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work to which he was called, made him so gloriously successful in it. So may we be enabled to surmount every obstacle ! and so may we lie taught, as to those things which we have inost highly esteemed, to count them all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and to grudge r.o labour, self-denial, or suffering, by which the gospel may be any way promoted or adorned, and a testimony given of our faithful subjection to it!
The apostle informs them of his journey to Jerusalem, and of his intervietu
with the apostles fourteen years after his conversion. Ch. ii. 1-10.
THEN fourteen years after my conversion I went up again to Je. 2 I rusalem, with Barnabas, and I took Titus also with me. But
I went up by a special revelation to consult the apostles and elders there (cis Xv, 2.) and laid before them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles ; but this I did privately, to those only who were of note, lest I should run, or had hitherto run in vain, as
the good rffects of my past or future labours might have been obstruct3 ed by their prijudices. But I did not in any instance give up the
liberty of my Gentile brethren, for (not even] Titus who was with 4 me, though a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised; * because
of the false brethren, that were artfully introduced; who had slip
ped in to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that 5 they might bring us into bondage : to whom we did not give
place by subjection, for so much as an hour : that the truth of the 6 gospel night continue with you. But of those [apostles) who ap
peared to be of most considerable note, how great soever they formerly were (during the life of Christ) i maketh no difference
as to me; God accepteth no man's person ; for they who were of 7 the greatest note added nothing further to me t: but on the con
trary they acknowledged my tille to apostleship: and seeing that I
was intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, as Peter was 8 arith that of the circumcision (for he who wrought effectually in
Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought effectually 9 also in me for the Gentiles :) and knowing the grace that was give
to me, James and Cephas (i.e. Peter) and John, who appeared to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship,
that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision. 10 Only they firoposed that we should be mindful of the poor Chris
tians in Judea, which very thing I also was forward to do.
REFLECTIONS. Warm and eager as the temper of St. Paul naturally was, it must certainly give us great pleasure to observe in how prudent and steady a manner he conducted himself, when once engaged in the sacred work of the Christian ministry and apostleship. With what integrity
* Every reader must see the improvements here made by Dr. M. + Either as to knowledge, gifts, or authority. M.
and resolution did he behave on the one hand, that he would not give place for an hour to the false brethren, who had slipped in among his converts to spy out and subvert their liberty? And on the other, with what caution, that he might not frustrate the purposes of his own ministry, by carrying that which was in general the cause of truth, of liberty, and justice, to an excess ? Thus also let us act, holding the truth in love and in prudence, and labouring to do all the good we can with as little offence as possible. While we are contending for the liberty of Christians, against the imposition of things which at best are indifferent, we may possibly be obliged to dispute the point with some who are persons of worth and eminence; but God accepteth no man's person. We may give them all the honour that is due to their wisdom, their piety, and their station, without yielding up what ought to be dearer to us than any human approbation or friendship, the dictates of our conscience as in the sight of God.
Persons of true steadiness and candour, such as deserve to be esteemed pillars of the church, will not suffer themselves to be so borne down by popular prejudices as to disown their brethren, whom God hath honoured with the ministry as well as themselves, because they exercise it in some diversity of forms; but will be willing (so far as they can) to give them the right-hand of fellowship, and will perhaps wish to be able to do it more entirely and openly than some human constitutions will admit. In this however may we all agree, after the example of this blessed apostle, ever to do what we can to promote mutual charity among different denoninations of Christians; to be expressed by a readiness to bear one another's burdens and to afford liberal relief as providence gives opportunity. And we shall find, that as a disunion of hearts adds weight to the least cause of division, so fervent and unfeigned love will by mutual condescension and indulgence heal the breach, or happily prevent is most fatal consequences.
· SECTION IV.
Paul mentions his opposing Peter at Antioch, and defending the liberty of the
church from Jewish imposition. Ch. ii. 11, &c.
11 DUT when Peter was come to Antioch, I opposed him to the 12 D face, because he was to be blamed; for before some Jewish
zealots came from James, he did freely eat with the Gentiles ;
but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, 13 fearing them of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissem
bled also with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with 14 their dissimulation. But when I saw that they did not walk up
rightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in the presence of them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the man
ner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, why dost thou now 15 compel the converted] Gentiles to (judaize?] We who are by
nature, birth, and education, Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but
by the faith of Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Jesus
Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not
by the works of the law: for r by the works of the law no flesh 17 shall be justified. But if seeking to be justified by Christ, we
ourselves also are found sinners, o is Christ then the minister of 18 sin ? God forbid! --Now if I build again the things which I de19 stroyed, I acknowledge myself a transgressor; for I through the 20 law am dead to the law, that I might live to God. I am crucified
with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live in the failli,
which is of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered him21 self up for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if right
eousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
REFLECTIONS. It is a most generous and worthy spirit that was shewn by the aposs tle Paul on this occasion, in his being so ready to stand up for Christian liberty, and to reprove even Peter himself, though so honoured and beloved a brother, when he acted a cowardly and inconsistent part. He did not meanly censure him to others, and endeavour by private insinuations to lessen his character ; but by his openly rebuking him he shewed himself a sincere friend, and took the most effectual method to prevent the ill consequences of his dissimulation, and at the same time to recover his brother to a more worthy and consistent conduct.-How little there is in all this passage that looks like any peculiar auihority assumed on the part of St. Peter, or acknowledged by St. Paul, every unprejudiced reader will easily observe: and perhaps God might suffer this great apostle of the circumcision thus to fall, and to be thus corrected by the apostle of the Gentiles, the more effectually to discountenance those arrogant and groundless claims of the pretended successors of St. Peter to supremacy and infallibility, which have introduced so much confusion and infamy into the church.
We may well rejoice in the review of a passage which so strongly asserts Christian liberty on the one hand, and exemplifies the very life of Christian grace on the other. Let it ever be retained in our memories, that we are justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; and may our conduct be agreeable to the doctrine we profess, giving up all expectations inconsistent with this decision, yet ever remembering that Christ is not the minister of sin. Let faith in him engage us, whilst dead to the law as a covenant of works, to be observant of it as a rule of life, and so to live to God as those who are still under a law to Christ ; and, animated by the influences of his grace, may our souls feel more and more of the efficacy of his death, who loved us and gave himself for us.
Strongly indeed will the affecting consideration of the death of Christ impress our hearts, when we are conscious of our interest and concern in it. May the impression last through life ; and may we remember that we are not merely to make one solemn address to our adorable Redcemer, committing by an act of faith our souls into his hands; but that our faith is daily to be rencwing its views of him, that so the life which we now live in the flesh, in the midst of so many
vanities and dangers, may be conducted by the continual influence of this principle. May we therefore daily regard him as our instructor and governor, our atonement and intercessor, our example and strength, our guardian and forerunner: and in proportion to the degree in which such views as these prevail, the grace of God, instead of being frustrated, will be the more admired and esteemed ; and as it was impossible that righteousness should be attainable by the law, it will appear Christ hath not died in vain, but that his death was necessary to procure our justification, and is the only sure foundation of our faith and hope.
The apostle reproves their instability respecting the doctrine of justification
by fuith ; which he confirms from the instance of Abraham, who was thus justified. Ch. iii. 1—14.
n YE foolish « Galatians ! who hath enchanted you, that you
should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ 2 hath been evidently set forth crucified (FOR) you? This only I
would learn of you, Did ye receive the Spirit by the works of the 3 law, or by the hearing of faith ? Are you so foolish r [that] hay
ing begun in the Spirit, ye are now made perfect* by the flesh ? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain, if indeed it be yet in 5 vain ? as I hope it is not. He therefore that ministereth to you
the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth he it by the 6 works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ? even as you read
that.“ Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for 7 righteousness.” Know ye therefore, that all they who are of 8 faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture
(the Holy Spirit therein) foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, did before preach the gospel unto Abra9 ham, saying, “ In thee shall all nations be blessed." So then they 10 who are of faith, are blessed with believing Abraham. For as
many as are of the works of the law are under a curse : for it is written, “ Cursed is every one, who continueth not in all things
which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Deut. xxvii. 11 26.) And that no man is justified in the sight of God by the law
is evident; for it is said ( Hab. ii. 4.) “ The just shall live by faith.” 12 Now the law is not of faith, but declares concerning its precepis
(Lev. xviii. 5.) “ The man that doth them, shall live by them." 13 But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being
made a curse for us : (for it is written (Deut. xxi. 23.) “ Cursed 14 is every one, that hangeth on a tree :") that the blessing of Abra
ham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus ; that we might through faith receive the promise of the Spirit.
*"--that ye now make yourselves perfect" (middle voice.) M.
REFLECTIONS. Through the amazing goodness of God to us we share with the Galatians in this great privilege, that Jesus Christ crucified is evidenily set forth among us. Let us make the object familiar to our view, to our hearts : and O that we may all feel its powerful influence, to engage us to obey the truth, and to comply with the practical design of the gospel ! O that none of the enchantments of this vain world may be able to draw us aside from a becoming regard to it ! May those especially, who have begun in the Spirit, and perhaps have suffered many difficulties already in the cause of religion, be concerned that they may not suffer 80 many things in vain, and after all their pretensions and hopes make an end in the flesh, by forsaking that excellent cause !
That we may be deemed the children of Abraham, let us have the same faith with him ; that believing in God as he did, and trusting in the promised Messiah, we may attain that righteousness which it is impossible to obtain by the deeds of the law, which insists upon perfect obedience, and passes sentence upon every one that has transgressed it. Nothing can be more important than to endeavour to impress our souls with this great and fundamental truth, that if we are of the works of the law, and trust in these for justification, we are under a curse. ( that God may graciously thunder that curse in the ears of sleeping sinners, and make them sensible of their guilt and danger ; that as prisoners of justice, yet in some measure prisoners of hope, they may flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. We need not go far for help. No sooner are we wounded (as it were in one verse, than we find provision for our healing in another. For Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law; and this in a method never sufficiently to be admired, even by making himself a ransom, yea and becoming a curse for us i submitting, not only to great infamy and wretchedness in his life, but to an ignominious and accursed death, being slain and hung upon a tree.To him let us apply, that the curse may be removed : and with humble confidence in him, let us lift up our eyes in cheerful expectation, that though by birth we are Gentiles, the blessing of Abraham will come upon us, and that through faith we shall receive the promise of the Spiris. And what promise can be more valuable than this ? what blessing more desirable, than to be enlightened, to be quickened, to be sanctified, to be comforted by the Spirit? As the just, may we live by faith; and make it our daily request at the throne of grace, that God will implant and increase that divine principle in our hearts, even such a faith as shall work by love, and prove a genuine principle of sincere and universal obcdience.