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faith. The church of Christ is very frequently designed the house of God, and the body of Christ. Here it is set forth in a view which includes every member of the family, and the designation is taken from their way of living, very different indeed from the way of the world. The natural children of Adam have no other way of living but by fight and sense, which can extend no further than sensible objects. But the household of God lives and walks by faith, the belief of the testimony and promises of God concerning unseen, fpiritual, and eternal things. Men may, with no great labour, perceive what is good and profitable to man in his present state; but cannot find proper motives, such as may be strong enough to determine the heart to the practice of them. Nothing but faith can work love, and nothing but love can form the heart into a suitableness uns to the gospel of Christ.
CHAP. vi. II.--18.
ti. Te see how large a letter I have written unto yout
with mine own hand. 12. As many as defire to make a fair New in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only left they should suffer perfecution for the cross of Christ. 13. För neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but defire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh., 14. But God forbid that I should glory, fave in
the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world ' is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15. For
in Christ Jesus neither circumcifion availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and merdy, and upon the Israel of God. 17. From henceforth let no man trouble me'; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. i8. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit. Amen.
W E have here before us the conclus
VV fion of this epistle, and a very proper conclusion it is for such an epistle. He had made very warm intimations of his fatherly care and tender concern about them; and here adds, as no small evidence of it, that he had written this so large a letter to them with his ownz hand. It was an honour that very few, of the many churches he planted, had, to . 3 L 2
receive receive a letter from him; such at least as were thought proper to remain on record for the use of the churches of Christ. But 'even among those which are thus preserved, this is the only one which we are told was written with his own hand. It is certain it was not his ordinary custom. But whe*ther it was to give his rebukes and injunctions more weight with them by this singular condescension, or that his then circumstances did not admit a person to attend him whom he would chuse to employ in this manner, we have no occasion to give ourselves any trouble about: though it appears he was not alone; for he wrote with the concurrence of the brethren who were with him.
But there is one question which hardly ever fails to be put on such occasions; and which, notwithstanding, the Apostle takes little or no notice of throughout this long epistle: If those things the new teachers were so intent on, were really so unprofitable and hurtful, what could have moved them, not only to adhere to them fo tenaciously, but to promote them with such zeal and earnestness? Here he lets them
into the secret of it: verf. 12. They compelled the Galatians to be circumcised, and thereby made a fair fhew in the flesh. But the true motive of their whole conduct was, that they themselves might avoid perJecution on account of the cross of Chrift.
The word our translators make use of in describing the conduct of these false teachers, viz. that they constrained them to be circumcised, does not appear fo proper! to express the meaning of the original; which imports no more than the plain fact, that they made their being circumcised necessary in order to salvation. Nor had they any other compulsion in their power, than what weight this affertion had on the Gentile converts.
The character the Apostle gives of them carries something very instructive in it. They were such as desired to make a fair , shew in the flesh; and as many as had this view, insisted on the necessity of circumcision. He had, chap. ii. 10, set the pleasing of men, and the pleasing God, in a ' direct opposition one to another. The former he renounced with great abhorrence; for this good reason, that if he yet
fought to please men, he could not be the fervant of God. This has been in all ages the great snare in which multitudes have been caught. And it certainly requires a resolution more than merely human to stand firm against the course of the world. Among those who professed the worship of the true God, the Jews were both the most numerous, and the most powerful party. In effect, they had all the worldly power in their hands, and wanted not enough of zeal to employ it against all who differed from them, even to the feverest perfecution. The nearest way of avoiding the effects of it was, either to renounce Christianity altogether, or to bring it into a consistency with Judaism, the then prevailing religion. There needed no more but a flaming zeal for the doctrinal characteristics of that religion, which were indeed all that remained of it at that time, the substance being, as our Lord testifies, destroyed by their traditions. And has not Christianity itself been served much in the same manner? How great a part of the Christian world is to this day overrun with superstitious fopperies of man's invention ? And even where these are de