As confident and fully persuaded as the apostle was of the readiness and willingness of mind that was found in the Corinthians towards this charitable contribution, yet he judgeth it both expedient and necessary to send the brethren before to them, to get all things ready, the collection finished and over; that so when he himself, and the Macedonians, should come to Corinth, he might not be put to blush for them, having made great boasts of their charity, but finding no deeds: and also he desires their collection may be ready, with respect to themselves, that so their beneficence may appear to be their own free bounty, and not a collection difficultly extorted from them, as from covetous men, who give grudgingly and unwilligly.
Note here, 1. That it is very lawful for the ministers of Christ to use an holy craft, and innocent guilt, to draw men to a speedy compliance with their duty, sometimes by engaging their reputation in it, and sometimes alluring them by just praises to the doing of it. Thus our apostle did here.
Note, 2. That the readiness which St. Paul here presses them to, is not the readiness of the mind, but the readiness of the action: he was well satisfied, that they were ready in their preparation of the mind long ago, but he presses them to finish the collection, of which he had so much boasted to the Macedonians.
Note, 3. How the blessed apostle did consult the Corinthians' honour and reputation equally with his own and was as desirous to prevent reflection upon them as upon himself; he would not have them ashamed, no more than himself, at his coming among them.
Note, 4. That a liberal free-giving to the saints in distress, is called here kharis khae enlogia, grace and blessing: we translate it bounty. It is called grace, because an heart to give liberally is wrought in us by the grace of God; the world shuts up our hearts till God opens them; and if the heart be open, the hands will not be shut: and works of charity are a blessing of God with our substance, and the way and means to produce his blessing upon our substance. Giving to distressed saints in proportion to what God has given us, is by Almnighty God accounted a blessing of him, and a blessing of our fellow-brethren; and whoever thus blesses God shall be blessed by him.
Note, 5. That the Corinthians being a very rich and wealthy people, the apostle stirs them up to an abundant charity. Where God gives much, he expects much: but how many, alas, grudge God a little of his own; and how difficultly is that little drawn from them, like drops of blood! Whereas to give alms purely to satisfy the importunity of others, or out of shame, misses of its reward before God.