Page images

Circumcision of no avail.


Influence of error.


A. D. 59. He exhorts them not to submit to circumcision, but to cultivate

that called you. A little leaven leaveneth the 9 whole lump. Yet I have confidence in you 10

brotherly love; he enumerates the works of the flesh, and the fruits of through the Lord, that ye will not think otherthe Spirit, &c.

2 BEHOLD, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man who is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole 4 law. Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you seek to be accounted righteous by the law; ye are fallen from the doctrine 5 of grace. For we through the Spirit look for 6 the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which but faith which 7 worketh by love. Ye did run well; who hath hindered you that ye should not obey the should not obey the 8 truth? This persuasion came not from him

[ocr errors]

whole body of the saints were but in a state of minority, though heirs of the promises, and of a future blessed inheritance. In like manner, every believer in this world is but a minor, and in many respects inferior to those who have no part in the inheritance. Let such indulge the pleasing hope, that a time will come, when, as an heir who is deemed of age, he shall be admitted to full and durable possession. And assuredly this will amply repay all the trials and mortifications of that state in which it hath pleased our heavenly Father to place us.

2. We are taught the foundation of the believer's hope, which is the infinite love of our heavenly Father, in sending forth his Son at the appointed time, made of a woman, made under the law, subject both to its precepts and penalties, to redeem us from its curse, and confer on us the blessing of adoption, with all its privileges. May we receive more abundant measures of the spirit of adoption; and with the feelings of reverence, confidence, and love, be enabled to cry, "Abba, Fa

wise than I do: but he who troubleth you shall
bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And as to 11
myself, brethren, if I still preach circumcision,
why do I still suffer persecution? in that case
the offence of the cross would be done away.
I could wish that they were even cut
off 12
who trouble you. For, brethren, ye have 13
been called to freedom; only use not freedom
for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve
one another. For the whole law is fulfilled 14
by one precept, even by this; "Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself." But if ye 15
bite and devour one another, take heed that
ye be not consumed by one another.

Now I say, Walk by the Spirit, and fulfil 16

ther." May the spirit of his Son, dwell in our hearts, and assure us of our interest in him, and of our right to consider heaven as our home, and our rest for ever.

3. Let us be thankful for our superior privileges, and endeavour to improve them for the purpose of growing in holiness and spirituality. We live under God's last and best dispensation of grace and mercy; and in this respect may consider ourselves as children of the free-woman. Let us maintain a spirit becoming our state, and not yield up our freedom for that yoke of bondage and slavery some would again impose on us; nor let us at any time show the temper of the son of the bond-woman, by deriding and persecuting others. It is much better, if the will of God so be, to suffer than to sin by occasioning others to suffer. It is a cause of gratitude that the christian church, like Sarah, who was for a season barren, has produced many children. O that she may increase with men like a flock,

and are persecuted as Isaac was, it follows that we are children of the free


CHAP. V. 1. Stand firmly, &c. Do not suffer yourselves to be again enslaved, but firmly and constantly maintain your christian freedom.

2-4. Christ will profit, &c. If you submit to circumcision, and rest on this for pardon and acceptance, Christ will profit you nothing. In this case you reject him, and the doctrine of grace, while you become obliged to perform the whole law.

5. Look for the hope, &c. Through the influence of the Spirit, enlightening our minds, we look for the hope of righteousness, justification, and future life, only by faith, and by such a faith in Christ as works by love, knowing that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, without such a faith as this.

[ocr errors][merged small]

9. A little leaven, &c. Few seducers may corrupt a whole church. 1 Cor. v. 6.

10. Yet I have confidence, &c. I hope, through the assistance and grace of Christ, that you will renounce your errors, and cordially embrace the truth as I do.-His judgment, &c. Censure, excommunication, or bodily dis eases. 2 Cor. x. 6, 8.; xiii. 10, and 1 Cor. v. 4, 5.

11. Suffer persecution. From the Jews. In that case they would have no reason to be offended at me, as I should cease to preach salvation through a crucified Redeemer.

12. Cut off, &c. By the infliction of diseases, so that the body might perish, but the soul be saved. 1 Cor. v. 5.

13. Use not freedom, &c. So as to occasion disputes, quarrels, or even to prejudice weak Jewish brethren.- By love serve, &c. Though called to freedom, yet enter into the servitude of love, however cautiously you should avoid the servitude of the law.

14. The whole law. As far as it refers to our fellow-creatures; but if contrary to this, ye bite and devour one another, reflect on the consequence.

16. Walk by the Spirit. By the gospel, revealed by the Spirit, and agreeably to those spiritual principles which you have received.—And ful

[blocks in formation]

17 not the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desireth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye do not the things 18 which ye would. But if ye be led by the 19 Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, la20 sciviousness, Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, rivalries, wrath, disputes, divisions, 21 heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: concerning which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall 22 not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such things

REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER V. 1. We are admonished how dangerous it is, to abandon, in whole or in part, the great and fundamental doctrine of justification by grace, through faith in Christ. They who renounce and give up this, do in fact renounce and give up Christ, and must be ranked among unbelievers, whatever profession they may make. If we seek righteousness and life by the law, and foolishly imagine that we can attain them, we render the mediation, the obedience, sufferings and death of Christ, altogether useless and unnecessary. But how vain must be such an attempt! As transgressors we are already exposed to the righteous sentence of the law; and no future obedience can rationally be considered as an atonement for past offences. We must then adhere to a crucified Saviour, and confide in him for righteousness and strength, and account all those who would persuade us to confide in any thing else, as the enemies of the cross, and troublers of the church, by their pernicious errors. And let such reflect, that they deserve, and unless they repent, they will soon be cut off from the visible church of Christ, and receive their due reward.

2. We learn also that the christian life in this state is a warfare.

fil not, &c. Some mss. Vulgate, and Latin fathers, read in the imperative; but the future is often so used. See the Septuagint, Exod. xx. 1, &c.—Of the flesh. Of our depravity, called the old man, &c:

17. Desireth against, &c. Our depravity desireth what our spiritual principles, the new man, condemn; and this new man, the work of the Holy Spirit, and called Spirit, desireth what is opposite to the flesh, so that at seasons, from the influence of the flesh, ye do what ye wish not to do. See John iii. 6. Rom. vii. 19.

18. Led by the Spirit. In your general conduct, act conformably to your renovated and spiritual principle, for your encouragement I assure you that ye are not under the law, so as to be condemned for defects which you lament. See Rom. viii. 13, 14.

19-21. Works of the flesh. As many of the things, called "works of the flesh" consist in errors aud evil dispositions of the mind, it is manifest that by flesh is meant man's natural corruption and depravity.—Sorcery. The arts of incantation, by which the priests imposed on the people. Revel.xviii

and fruits of the Spirit.

there is no law. Now they that are Christ's 24 have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk 25 by the Spirit. Let us not be vain-glorious, 26 provoking one another, envying one another. CHAPTER VI.

A. D. 59. He chargeth them to deal kindly with an offending brother; to be liberal to their teachers, and to continue doing well; he glories in the cross of Christ.

BRETHREN, if a man be even discovered 1 in a fault, ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye 2 one another's burdens; and thus fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be 3 something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own 4 work; and then will he have glorying in

As they are in the flesh, so they feel its irregular desires; and how often are these their burden and grief? preventing them doing the things that they would. Yet as they are not under the law, but under grace, sin shall not have dominion over them; it may oppose and distress, but it shall not rule and reign. The saints do not live after the flesh, nor perform the works of the flesh, as they are here described. Those who practise such deeds, clearly prove that they are yet in the gall of bitterness and spiritual death; and unless changed and renewed, must perish for ever. Whatever may be the inward conflicts of believers, or their occasional failings, they all enjoy the Spirit, and in some degree exemplify the fruit of it. They sincerely love God, his only Son Jesus, and their neighbour; they have a holy joy in Christ, and through him peace of conscience, as well as live in peace. They bear with patience the trials of life, and cultivate the meekness, goodness, and gentleness of Christ. These fruits of the Spirit are the best evidence of their interest in him; and they show that the flesh, with its sinful passions and desires, is crucified. May these fruits abound in our souls; and then shall we experience much present, as well as future happiness.


Heresies. Opinions embraced through pride, and obtruded on others, in opposition to a man's own conviction, for the sake of worldly interest. Titus iii. 10, and 2 Pet. ii. 1.-Shall not inherit, &c. They can have no part in the kingdom of peace and righteousness here, or of glory hereafter.

22, 23. Fruit of the Spirit. Which arise from the influence of the Holy Spirit, and which exist in the renewed mind, some in one degree, and some in another; and only some of them in each person.Against such, &c. No law ever prohibited such dispositions and actions.

24-26. Have crucified. Such as are in reality Christ's, have already in a measure crucified, and are engaged by their own interest and profession, to be crucifying the flesh daily.If we live by, &c. Having been raised from a death in sin, let us walk in a spiritual and becoming manner, and not be vain-glorious, provoking, &c.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

CHAP. VI. 1—5. That are spiritual. Having and walking by the Spirit, restore such an one to a sense of duty, and a right conduct. Bear with each other's infirmities, considering what Christ has enjoined, and what

[blocks in formation]

5 himself alone, and not in another. For every || lest they should man shall bear his own burden.


Let him that is taught the word, communicate to him that teacheth in all good things. 7 Be not deceived; God is not to be deluded: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he 8 reap also. For he that soweth to his flesh, from the flesh shall reap destruction; but he that soweth to the Spirit from the Spirit shall 9 reap everlasting life. And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap, 10 if we faint not. As therefore we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men; but especially to those who are of the household of faith.



Ye see how large a letter I have written 12 unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, such would compel you to be circumcised, only

REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER VI. 1. We are taught that Christians of superior attainments should labour to recover such as have fallen into error or sin, with meekness, humility, and love. And what stronger motive can be urged, to induce them to do this, than to remind them of their frailty and infirmities, through which they are liable to similar faults. Though we are delivered from the yoke of the ceremonial law; yet we are under the moral as a rule of life, and as it is enforced and illustrated by the conduct and example of Christ. In admonishing, sympathising, and aiding one another, we are showing that love which the law requires. And how dreadfully are those deceived, who think themselves to be something, merely on account of the profession which they make, or of some particular opinion which they maintain, without in the least exercising a christian temper, and manifesting brotherly love! How anxious should we be not to deceive ourselves; but with the greatest impartiality examine ourselves, and see whether we be in the faith, that we may have the comfort and joy of it.

2. We are admonished to reflect on the great and solemn day of

reason each has to be humble.- -Prove his own, &c. By trying what he thinks, and what he does by the word of God, and then will he have glorying, not in having brought others to unite the law with the gospel, but in the proofs of his own state and safety. And every man should seek these, as he will have to bear his own burden at the last day.

6. To him that teacheth, &c. Considering that every labourer is worthy of his hire; and a wise, faithful teacher eminently so.

[ocr errors]

7-10. God is not to be, &c. By any fraud or hypocricy.--Soweth to the flesh. By aiming solely to attain carnal worldly gratifications, and neglecting the care and concerns of their salvation, shall reap destruction. See I Cor. iii. 17, and 2 Pet. ii. 12. -To the Spirit. Who pursue their spiritual interests, directed and assisted by the influence of the Spirit, shall reap, from this work of the Spirit, everlasting life. On this account let us not be weary, &c. and while doing good to all, let us particularly regard our christian brethreu, those who are indeed God's family.

11. With my own hand. He usually employed a scribe; but on this occasion he wrote with his own hand.

cross of Christ.

Glorying in the cross.

suffer persecution for the For neither do they them- 13 selves who are circumcised keep the law; but they desire to have they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But far be 14 it that I should glory, unless in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For 15 in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new . creature.

And as many as walk according 16 to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy; and upon the Israel of God. From hence, 17 forth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Breth- 18 ren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Unto the Galatians written from Rome.

judgment. What discoveries will be made on that day! It will then appear, that there is as certain a connexion between our conduet here and our state hereafter, as there is between the kind of grain sown and the harvest which it produceth. The multitude are sowing to the flesh, and altogether unmindful of their souls eternal welfare; and what can such reap but misery and destruction? Those are sowing to the flesh, who are seeking and preferring the favour and applause of men, rather than bear any reproach for the sake of a crucified Redeemer. But surely they are sowing to the Spirit, who are showing true christian love, and doing good to all; they who can and do glory in the cross of Christ, as the only ground of acceptance and salvation! Such indeed derive from him those views of the world, which mortify it to them, and teach them to seek for glory, honour, and immortality, at his glorious appearing and kingdom. They are indeed new creatures, and whether circumcised or uncircumcised, they are accepted, and shall be owned as the ransomed of the Lord in the great day. Let us esteem all such as christian brethren; and devoutly pray that the grace of Christ may be with their spirit. Amen.

12. Show in the flesh. As only aim to obtain honour and a number of followers, they would compel you to be circumcised, that they may avoid the offence of the cross.

13. Glory in your flesh. In having brought you to submit to circumcision, and being zealous for that law, which in fact they do not keep.

14. Should glory, &c. In any object of this kind; but in the cross of Christ I will glory, as on it he displayed the most amazing love and grace, and by the influence of which on my mind, I am crucified to all the unlawful pleasures and pursuits of the world.

15. A new creature. Being created unto good works. 1 Cor. vii. 19, Eph. ii. 10.; being wholly changed as to temper, views, and practices. 2 Cor. v. 17.

16. To this rule. As maintain the truth stated in the foregoing verse, and conduct themselves accordingly, peace be upon them, &c.

[merged small][ocr errors]

17. Trouble me. By charging me with adulterating the gospel. Ch. v. The marks of, &c. See note, Is. xliv. 5. Paul considers the marks of

the stripes, and scourgings, and stoning, showed that he too belonged to Christ.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THIS epistle was written when Paul was a prisoner at Rome; and the design of it was to establish the church at Ephesus in the doctrines which the apostle had before preached to them. It is very evident that some errors had been mixed with the truth; and that the apostle wished to guard and secure them from their pernicious influence. He displays the excellence and power of the gospel, as exhibiting the counsels of divine love, and as producing all the fruits of righteousness. The language is forcible, and indicates how much the apostle felt the subject.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

CHAP. I. 1. At Ephesus. The external authority for this reading is full and decisive; yet there is much internal evidence, that this is the epistle directed to the church at Laodicea, mentioned, Coloss. iv. 16. See Paley's Hora Paulinæ. Paul's epistles were certainly communicated by one church to another; and as Ephesus was a city of great note, v Ep:ow, might be introduced by some transcriber. Some think it was directed not only to the Ephesians, but to other christian brethren, to the faithful in Christ Jesus at Laodicea, &c.

3. In heavenly things. In things relating to heaven, and securing to us the enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance. John iii. 12.

4. Chosen us in him. As Paul directs his epistle to saints, and to the faithful, or believers, it is only of them that he now speaks, as chosen in Christ. Some confine this choice to the whole body of the Gentiles being called to become the disciples of Christ; but the apostle was addressing a church in which were many believing Jews, nor do the things said of those chosen a ree to the Gentiles in general.- -Might be holy, Ye. Not only separated from the world, but become really holy, as one end of his gracious choice. Hence it is evident that they were not chosen for their foreseen holiness, purity, and good works; as they were chosen as sinful, and with the gracious design of making them holy, pure, upright, and finally happy.

of sons to himself by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the 6 praise of his glorious grace, by which he hath made us accepted in his beloved: In whom 7. we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Which he hath made to abound 8 towards us in all wisdom and prudence; Hav- 9 ing made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself, In respect to the dis- 10 pensation of the fulness of times, that he would gather together all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; In 11 him, in whom we have obtained an inheritance also, having been predestinated according to

5. In love, having, &c. For this punctuation, see Griesb.-To the adoption, &c. If this adoption be to admit such into his own family, and treat them as his sons, his predestinating them to it was an instance of the freest love, solely arising from the good pleasure of his will.

6. Glorious grace. This is the end he had in view in the salvation of man. If man be sinful, and deserving of God's just displeasure, it is clear that he can claim nothing from God on the ground of merit ; but must be indebted to his free grace for every spiritual blessing.

7. Redemption by his blood. From the curse and the guilt of sin, so that we receive the forgiveness of sins freely and fully, and thus manifesting the riches of his grace.

8. Which he hath made, &c. See 2 Cor. ix. 8.- -In all wisdom, &c. In communicating "wisdom" in the knowledge of the gospel, and "prudence" in our conduct towards men.

9, 10. Mystery of his will. His purpose to call the Gentiles.In respect to the, &r. As to the dispensation of the gospel, introduced now, the times being fulfilled which he had appointed. Gal, iv. 4.- All things. Al persons; all intelligent beings. See John vi. 17, 19, where ra navra is used.

11. We have obtained, &c. We believing Jews do enjoy and inherit the promises made to Abraham, especially the adoption of sons, (verse 5,) to which

Their faith celebrated.


the purpose of him who worketh all things 12 after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, having 13 first hoped in Christ: In whom ye also having believed, (after ye heard the word of truth, the glad tidings of your salvation :) in whom, I say, ye also having believed, were sealed 14 with the promised Holy Spirit, (Which is the earnest of our inheritance) unto the full redemption of his purchased people, to the praise of his glory.

[blocks in formation]

REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1 We are taught to admire the freeness and riches of divine grace. And if we are the happy partakers of some of the blessings which are here adverted to, and a well-grounded hope that we shall in due time enjoy the rest, how is it possible that we should be unaffected, and unthankful. Though these things were so familiar to the mind of the apostle, he could not mention them, without breaking forth in the language of gratitude and praise, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c." What blessings are equal or comparable to these? Let us then like the holy apostle, bless God as the author and source of all we possess; and trace them backward to that gracious purpose, which he formed, when he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, when he predestinated us through him, to the adoption of children. And let us ever remember, that he did this freely of his own grace, according to the good pleasure of his will, and not according to any foreseen good


prays for them. eyes of your mind' being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his having called you, and what the glorious riches of his inheritance for the saints, And what is 19 the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, According to the working 20 of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and seated him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, 21 and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that also which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and 22 appointed him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the com- 23 pletion of him who filleth all the members with all things.

18. ▾ Griesb. Others, Understanding.

dispositions in us, or good works which we might perform. The only reason which we can assign for his choice of any sinners is, "Even so Father, because it seemed good in thy sight."

2. We are admonished also to admire the noble end God had in view in forming this holy and divine purpose. While he has abounded towards us in the freest love, he equally displays his wisdom, prudence, and holiness. He had in view the renovation and holiness of the objects of his choice; and in his own time and way he calls them by his grace, and makes them new creatures in Christ Jesus. He chose them, "that they might be holy and without blame before him ;" and hence he gives them to his beloved Son, who redeems them by his own precious blood, and in him they are accepted. Through faith in him they enjoy the forgiveness of sins; of sins however numerous and aggravated, and shall not perish, but have everlasting life. In this view then, we infer that it is only the person called to repentance, renewed

we have been predestinated.-Purpose of, &c. God's purpose is ever wise, as well as holy and just, being the counsel of his own will. However inscrutable to us may be the reasons of his counsel, we may be assured that they are such as in the view of his infinite understanding, wisdom, and perfect rectitude, as will support and justify his plans and proceedings.

13. Were sealed with, &c. See 2 Cor. i. 22, and notes. The Holy Spirit does not seal any now by miraculous gifts; but when, by his influence, we are instructed and sanctified, so as to love and serve God, we may be said to be sealed as his sons, for whom a glorious inheritance is provided.

14. Redemption of his, &c. As it is certain that zonos may be and

is applied to people (1 Pet. ii. 8,) and as it is generally so understood here, I have supplied to make the sense more obvious. Acts xx. 28, and 1 Tim. iii. 13. The meaning I consider to be, that they are sealed with the promised Spirit, unto the final deliverance from all evils, and unto the enjoyment of glory and happiness in heaven.

15. Having heard, &c. Since my preaching among you, how much your faith has increased, and your love to all the saints, &c. What a pleasure did he experience in hearing this good report.

17. And revelation, &c. So as to understand revealed truth delivered to you; especially what relates to the glorious Redeemer, and especially may understand the perfections and character of the true God, as opposed to the vain gods and goddesses, to which some of them had been devoted.

18. Of his having called, &c. I give the sense, with Wakefield and Newcome, rather than the idiom. What is the hope arising from his having called you by the gospel to be his people.—Of his inheritance, &c. See Deuter. xxxii. 9. Which he will finally distribute among them.

19-23. Of his power. In the miracles and operations, by which we were called to believe, and by which our faith is now established; which power resembles that exerted, when Christ was raised from the dead.—Far above all, &c. Whatever rank celestial beings enjoy, they have no name or honour like Jesus, whom the Father, on account of his suffering death, bas thus highly exalted. Which is the completion, &c. That the term has this sense, see Dr. Chandler and Parkhurst. Christ is mentioned as the head of the church; but he could not be a head without there was a body; and the body may be said to fill up, or make complete, this mystical persou.— Filleth all. All his members, with all their gifts and graces.

« PreviousContinue »