on 1-corinthians 9 :11
If we have sown unto you spiritual things - If we have been the means of bringing you into a state of salvation by the Divine doctrines which we have preached unto you, is it too much for us to expect a temporal support then we give ourselves up entirely to this work? Every man who preaches the Gospel has a right to his own support and that of his family while thus employed.
on 1-corinthians 9 :11
If we have sown unto you spiritual things - If we have been the means of imparting to you the gospel, and bestowing upon you its high hopes and privileges; see the note at Romans 15:27. The figure of "sowing," to denote the preaching of the gospel, is not unfrequently employed in the Scriptures; see John 4:37, and the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:3 ff.
Is it a great thing ... - See the note at Romans 15:27. Is it to be regarded as unequal, unjust, or burdensome? Is it to be supposed that we are receiving that for which we have not rendered a valuable consideration? The sense is, "We impart blessings of more value than we receive. We receive a supply of our temporal needs. We impart to you, under the divine blessing, the gospel, with all its hopes and consolations. We make you acquainted with God; with the plan of salvation; with the hope of heaven. We instruct your children; we guide you in the path of comfort and peace; we raise you from the degradations of idolatry and of sin; and we open before you the hope of the resurrection of the just, and of all the bliss of heaven; and to do this, we give ourselves to toil and peril by land and by sea. And can it be made a matter of question whether all these high and exalted hopes are of as much value to dying man as the small amount which shall be needful to minister to the needs of those who are the means of imparting these blessings?" Paul says this, therefore, from the reasonableness of the case. The propriety of support might be further urged:
(1) Because without it the ministry would be comparatively useless. Ministers, like physicians, lawyers, and farmers, should be allowed to attend mainly to the great business of their lives, and to their appropriate work. No physician, no farmer, no mechanic, could accomplish much, if his attention was constantly turned off from his appropriate business to engage in something else. And how can the minister of the gospel, if his time is nearly all taken up in laboring to provide for the needs of his family?
(2) the great mass of ministers spend their early days, and many of them all their property, in preparing to preach the gospel to others. And as the mechanic who has spent his early years in learning a trade, and the physician and lawyer in preparing for their profession, receive support in that calling, why should not the minister of the gospel?
(3) people in other things cheerfully pay those who labor for them. They compensate the schoolmaster, the physician, the lawyer; the merchant, the mechanic; and they do it cheerfully, because they suppose they receive a valuable consideration for their money. But is it not so with regard to ministers of the gospel? Is not a man's family as certainly benefited by the labors of a faithful clergyman and pastor, as by the skill of a physician or a lawyer, or by the service of the schoolmaster? Are not the affairs of the soul and of eternity as important to a man's family as those of time and the welfare of the body? So the music-master and the dancing master are paid, and paid cheerfully and liberally; and yet can there be any comparison between the value of their services and those of the minister of the gospel?
(4) it might be added, that society is benefited in a "pecuniary" way by the service of a faithful minister to a far greater extent than the amount of compensation which he receives. One drunkard, reformed under his labors, may earn and save to his family and to society as much as the whole salary of the pastor. The promotion of order, peace, sobriety, industry, education, and regularity in business, and honesty in contracting and in paying debts, saves much more to the community at large than the cost of the support of the gospel. In regard to this, any man may make the comparison at his leisure, between those places where the ministry is established, and where temperance, industry, and sober habits prevail, and those places where there is no ministry, and where gambling, idleness, and dissipation abound. It is always a matter of "economy" to a people, in the end, to support schoolmasters and ministers as they ought to be supported.
Reap your carnal things - Partake of those things which relate to the present life; the support of the body, that is, food and raiment.
on 1-corinthians 9 :11
9:11 Is it a great matter if we shall reap as much of your carnal things - As is needful for our sustenance? Do you give us things of greater value than those you receive from us?