great price. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and grace; His riches are unsearchable. In Him dwells all fulness, even all the fulness of the Godhead. In giving us Christ, therefore, God has given us Himself and all He has; and hence those who receive this gift are said to be filled with the fulness of God.

3. Unspeakable as is the intrinsic value of Christ, He is, if possible, still more unspeakably valuable to us. The value of a gift depends much on circumstances. Money may be a valuable present to any one; but to a man on the point of being dragged to prison for debt it is much more so. Medicine or food may be valuable in itself, but when given to a man ready to perish, its value is very greatly increased. So Christ is unspeakably precious in Himself. But how unspeakably more valuable is such a gift to us, who were on the point of perishing for ever.

III. THIS IS A GIFT FOR WHICH WE OUGHT TO THANK GOD WITH THE MOST LIVELY GRATITUDE. Is it necessary to prove this? Is it not evident from the preceding consideration?

(E. Payson, D. D.)

It may surprise some that concerning this passage there has been considerable difference of opinion among expositors. The point in dispute is this, to what particular gift of God did the apostle refer? Most readers instantly conclude that Christ is the gift. To what other gift of God can you give this title "unspeakable." I refer to this reasoning only to remind you how fallacious it is. It has its roots not in an exaggerated idea of the greatness of the gift of Christ, for that is impossible, but it has its roots in unworthy notions of God's other bounties. We should not say it must be the gift of Christ, because it is called unspeakable, for that is assuming God's other gifts are such as our finite minds can clearly comprehend. It is true that Christ is an unspeakable gift of God. In the gift of Christ God's love did transcend all His other manifestations; but it is also true that before Christ came from the heart of God to seek and to save the lost, gifts had been lavished upon the children of men of which we would have said their greatness surpasses our description. If we take the bounties of God and set them before our minds, and try to realise what we should feel, and what our earthly life would have been if those bounties had been denied, instead of saying one of His gifts is unspeakable, we should be more likely to say they are all unspeakable. Now look at some common bounties, as we call them; common, not because we can do without them, but because in the fulness of the Divine love they come constantly and they come to nearly all. In the beginning darkness was upon the earth. God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." That command is still heard, and by Divine power every night is turned to day. Can you gaze upon the glories of each new returning morning without feeling that this one gift of light repeated every twenty-four hours through the untold ages is an unspeakable gift? Sometimes you meet a man blind from his birth; you see him groping his way in the midst of the thousand fair things whose varied beauties are a perfect blank to him. When you put that man's darkness by the side of your light, when you put that man's poverty by the side of your wealth, do you not feel that you can with the utmost reason exclaim, "Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift." Sometimes you see a poor stricken sufferer who has borne the burden of pain and weakness well nigh through his life. When you think of his pain and feebleness, and of your own soundness and bodily health, vigour, and animal spirits, would it be exaggeration if you exclaimed, "Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift"? Sometimes you meet a poor creature to whom the light of reason is denied, human as to his bodily form, but wanting in the mind, which is man's crown of glory. He has no reason whatever to control his instincts and to subdue the strong passions of his body. He cannot look through nature up to nature's God. When you look at him, what name do you give to your own faculties? There is but one name for your faculties; they are an "unspeakable gift." Those who know me best will least need to be told that it is not mine to induce you to think less of Christ, the gift of gifts. Not less of Christ, but more of God's other benefits. Now it is more than time to seek an answer to this question. Seeing that there are so many unspeakable gifts, and the apostle refers to only one, to which did he refer? Many able expositors contend that the gift the apostle refers to was the generous, liberal disposition of the Corinthian Christians to the poor saints at Jerusalem. "God has given to you, Corinthians, the heart to feel for others, He has given to you the readiness to help others. God be thanked for this unspeakable gift." Then comes the question: Was the apostle thinking of this when he exclaimed, "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift." Those to whom I have referred believe that in effect the apostle said, "You, Corinthians, have never seen the poor suffering people at Jerusalem, but your hearts have bled with pity for them, and your hands have been held out bountifully. Your bountifulness makes many people believe in the gospel with greater faith and love." I am afraid that such an exposition of the passage is what some selfish people have never dreamt of. They have looked at the words, and they have thought the apostle is speaking of some rich treasure which God has put into the hands of the people for their own use and enjoyment. It never occurred to them that he might mean something which God put into the hearts of the Corinthians to make them think and. care for others, to make them deny themselves for the sake of others. A quick, sympathetic nature is an unspeakable gift; they make no effort at all to get that gift. But a great many people seem as if they do wish they could be delivered from the burden of all troublesome thought and affection towards others. If they could be their own creators, they would give themselves thoughts of tenderness towards themselves, and hearts of granite towards other people. He who wrote these words about this gift himself had it in rich abundance. At first he had a proud heart, a cruel nature, and the grace of Christ came and changed that nature, and made him responsive to the touch of everybody's trouble. Yes, we must look at this gift not only in relation to this life, but in relation to the life which is to come. Those to whom God gives a gracious heart like His own, He does not intend to leave them for ever in this world of blended light and darkness, sorrow and joy. He intends very soon to take them where all is peace, and all is perfection, and all is blessedness. I have already given you two classes of exposition of this passage. Suffer me now to say a word about a third. The late Dean Alford took this text for a Whit Sunday sermon, and he said, "I hesitate not to say at once that the unspeakable gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit." He contended that the blessing of Pentecost — the gift of the Holy Spirit — was the one even toward which all the other events of Revelation contributed. "The other gifts," he said, "are means to an end, the indwelling of the Spirit in me is the end itself." Was not Christ exalted that the Spirit might be given to men? No one will question that the gift of the Spirit is an "unspeakable gift." This world, with all its light and comforts, we owe to the gift of the Spirit. If the unspeakable gift of the Spirit had not been given to Moses, David, Isaiah, and all the inspired writers, they would never have given us a book which above all others is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Not only was the Spirit needed for those who wrote; it is needed also for those who read. We know that he "that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved," but how do we lack the patience, perseverance, and power necessary to continue to the end. But when the human knowledge and energy fails, the Divine force may secure the victory, and bring the man off more than conqueror. I daresay some of you, while I have been talking, have been like the dove out on the wild waste of waters, you are glad to get back with a weary wing to the old familiar ark, and you say, "After all you have said, it was Christ the apostle meant." Be it so, you cannot go wrong in saying that that gift is unspeakable — unspeakable in the love it reveals unspeakable in the glorious issue it will ultimately have. Does some one say that I have touched upon so many unspeakable gifts that I have left him in confusion and perplexity? I am glad if it is so. I wanted to make you feel that God's gifts are not one, nor two, nor three gifts only; they are not like two or three pyramids rising out on a flat and dreary desert plain. The region of God's bounty is a mountainous region. "Peak after peak, alps upon alps arise." The higher we climb the broader the vision becomes.. There is one higher than the rest, and I see a cross on its summit. To that summit we should look most frequently. It is there we are nearest to God; it is there we grow most into His likeness; it is there we drink most into His Spirit; it is there where sinful men get their guilt cancelled, and receive their passport to a crown and kingdom of glory that fadeth not away. Thanks be to God for every unspeakable gift.

(C. Vince.)

It is a peculiarity of St. Paul that the less reminds him of the greater. The most ordinary of facts suggest to him the sublimest of truths. The apostle is here enforcing the duty of liberality by a variety of arguments which reach their climax in the text. This gift of God is unspeakable because —

I. IT POSSESSES UNSPEAKABLE WORTH.

1. Christ is the embodiment of a perfect humanity, and is precious as perfect purity must be amidst pollution, as perfect obedience must be amidst rebellion, as perfect love must be where each man seeks his own.

2. He is God manifest in the flesh. The hands that men touched fashioned the worlds. The eyes they looked into were those from which there is nothing hid. The voice they listened to commanded the hosts of heaven, and called the dead from their graves. Not till our arithmetic can reckon the wealth of omnipotence can we estimate the preciousness of Christ. He is unspeakably precious as the Picture and Transcript of God.

II. IT PROVIDES FOR UNSPEAKABLE NEEDS.

1. Unspeakable guilt. When the soul sees how in Christ God can be just and the Justifier of the unjust, then it echoes the words, "Unto them that believe He is precious. Thanks be unto God," etc.

2. Unspeakable weakness. And he who accepts it discovers that while the chains of justice fall off from his limbs, a new tide of vigour flows all through his being. That is a treasure indeed which contains both the key that unlocks the prison doors and the medicine that restores the released man's health, sending him forth on existence not only free but whole.

3. Unspeakable loneliness. Man is without friendship, or at least such a friendship as he really needs. Circumstances happen when man, however plentiful or loving his friends may be, must feel alone. There are the isolations of individual perplexity, sin, sorrow, and death. Give me the presence of One who is wise enough to say, "This is the way, walk ye in it," in my hours of doubt — gracious enough to say, "I have seen thy ways and will heal thee," in my hours of remorse — loving enough to say, "Cast thy burden upon Me," in my hours of trial — near enough and strong enough to say, "When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee," at the time when my feet feel the chill waters of death. Give me the presence of a Comforter like this; then will the heart be satisfied. This need is supplied by God's unspeakable gift.

III. IT CONVEYS UNSPEAKABLE BLESSINGS. Large as the wants are, the provisions are larger; great as man's poverty is, greater still is God's grace. It is one thing to take a vessel and to fill it; it is another to place it in a boundless sea, where it may ever float, and ever be brimming.

1. God not only gives pardon for guilt. Not as the offence is, so is the free gift; but where sin hath abounded, there grace hath abounded much more; and they whom God pardons He raises to infinite dignity. What other king ever translated rebels from the prison-house straight to the palace, and gave them a share in the children's heritage?

2. God not only discloses for weakness a sufficiency of strength; in Christ there is the pledge of unspeakable victory. It were much to stand in the evil day; but those who have Christ shall be more than conquerors.

3. God not only proffers companionship for loneliness, but affords unspeakable sympathy. In Christ there is a fellow-feeling so wide that it sweeps the range of every emotion, and so true and so delicate that it can touch the tenderest and not jar.

IV. IT IS THE EVIDENCE AND EMBODIMENT OF UNSPEAKABLE LOVE. Here we reach the spring and the origin of all.

(W. A. Gray.)

1. Christ brought us truth on the highest questions of all, and taught us that truth most fully. We prize, and justly prize, the great masters who gave us the knowledge of nature — Copernicus, Galileo, Newton; Darwin; but more momentous still are the instructions of Moses, Isaiah, and the great moral masters of the ages. Here Christ is supreme. He vindicated and disclosed the spiritual world and the spirituality of man with surpassing authority and power. He made it impossible henceforth that the race should lose itself in materialism and sensuality. In Christ we have in its fulness the precious doctrine of grace, forgiveness, peace.

2. Christ brought righteousness. He secured to us the power of purity. He inspires the strength by which the highest goodness is attainable.

3. Christ brought us hope. He came into the world in an age of weariness and despair, and He made everything to live by putting into the heart of the race a sure and splendid hope. The advent of Jesus mightily enriched the race in incorruptible treasure — in knowledge, kindness, purity, and hope. How much it enriched us none may tell. The gift is "unspeakable." Have we received the unspeakable gift? Men do not readily believe in and accept the highest gifts. They are often strangely blind. Did they welcome Gutenberg? Did they strew flowers for Columbus? The world did not believe in these great donors; the gifts they brought were too grand. So, when the "unspeakable gift" was given, men stood aloof in insensibility or scorn. Christ came to His own, but they received Him not. The message of God's redeeming mercy is disregarded by multitudes of nominal Christians. Every now and then we hear of a superb masterpiece being discovered in a house where for years it has been neglected and unknown. The picture has been the butt of wit, it has had penknives through it, it has been relegated to the attic. But in how many houses is the gospel, the masterpiece of God, ignored and despised! The savage living in a land of rich landscapes, of gorgeous birds, of priceless orchids, of reefs of gold, of mines of diamonds, of stores of ivory, and yet unconscious of it all, possessing nothing but a hut and a canoe, is a faint image of thousands in this Christian land who are living utterly unmindful of the boundless spiritual treasure close to their feet. Some of us have received the crowning gift of God; but we have not fully received it. That is a striking passage in Obadiah: "The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions." What a great deal belongs to us that we do not possess! It lies beyond us untouched, unseen, unrealised. Our poor experiences are not the measure of the gift of Christ. We have the dust of gold rather than the gold itself, a few rose leaves rather than the garden, grape gleanings rather than the vintage. And let us not miss the great practical lesson of the text. The theme of the chapter is that of ministering to the saints. If God has been so magnificent in His generosity to us, what ought we to deny our brother? Our thanks for Heaven's infinite gift must be expressed in our practical sympathy with the sons and daughters of misfortune and suffering.

(W. L. Watkinson.).

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