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NEW SERIES,

ENLARGED AND IMPROVED.

THE EVANGELIST.

EXPOSITIONS,
SKETCHES, AND SERMONS.

NOTES, CRITICAL AND EXPOSITORY, ON THE EPISTLE

TO THE GALATIANS.

(Written expressly for this work.)

CHAP, 1.-INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. In offering a few expository remarks, and occasional critical notices, upon the opening chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians, we shall not bind ourselves to discuss, with the tedious minuteness of a Dutch commentator, every verse and every word which the chapter contains. We rather wish, wherever practicable, to give comprehensive views of the scope of the whole in its successive paragraphs, and shall endeavour to place the English reader as nearly as possible in the position of those to whom the epistle was addressed, founding upon the Apostle's statements general remarks adapted to personal edification.

St. Paul is considered to have planted the gospel in the principal cities of Galatia at an early period of his ministry; and we read in the Acts of the Apostles of different visits which he paid

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them. Its proximity to his native country, Cilicia and Tarsus, may account for the frequency of his intercourse with the Christians in this region, and the marked interest he took in their welfare.

This epistle is considered to be one of the earliest, if not the first, of the fourteen epistles ascribed to St. Paul, being evidently written whilst the Jewish controversy respecting circumcision agitated the churches. It was intended to vindicate and establish the doctrine of justification by faith, and was especially directed to overthrow the error of those who, after having professedly become Christians, were beguiled into the observance of the Mosaic ritual, under the pretence of obtaining greater perfection. As they who advocated this heresy attempted to do it by invalidating St. Paul's claims to the apostleship, and representing him as possessing only a derived and delegated commission, inferior to, and dependent upon, that of the primitive apostles, the first and second chapters are mainly occupied with the refutation of this objection.

The devotedness of St. Paul to the advancement of the glory of Christ, is apparent, as in all his other writings, so in every part of this epistle. He displays not only the resistless energy of a skilful advocate of divine truth, but the warmth and ardour of a man whose whole soul was engaged in his work. intellect is all feeling, his feeling all intellect.” This renders an epistle upon a subject, which would seem to promise little more than a dry and barren discussion, consisting but of few topics, and apparently incapable of expansive illustration, replete with interest, especially to those who, in their inquiries after truth, love to detect the internal processes of the mastermind that at once instructs and delights them. Whether Paul and Peter were to be held in equal honour as apostles, or not; whether circumcision should, or should not, be practised under the Christian economy; whether Hagar, and Sarah, Ishmael, and Isaac, were or were not the types and representatives of the legal and Christian dispensations; might appear, to a casual observer, questions only of limited and temporary concern, not susceptible of much impression, excepting to the parties origin

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ally engaged in the controversy. For himself, who was in his own sight “less than the least of all saints,” the degree of estimation in which he was to be held by the “foolish Galatians," must have been of very little moment. But when the truth of the gospel, and the efficacy of the atonement, and the mediatorial glory of Christ, were struck at in his person, and were made to stand or fall with the question of his divine appointment to his office, the case assumed a widely different aspect, and it became him to wield his weapons of celestial proof with the vigour and determination of a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, in the hands of the apostle, writing under the guidance of inspiration, these themes become invested with a grandeur and elevation which have awakened, through every succeeding age, an intense and imperishable interest.

Ver. 1.-—“PAUL AN APOSTLE (NOT OF MAN, NEITHER BY MAN,

BUT BY JESUS CHRIST, AND GOD THE FATHER, WHO RAISED
HIM FROM THE DEAD.")

He begins by vindicating his own position as an apostle, and distinctly shows what he is not, as well as what he is. He proves that he was not called to the ministry by the other apostles, as Matthias was after the death of Judas, nor by the suffrages of any particular church as Barnabas and Silas had been; but that he derived his commission directly from heaven, as distinctly as any of the prophets of the Old Testament had done, or the early apostles of the New.

The statement that he received his appointment to the apostolic office “not from man,and yet that he received it from CHRIST, undeniably intimates the superior nature of our Lord; for had the Saviour been any mere man, however exalted, the expression had lost all its force. Hence this passage has always been regarded as having an important bearing upon the proper divinity of the Son of God, especially in conjunction with the fact, that to Him is invariably ascribed a perfect oneness and identity of power and authority with the eternal Father, relatively to the calling of the apostles, and to all the institutions of the Christian Church. "Paul an apostle by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead."

St. Paul was anxious to have a divine sanction to his religious and ministerial character, and his concern rebukes those who are more solicitous to have their credentials counter-signed by man, than to attain the testimony that they have pleased God. All real religion must be divinely derived--the life of God in the soul of man. “This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise."

The reference in this address to “ God the Father," is not without great cogency in relation to the apostle's argument. The divinity of the Gospel as coming from God was a point to be strongly pressed upon the unbelieving Jews, who urged that the ancient law was a divine institution, but unblushingly denied that the Gospel was, which they affected to consider a recent novelty, and of human invention. With equal force is "the raising of Christ from the dead" introduced here, partly because this great fact is the key-stone of the arch of Christianity, being an express divine attestation to its truth; and partly as it was a tacit commendation of the superiority of his apostleship, from this singularity in it, that he was ordained by Christ to this office after his resurrection, whereas the other apostles were called by him in his state of humiliation and debasement, before he was exalted to universal rule and supremacy.

The Bible enjoins upon us the duty of trying every doctrine by the proper standard, before we adopt it, instead of bowing to the assumed and unsupported authority of man. He who speaks authoritatively, as from God, must be expressly commissioned by him, and be able to attest that commission in a manner suitable to the dispensation under which he lives. Men are not to follow every pretender to inspiration, but only the man who, like St. Paul, can satisfactorily establish his claims to that distinction. God never sent messengers to this world of ours without accrediting their message, so that the people could not be imposed upon without their own fault. The ancient prophets were always so accredited, as were also the evangelists and apostles; generally by means of the possession, either uniformly or

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occasionally, of miraculous powers. To us, the finished canon of Scripture, sustained by recorded miracles, and a great variety of overwhelming evidence, stands in the place of immediate communications, and leaves us without excuse, if, thus knowing God, we glorify him not as God. But if any one now claimed authority from God, it would be our duty to demand similar attestations to those which were in like cases formerly given. We reject the assumptions of Mahomet,-of the church of Rome, -and of all kindred claimants, just because, whatever the amount of pretension, the needful attestations are wanting.

Christianity does what no false religion ever dared to do: it demands that its evidences should be accurately, jealously sifted. It does not ask, it will not receive, implicit, servile, superstitious adherence, but scorns that attachment which is not based upon serious enquiry and intelligent conviction. The master himself said, “ff I do not the works of my Father, believe me not:" and adds, “ If I had not done among them the works that none other man did, they had not had sin.And the apostle, instead of asking them to take his gospel upon trust, unrols before his readers the evidences of his apostleship, and occupies nearly two chapters with the preliminary theme. The fault of the foolish Galatians was, that whilst they neglected his testimony in the face of the amplest evidence, they credulously received “another gospel" at the hand of some itinerant impostor, without asking for any evidence at all!

Ver. 2.-—" ALL THE BRETHREN THAT ARE WITH ME TO THE

CHURCHES OF GALATIA, GRACE BE TO YOU AND PEACE.” Our religion is not designed to terminate upon ourselves, but to benefit those with whom we associate. As the touched needle has the power to impart something of its own magnetic virtue to kindred substances brought into contact with it, so true grace is always communicative, and delights to diffuse the moral impressions which it has received. The early churches set a noble pattern, in this respect, to the men of succeeding times.

Mark here, their unity of sentiment in the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith. Paul blends the testimony of his

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