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th&t needful Bleffings -when we want them,: but 'never toM6' to give God Thanks for them, when we have them': HftetJie Hog in the Fable, who? greedily eat the Acorns, but hever Iook'd- Up to the Treer from whence they carney •tor^ these nine Lepers, that earnestly praytt ito be heal'd, but: when-that was done* never return d for give God-the Glory of it: letall such Ingratitode be &r from u&. •' -.iJ «:'. .Lastly, From God's bkffmg the thaiokful Leper, arid atcribing all to the Strength of his Faith,' let us learn to pray for those excellent Graces, which will keep us found here,and make us for ever happy hereafter.! i i tt. v-,r!i ,1
fought to brings them back to the antiquated Rites and Ceremonies of the Jewish Worship; i'
The Epistle begins with these words; Te see how largi & Lester I have written unto you with mine own Hand. The large Letter here intended, is this Epistle to the Galatians, wherein he enlarg'd himself on this point, to confirm them in the Principles of Christianity, which some endeavour'd to subvert, by* preaching up the perpetual Obligation of Moses's Law. And'tho other of his Epistles were written by an Amanuenfis, and only the Salutation with his own Hand, that they might be known to be his-, yet this he tells them was all written by himself with his own Hand, that they might give the greater heed to jr.
TheophylaB's Conjecture on this place is, that St. Paul was accus'd for preaching elsewhere for the Observation of the Old Law,- contrary to wh^f iCjcontain'd in this Epistle, and therefore was forc'd to write a large Letter with his own Hand^/or hw own Vindication in this matter. This Conjecture, 1 fay,'is wholly precarious and without ground; for we find no where any mention of such an Accufation* and therefore there could be no need of any such Vindication. But the Conjecture of some is. yet more vain, vud that St. Paul in . these words endeavour'd to excuse the Badness of his Writing, the Largeness of the Letters, or Illness of the Characters used in it 1, that whereas his other Epistles, written by an Amanuensis^ were in a fairer and better Hand, this of his own writing was more rough and unpolisiVd. But this was too mean a matter for the Consideration of an Apostle, whom we cannot suppose to have condescended to so trisling art Apology. In short thefi,
The plain Sense of these words is, that the Apostle being inform o of some false Teachers crept into the Churches of Galatidy who preach'd up Circumcision, and other Molaical Rites, he wrote this large Letter or Epistle with his own Hand, to warn them against them, and to prevent their being seduc'd by them. To which end, he proceeds in the next words to describe these false Teachers,
ist, By their plausible Behaviour, or making a sair Shew in the Flesh. ._''.
2dly. By the Badness of their Doctrine - , They constrain you to be circumcis'd.
idly, By their evil End and Design, which was to avoid Persecution for the Gross of Christ. . .v..j,» .
.-. ' ...... i . a ., .. x . .. . . . ,..}; J .. .
tfi, For the Plausibleness of their Behaviour, 'tis ex< f>ress'd in these words; As many as desire to make a sair Shew in the Flesh. 'Tis the Guise and Practice of false Teachers, to put fair, tho false Colours upon what they fay or do; to make use of Disguises, to hide the Evil and Mischief they intend, and to make the fairest Show and Appearance they can. Our Saviour tells us, that the salse Prophets came in Sheeps-Clothing; that is, with soft and smooth Pretences, tho inwardly they were ravenous Wolves, that came not but to devour and destroy. The Apostle tells us of others, that with good Words and sair Speeches deceive the Hearts of the Simple. Of all such we are hid to beware, as those that come with all the Deceivablenefs of Unrighteousness, able if it were possible to deceive the very Elcft. Of this kind were the false Teachers in this Chapter, who defir'd to make a fair Show in the Flesh, that is, would be thought the most zealous and conscientious of all the Jews. And such are the Dissenting False Teachers in our days, who by feign'd Shews of Zeal and Reformation, delude the Ignorant into Schism and Sedition. Of all such we cannot be too cautious, by giving no heed to their Words, and shunning their Ways and their Example. But to the Plausibleness of their Behaviour, the Apostle adds,
7.dly, The Unsoundneft of their Doctrine, in these words -, They constrain you to be circumcis'd: meaning, that they urg'd upon these Galatians the Necessity of Circumcision, tho that painful Rite was done away, and exchang'd for the easier Rite of Baptism by our Blessed Saviour: yet to make the fairer Shew in the Flesh, they press them to take this Mark of Circumcision in their Flesh, being the Seal of the Covenant made to Abraham and his Seed. For this they urg'd the Institution of God himself, who laid this Ordinance of Circumcision in charge on Abraham and his Posterity for ever, Gen. 17. For which reason they pretended it to carry an eternal Obligation, being call'd therefore the Covenant of Circumcision, Acts 7. 8. This shak'd the Faith of many, and begat that first and great Controversy in the Christian Church, about the Continuance of the Rites and Ceremonies of Moses's Law which our Apostle, in this and sundry other of his Epistles, hath fully decided for us, having by many Arguments prov'd and determin'd for the Abrogation of them: for Christ the Substance being come, in whom all those typical Rites and Shadows were fulfill'd, they all vanish'd and were
Vol. IV. Part 1. Z disdispell'd by the Brightness of his Coming, as Mists and Vapors are scatter'd by the Approach of the Sun^ So that to continue those Rites, is a virtual Denial of Christ's coming in the Flesh : and therefore St. Paul testifies and declares unto them, that if ye be circumcis'd, Christ can profit you nothing; Gal.5. 2. And ver. 3. / testify again (faith he) to every Man that is circumcis'd, that he is a Debtor to hep the whole Law; and so can have no Justification thence. Christ is become of no effect to them, being fallen from the Grace and Favour of the Gospel. The sense of all Which is, that by sticking to the old Covenant of Circumcision, they deprive themselves of all the benefit of the new Covenant, into which we are now initiated by Baptism.
But, idly, why did these Teachers, who were in a great measure brought over to Christianity, so far comply with the Jews, as to preach and press Circumcision on the Gentile Converts? Why that, the Apostle tells us, was only lest they fljould suffer Persecution for the Cross of Christ:. There was at that time a great Persecution rais'd against the Christians: the Jews, out of their great Zeal to the old Law, would not hear of a new Gospel; the Doctrine of Christ crucify d was to the Jews a Stumbling-block, and to the Greeks Foolistmefs : which made them persecute this Way even to the Death. Hence some for fear of Punishment, and others for the reproach of the Cross, revolted from Christianity, and fell back to the old Law : and we are told of these in our Text, that they adher'd to Circumcision merely to avoid Persecution. Twas not any conscientious Persuasion of the Obligation of the Law, that mov'd them thus to keep to it: for the next Verse tells us, that they themselves that are circumcis'd., do not keep the Law in other matters; yea, sometimes can dispense with that too, when it may be done with safety. But they desire to have you circumcis'd (faith he) only that they may glory in your Flesh; meaning, that the true Reason of all this was their own Advantage, and their own Glory; partly to avoid the Fury and Trouble, of the Jewish Zealots, and partly that they might be able to boast of the many Proselytes they had made to the Judaical Law. This is that sair Shew in the Flesti, mention'd before, and their glorying in your Flesh, mention'd here; both which signify, their getting some Glory and Interest to themselves, by having you circumcis'd.
But But these Metis seeking tor Glory by such sinister and indirect ways, and shrinking from the Doctrine of the Cross for fear of Persecution, made St. Paul let them know, that all true Glory lies in other things ; namely, in a firm Constancy of Mind, and a steddy Adherence to the Doctrine of Christ against all Opposition: And therefore he speaks in his own Name in tire following Verses faying, God forbid that Ishould glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus, by whom the World is crucify d to me, and I unto the World. That is, all Glorying in the Flesh is vain, and all Boasting of worldly Wealth and Honour is fruitless and insignificant; such idle Vaunts and Vain-glorying- as this, proceed only from the fond Suggestions and Compliances of false Teachers, who make merchandize of you : but God forbid (faith the Apostle) that I should ever make use of these or any other like Arts to beguile you, or to draw Disciples into such pernicious Errors and Delusions. The only true matter of Boasting is in the Cross of Christ, which they would make you either afraid or asham'd of. For my own part (faith he) I know nothing worthy to be glory'd of or rejoic'd in, save that only: and accordingly air my Joy and Rejoicing is in my Constancy to my Saviour, and the Sufferings I have undergone for his fake ., which have made the Pleasures, Honours, and Riches of the World altogether lifeless and uhtempting to me, and likewise me as dead and mortify'd to any inordinate Love or Desire of them. Hence we find him declaring to the Romans, that he was not ajbam'd of the Gospel of Christ, which ts the Power of God 'unto Salvation, to every one that believeth; Rom. 1; 16. Whatever mean Thoughts others might have of it, or whatever Reflections they might cast upon it, he was so far from being asham'd, that he made it the Object of his greatest Glory and Rejoicing, knowing it to be the only Way and Means of obtaining Life and Salvation;
Again, He told the Corinthians, that he determin'd to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and him crucify d; i Cor. 2. 2. And to the Philippics he affirm'd* that he counted all other Knowledg but as Loss and Dung, in comparison of the Excellency of the Knowledg of Christ, for whom he had suffer'd the Loss of all, and counted it as nothing, that he might win Christ ^ Phil. 3.8. He had been before mentioning the Privileges of Circumcision, in which he could pretend as great a share as any : for he was circumcis'd the eighth Dayt according to the Law given to Abraham $ he
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