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apostle's fervent supplications on their behalf. And that these blessings might also be vouchsafed to the Israel of God, to the circumcised descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, as well as to Gentile believers in Christ. While the apostle earnestly contended against the Gentiles being brought under the yoke of the law of Moses, his heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel was, that they might be saved ;** and he regarded those among them who were truly the children of God with peculiar interest and affection, as his brethren in the flesh as well as in the Lord.
But as he had met with great opposition and persecution from his own countrymen; and as the false teachers who had endeavoured to subvert the souls of the Galatians would, he knew, be greatly displeased at his exposure of their unworthy motives for inculcating the necessity of circumcision upon the Gentiles; he adds, From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body.the marks of the Lord Jesus. He had suffered before and been shamefully entreated ,25 he had been repeatedly scourged both by Jews and Gentiles, he had been stoned and left for dead. His body retained the marks of the injuries that he had received on these occasions, while he was engaged in the service of Christ, to make known His great salvation to his perishing fellow sinners. He did not however repent of what he had done, notwithstanding the persecution and suffering that it had brought upon him. He was still willing to endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.26 Although he had received many a wound in the conflict in which he had been engaged, he was resolved still to continue his warfare against the powers of darkness, under the banner of the Captain of his salvation; and to endeavour to deliver the prey out of the hand of the spoiler. As an old soldier in a good cause, under a good sovereign, he was not ashamed of his wounds, nor afraid to meet even death itself in the fight. He was determined to persevere to the end undauntedly, to be faithful unto death, knowing that he should then receive the crown of life. And therefore those who opposed him might be assured that the trouble which they endeavoured to bring upon him would be to no purpose, it would not divert him from the cause which he was pursuing; on which account he advises them, for their own sakes, to trouble him no further by attempting to make divisions in the church of Christ.
He concludes his epistle with his customary prayer: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. This brings the greatest happiness that the soul of man is capable of possessing. To have the spirit of the mind influenced from above by Divine grace, so as to have the mind of Christ, the same mind that was in Him; to have the spirit raised to things above, and the affections set upon them, is indeed a source of joy unspeakable and full of glory. May this blessedness be our portion. Let us seek to enjoy it, that we may be happy in the knowledge and love of God on earth, and may rejoice in hope of the glory of God hereafter.
24 Rom. x. I.
25 2 Thess. ii. 2.
26 2 Tim. ii. 10.
27 Rev. ii. 10.
Having taken this cursory view of the Epistle for this day, let us now consider more particularly the verse which has been selected for the text. It contains,
First, The ground of the apostle's glorying ; and
Secondly, The consequences of his making this profession.
May we be led by the consideration of it to adopt the same language for ourselves, and enjoy the blessedness resulting from it.
First, The apostle declared, God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It need scarcely be observed, that the apostle did not mean to glory in the cross of wood upon which our blessed Saviour suffered death. But so many marvellous stories have been circulated by members of the Romish church, respecting the virtues of what they call pieces of the true cross, that it is evident there is no opinion too absurd to be adopted by the superstitious. The apostle had no veneration for relics of this description. Had the wood of the cross been presented to him as an object worthy of his veneration, he would doubtless have done with it as Hezekiah did with the brazen serpent to which the children of Israel burnt incense; to whose honour it is recorded that he brake it in pieces, and he called it Nehushtan, or said it was merely a piece of brass, 28 and therefore should have no Divine honours paid to it. It is awful to see what fables they will turn to who turn away their ears from hearing the truth of God. What indignation would have fired the mind of St. Paul, if he could have imagined that his words would be tortured to so base a meaning, as that he gloried in a piece of wood !
He has himself explained the meaning of this expression in other epistles. In the first chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, he says that Christ sent him to preach the gospel; this he then terms the preaching of the cross; and after declares, We preach Christ crucified. In the epistle to the Ephesians, he speaks of Christ reconciling us unto God by the cross.34 And to the Colossians he states, that He made peace through the blood of His cross.31 By glorying in the cross of Christ then, the apostle meant to express his
28 2 Kings xviii. 4. 29 2Tim.iv. 4. 301 Cor.i.17,18,23. 31 Col.i. 20.
dependence upon the obedience unto death of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the only foundation of hope to guilty sinners for the , pardon of their sins, for reconciliation to God, and the enjoyment of His favour, and for everlasting salvation. His suffering on the cross was the consummation of that work, for the accomplishment of which our adorable Redeemer came upon earth; and therefore the mention of it was designed to express all that He did and suffered “ for us men and for our salvation.” By the cross of Christ then, we are to understand the apostle to mean the crucifixion and death of the Lord and Saviour, or His dying upon the cross as the substitute for the guilty transgressors of the law of God; His putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, 39 so that by means of His death upon the cross, it was manifested that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them: for He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.33
In this doctrine of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, or of God's method of pardoning sin through the propitiation of Christ, the apostle gloried. This was the great subject of his ministry. He continually proclaimed that in Christ we sinners have redemption through His blood, the
32 Heb. ix. 26.
33 2 Cor. v. 19, 21.
34 Eph. i. 7,8; ii. 16.