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which has not the suffrage of the saints, may justly be suspected. As the Galatians certainly knew from whence the apostle wrote so large a letter unto them; they could not but readily understand whom he meant by the brethren that were with him. All the rest of his epistics, that to the Hebrews excepted, are directed either to one church, or to one person, but this is audressed unto the churches of Galatia. Though dis. tinct churches, yet as the leaven of legalism had infected them all, chap. v. 9. the same epistle was directed to them all. How many they were we cannot with certainty say. Some tell us that anciently, Galatia contained two and twenty noted cities. But as we know not how many of these received the gospel, wecannot ascertain what number of churches were in that province, It has often been observed that the apostle does not salute them as he was wont to do other churches. He neither calls them beloved, saints, nor faithful, but just the churches of Galatia. Faithful, indeed, he could not pronounce them, as they had so soon turned aside unto another gospel. After his usual benediction, and a so. lemn doxology to God, from whom alone comes every blessing, he expresses his surprise that they had so soon removed from him who called them into the
grace of Christ, ụnto another gospel.
Having vindicated his authority, and irrefragably proved that he was not inferior to Peter, James, or John, he begins in the third chapter to reason with them, in the closest and most convincing manner. In the first five verses he puts as many interrogations to them. Every one of which could not but be as a nail fixcd in a sure place. As they had turned aside from the promise to the law, expecting to be justified by their obedience unto it, he very pertinently enters into a train of reasoning concerning both. Having observ. ed that they who are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham, and that as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse, chap. iii. 9, 10. he goes on to delineate the nature of that covenant which they had deserted, and of that law unto which they now so tena
ciously adhered. Going on the common maxim, that if a man's covenant be confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto, he thence infers that the covenant which was confirmed of God in Christ unto Abraham, the law which was 430 years after, could not disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect, verses 15, 17.
He next proceeds to shew that the law was added to the promise, not to give life by virtue of obedience unto it, as they foolishly imagined; but because of transgressions, until the Seed should come, to whom the promise was made, verses 19, 21. At Sinai it was added, not on account of the sin of the golden calf, as some preposterously teach, but because of transgressions, viz. that by it men might see the evil of sin, which could not be expiated but by the death of Christ the personal Seed, agreeably to which, the same Apostle tells us elsewhere, the law entered that sin might abound, Rom. v. 20. i. e. not that sin might have a more extensive spread in the hearts and lives of men, God forbid, but that its turpitude and malignity might be more visible unto all. The law of ceremonies was added till the Seed should come, to whom the promise was made, i. e. until Christ the personal seed should come, verse 16. to whom indeed the promise of the heavenly inheritance was originally made, made before the world began, Luke xxii. 29. Titus i. 2.
Having thus marked the period during which the ceremonial law was to remain, the Apostle proceeds in the beginning of this chapter where my text lies, to point out the different states of the church before and since the Seed did come: observing, that previous to that illustrious æra, the heirs of promise were in a state of minority, and in bondage under the elements or rudiments of the world, viz. the ceremonial ordinances, compare Colossians ii. 20, 21.; but that now their childhood being gone, their comparative servitude is also at an end. From this he takes occasion to point out unto the judaizing Galatians their egregious folly in desiring to retain those ceremonies, wbich, as well by
their own nature, as by the appointment of God, could continue no longer than till Christ should come. He puts the pungent question to them, Now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? It is evident that by these elements he means circumcision, and all the train of cermonies to which it was introductory. Compare chap. v. 3. and vii. 12, 13. He calls them weak, because they could not give life, chap. iii. 21. Heb. vii. 18.; and beggarly, for that now like the daughters of the horse leech, they were perpetually crying, Give, give. Before the advent of the Seed, they were shadows of good things to come, Col. ii. 17. Heb. x. 1.
But now that He the body was come, they were such shadows no
The Galatians in retaining and resting upon them for justification, did not only return as to the Old Testament dispensation, which was now done away by the coming of the illustrious Seed, but they also in effect renounced Him. Their turning back to these ceremonies was, as the apostle told them in the very beginning of his address, a turning aside unto another gospel, chap. i. 6. For if righteousness was to be had by the law, then Christ was dead in vain, chap. ii. ult. They were not therefore in the same predicament with Old Testament saints, who, by means of the cere. monial shadows, were led unto Christ himself; for being desirous to be justified by the law, they were fallen from grace, chap. v. 4. Deeply affected with this, the Apostle says, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain, chap. iv. 11. In testimony, however, of his unshaken affection for them who once received him as an angel of God, yea, as Christ Jesus, he addresses them as born, in the 12th verse, and as his little children in the 19th, children of whom he travailed in birth again, until Christ should be formed in them. He travailed as in birth when he preached the gospel unto them at the first, verse 13th. From his laborious care, his warnings night and day, his humility of mind, his pressure of spirit,
and his many tears, at Corinth and Ephesus, Acts xviii. 5. and xx. 19, 31. we may form some idea of his incessant labours among the churches of Galatia. Nothing would he leave unattempted, that had a tendency to open their eyes, turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. With what plainness of speech would he tell them of their misery by nature. With what pathos would he dwell on the wonders of redeeming love. With what warmth would he exhort them to walk in the statutes of the Lord! How would he long for their conversion, as ever did the pregnant woman for her delivery! But alas, after all, he was now afraid, lest he had bestowed upon them labour in vain. He was ready to cry out, as in the language of the prophet, We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, Isaiah xxvi. 18. Nevertheless, he does not despair, but travails in birth again until Christ be formed in them. I desire, says he, to be present with you, and to change my voice, for I stand in doubt of you; or as the margin hath it, I am per. plexed for you. And as if present, he puts the question to them, Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? q. d. If ye appeal to the law,
. by its decision ye must abide. For it is written, says he, that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise.
These things are historical facts, and not matters of law, properly speaking. But the apostle useth the word law here, in the same sense in which it was often used by the Jews, wbo divided the scriptures into three parts, viz. the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. Compare Luke xxiv. 44. Therefore when the apostle says, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? his meaning is plainly this, ye who do desire to be justified by the law, do ye not hear the Scripture?
Having told them what is written concerning Abraham's two sons, the one by a bond woman, the other by a free; he, in the soth verse, plainly declares what the law or scripture determines as to both. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Why, this is its express decision, cast out the bond woman and her son, for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. Having mentioned the history of the two women and their sons, he next informs the legalists of Galatia, concerning the important mystery wrapped up in these matters.
Which things, says he, are an allegory; properly, are allegorized. The apostle did not make them an allegory, but teaches that he had found them allegorized already An alJegory is a figure in speech, whereby one thing being said, another is signified: or it is a representation of some doctrinal point by history. For, says our text, these are the two covenants, i. e. these two women signify the two covenants. Agar is called the one, consequently Sara must be the other. In the scripture account of these two women and their sons, there was not only an history concerning facts, as in other instances without number, but there was a mystery; as being intended by the omniscient God to prefigure the nature of the two covenants, and the very opposite states of such as are under them.
Before the apostle finishes his argument, and therewith the doctrinal part of the epistle, he shews that the history of the two women is allegorized. For it is written, says he, Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children, than she who hath an husband. On this authority, after having mentioned the history of the two mothers, he might justly say, which things are allegorized; for these are the two covenants: the one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
In discoursing from which words, I intend to shew as the all-gracious God may be pleased to assist.