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The apostle assures the Corinthians how much it would grieve him to be obli
ged to shew his apostolic power, by'inflicting any miraculous frunishment on those who continued to oppose him, and concludes with salutations, and a bene ediction. Ch. xiji.
I TT is now, as I said ( Ch. xii. 14.) the third time that I am com
I ing to you. And I shall proceed in my judgment according to that maxim (Numb. xxxv. 30.) Every word shall be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. I have foretold, and do foretel it the second time *, as if I were present ; and being absent,
I now write to those that have sinned already, and to all the rest; 3 that if I come again I will not spare you ; since you seek a further
proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak towards you, but 4 powerful among you by what he has already wrought. For though
he was crucified through weakness, nevertheless he liveth by the power of God: and we are also weak in him, nevertheless we shall live with him by the power of God manifcsted to you in our favour.
You examine and try me, but let me admonish you to turn the search 5 intvard : Examine yourselves whether ye are in the faith ; tho. roughly prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves ?--that
Jesus Christ is in you by his sanctifying influence, unless ye are dis6 approved as silver, which will not stand the touchstone. But I hope 7 ye shall soon know, that we are not disapproved. But + I wish to
God ye may do no evil ; and not that we may be manifested, as approved, [by inflicting any miraculous punishments] but that ye may
do what is good and beautiful, though we should be as if we were 8 disapprovedt. For we are not able to do any thing against the
truth, but for the truth. I wish the regularity of your behaviour ; 9 for we rejoice when we are weak || and ye are strong. And this
also we wish, even your being set in perfect order, and entirely 10 reformed. Therefore I write these things being absent, that when
present, I may not act severely, according to the power which the
Lord hath given me for edification, and not for destruction. 11 Finally r, brethren, farewell : be perfect, be comforted, attend
to the same thing, be peaceful: and the God of love and peace will 1. be with you. Salute each other as cus!omary with an holy kiss. 13 All the saints in this place salute you. The favour of the Lord 14 Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy
Ghost be with you all. Amen.
* This transposition makes the sense less ambiguous. Ed.
† “ Nevertheless." M.-“But I pray. God that he would do UNTO YOU no evil at all.” W.
I i. c. Without evidence of the divine approbation. Or, “without proof of our apostleship. The word in this and the former verse is very improperly rendered reprobates, as that, in the common sense of it, conveys a very different idea.” M.
II i. e. When we have not power to inflict any punishment, because you have no need of it.
REFLECTIONS. Adored be the name of that compassionate Redeemer, who was once crucified as through weakness; and when he could have commanded more than twelve legions of angels to his rescue, voluntarily submitted to be seized and bound, like an helpless mortal, subject to superior force, and thus led away to torture and death! He lives for ever by the power of God, by a life derived from him: may we, weak as we are in ourselves, live through him to all the purposes of the Christian life. And that this life may flourish abundantly, let us be often engaged to examine ourselves; since it will be so great a scandal, and so great a snare, to be strangers at home. ' Do we not indeed after al know oursclves? Let us search, whether Jesus Christ be in us? Whether he be formed in our hearts, whether he live and act in us by his Holy Spirit? Else shall we be treated as reprobate silver ; shall be justly rejected of God, and no gifts or privileges will avail us. Having gained the sure evidences of sincere goodness in ourselves, we may, with the greater cheerfulness and confidence pray for our brethren ; and let us offer the apostle's petition for them, that they may do no evil, but every thing that is just and honourable, beautiful and lovely : never desiring to exalt ourselves on the mistakes and follies of others; but on the contrary, wishing their perfection, and labouring to the utmost to promote it.
How charming a spirit breathes in those sentences in which the apostle takes his leave of the Corinthians! So much wisdom and goodness, that one is almost grieved, that he who bids farewell in such an engaging manner, does it 80 soon. Let us however bear his parting words in mind. When ministers are leaving those among whom they have laboured, when Christian friends are separated from each other, let this be their common petition and care, that they may be improved and comforted; that unanimity and peace may prevail and increase ; and that the God of peace may be with them all: that he may be with them in those happy effects, and blessed operations, which will be the result of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.
How often hath this comprehensive benediction been pronounced ? Let us study it more and more; that we may value it proportionably, that we set ourselves to deliver, or to receive it, with a becoming solemnity; with eyes and hearts ļifted up to God, who, when out of Zion he commandeth the blessing, bestows in it life for evermore. Amen!
[Here ends the fourth volume of the original work.]
THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE GALATIANS.
MALATIA was a province of the Lesser Asia, where the apostle Paul,
about the end of the year 50, made many converts, and planted several churches. But it appears that soon afterwards, some Judaizing zealots had endeavoured to degrade the character of Paul among them, as one not immediately commissioned by Christ, as he other apostles were, and to subvert his doctrine in the grand article of Justification, by insisting on the observation of Jewish ceremonies, and so attempting to incorporate the Law with Christianity. Upon this occasion he wrote this epistle, which he did with his own hand, most probably from Corinth, in the year 53, which was the 13th of the Emperor Claudian.
“ The principal design of it was, to assert and vindicate his apostolical authority and doctrine, to establish and confirm the churches of Galatia in the faith of Christ, especially with respect to the important point of Justification ; to expose the errors that were introduced among them, and to revive those principles of Christianity that he had taught them when he first preached the gospel to them." The apostle treats on the several topics which he introduces in a very methodical manner*, and at the close offers several practical directions to these Christians, exhorting them to a behaviour answerable to their Christian calling, and to the institution of the gospel as a doctrine according to godliness.
The apostle expresses his surprise that the Galatians had 80 soon been led
aside from the simplicity of the gospel. Ch. i. 1–10.
ID AUL an apostle, not from men, nor by any man, but by Je
T sus Christ, and God the Father, who hath raised him from 2 the dead; and all the brethren who are with me, unto the church3 es of Galatia : Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, 4 and from our Lord Jesus Christ; who gave himself for our sins,
that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according 5 to the will of God, even our Father; to whom be glory for ever
and ever! Amen. 6 I am astonished that ye are so soon removed from him that 7 called you, by the grace of Christ, unto another gospelt: which
indeed is not properly another gospel : but there are some, who
trouble you, and are desirous to subvert the gospel of Christ. & But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gos
pel among you, than that which we have preached unto you, let
# The author's excellent analysis of this epistle consists of too many particulars to admit of being here abridged consistently with the brevity of this work. The reader therefore is referred, for a view of the plan, to the Titles of the several sections.
† Or, " that ye are so soon removed to another gospel, from Christ, who. by grace, had called you." A.
9 him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again,
If any one preach any other gospel to you, than that which ye 10 have received, let him be anathema. For do I now solicit the
favour of men, or of God? Or do I seek to please men ? If indeed I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
REFLECTIONS. Let us adore the name of that blessed Redeemer who gave himself a sacrifice for our sins : and may the consideration of his gracious purpose in doing it have its efficacy, 10 deliver us from this present evil world, and to raise our hearts to that to which the Father hath ex. alted him, by whom he was raised from the dead ; to whom, for all the purposes of his grace in the whole scheme of our redemption, be glory for ever and ever. Let the remembrance of this compassionate Saviour, who is the same yesterday, 10-day, and for ever, engage us to be stedfast in the profession of his religion, and to be upon our guard against all who would pervert the gospel. May his ministers especially be exceeding cautious how they do any thing that looks like corrupting it ; since such a dreadful anathema is pronoun. ced against an apostle, or an angel, who should attempt it!
Who can be superior to every alarm on this head that considers the case of the Galatians, who though they received the gospel from the lips of such an apostle as Paul, could be 80 800n removed, and drawn aside to a quite different system? But God made a gracious provision for their being recovered, and confirmed in the primitive faith, by this eristle; which was intended also to be a security to us, that we might learn from hence the purity and simplicity of the Christian doctrine, and be established in the truth as it is in Jesus.-Let the ministers of Christ faithfully preach it, not as seeking to please men, but that God who trieth the hearis ; and who can only be pleased by an entire surrender of the soul to that system of truth and duty which he hath condescended to teach, and by a faithful care to spread its genuine and salutary maxims as widely as they can, without any addition or diminution. To solicit the favour of men, and to endeavour to oblige them, by sacrificing such sacred considerations to any of their prejudices and follies, is to act in a manner utterly unbecoming a servant of Christ ; and so unworthy, a conduct in such as bear the character of ministers, may justly provoke the indignation of their divine master to make them as contemptible as they suffer themselves to become unfaithful.
· Paul shews that his doctrine was not received from men; and, as a proof of
his divine mission, relates some facts which succeeded his conversion, Ch.i. 11, &c.
11 DUT I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which hath bcen 12 D preached by me, is not according to man : For I neither re
ceived it from man, nor was I taught it but by the revelation of 13 Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my conversation in time past in Judaism, that I unmeasurably persecuted the church of God, 14 and ravaged it : and I made proficiency in Judaism * beyond many
of my own nation, who were my equals in age, being more abund15 antly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleas
ed God, who separated me to this office from my mother's woinb, 16 and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might
preach him among the Gentiles; immediately I conferred not 17 with flesh and blood ; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to them that
were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and I returned 18 again to Damascus. Then after threc years I went up to Jerusa19 lemn to visit Peter, and I abode with him fifteen days. But I saw
no one of the apostles besides, except James the brother of the 20 Lord. Now as to the things which I write unto you, behold be21 fore God, I do not lie. Afterwards I came into the regions of 22 Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches 23 of Christ, which were in Judea : but only they had heard, that he
who persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith, which he 24 formerly ravaged : and they glorified God on my account.
REFLECTIONS. Let us also, at this distance of time and country, join with them in glorifying God in this apostle ; in adoring the grace that engaged him to preach the faith he would once have destroyed, and at length to add his own blood to that of the martyrs of Christ which he had shed. Still hath the great Head of the church the same omnipotent efficacy, the same ability to influence the heart, to overcome the strongest pre. judices, and to turn bigots into true believers; and rather than his church shall want its servants and its ornaments, he will find them among its most cruel enemies.-Had the gospel been taught St. Paul by Ananias, or Peter, or any of the apostles, his readiness to receive it. from such teachers, and to preach it at the certain expense of his reputation, his interest, and his life, would no doubt have ranked him among the most illustrious witnesses to the truth of Christianity. But this additional fact, of an original revelation of the whole system of it to him, independent of human teaching, deserves our admiration, and demands our praise. God herein wrought according to the secret counsel of his o will, and that purpose by which he had separated Paul (to this office from the womb. In vain was it opposed by the prevailing prejudices of his education, or by the violence of his zeal for Judaism, and that proficiency in it by which he had eclipsed so many of his cotemporaries, and those of his own nation. All his zeal for the traditions of his fathers gave way to a yet greater zeal for a nobler object ; a zeal, which carried him through Arabia and Syria, through Judea and Cilicia, and prevented him, in one sense as well as another, from consulting with fiosk and blood, from being influenced by any selfish worldly views, or giving heed to any man's opinion.-- Adored be the grace that animated and supported him in overcoming every difficulty ; and having so miraculously furnished him for the great
*i.e. The religion professed by the Jews of his time. . Vol. II.