Galatians 1** The churches in Galatia were formed partly of converted Jews,and partly of Gentile converts, as was generally the case. St.Paul asserts his apostolic character and the doctrines hetaught, that he might confirm the Galatian churches in the faithof Christ, especially with respect to the important point ofjustification by faith alone. Thus the subject is mainly thesame as that which is discussed in the epistle to the Romans,that is, justification by faith alone. In this epistle, however,attention is particularly directed to the point, that men arejustified by faith without the works of the law of Moses. Of theimportance of the doctrines prominently set forth in thisepistle, Luther thus speaks: "We have to fear as the greatestand nearest danger, lest Satan take from us this doctrine offaith, and bring into the church again the doctrine of works andof men's traditions. Wherefore it is very necessary that thisdoctrine be kept in continual practice and public exercise, bothof reading and hearing. If this doctrine be lost, then is alsothe doctrine of truth, life and salvation, lost and gone." * The apostle Paul asserts his apostolic character against suchas lessened it. (1-5) He reproves the Galatians for revoltingfrom the gospel of Christ under the influence of evil teachers.(6-9) He proves the Divine authority of his doctrine andmission; and declares what he was before his conversion andcalling. (10-14) And how he proceeded after it. (15-24)1-5 St. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was expresslyappointed by him, consequently by God the Father, who is onewith him in respect of his Divine nature, and who appointedChrist as Mediator. Grace, includes God's good-will towards us,and his good work upon us; and peace, all that inward comfort,or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us. They comefrom God the Father, as the Fountain, through Jesus Christ. Butobserve, first grace, and then peace; there can be no true peacewithout grace. Christ gave himself for our sins, to makeatonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to thishe freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinitegreatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appearplainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by nomeans be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He thatconsiders these things well, understands that sin is a thing themost horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, andmake us afraid indeed. Especially mark well the words, "for oursins." For here our weak nature starts back, and would first bemade worthy by her own works. It would bring him that is whole,and not him that has need of a physician. Not only to redeem usfrom the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also torecover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we arenaturally enslaved. But it is in vain for those who are notdelivered from this present evil world by the sanctification ofthe Spirit, to expect that they are freed from its condemnationby the blood of Jesus. 6-9 Those who would establish any other way to heaven than whatthe gospel of Christ reveals, will find themselves wretchedlymistaken. The apostle presses upon the Galatians a due sense oftheir guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; yet hereproves with tenderness, and represents them as drawn into itby the arts of some that troubled them. In reproving others, weshould be faithful, and yet endeavour to restore them in thespirit of meekness. Some would set up the works of the law inthe place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corruptedChristianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, everyone who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospelsthan that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering toself-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, aredevices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the morallaw as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroytrue religion, we must also declare, that all dependence forjustification on good works, whether real or supposed, is asfatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for goodworks, let us be careful not to put them in the place ofChrist's righteousness, and not to advance any thing which maybetray others into so dreadful a delusion. 10-14 In preaching the gospel, the apostle sought to bringpersons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. But Paul wouldnot attempt to alter the doctrine of Christ, either to gaintheir favour, or to avoid their fury. In so important a matterwe must not fear the frowns of men, nor seek their favour, byusing words of men's wisdom. Concerning the manner wherein hereceived the gospel, he had it by revelation from Heaven. He wasnot led to Christianity, as many are, merely by education. 15-24 St. Paul was wonderfully brought to the knowledge andfaith of Christ. All who are savingly converted, are called bythe grace of God; their conversion is wrought by his power andgrace working in them. It will but little avail us to haveChrist revealed to us, if he is not also revealed in us. Heinstantly prepared to obey, without hesitating as to his worldlyinterest, credit, ease, or life itself. And what matter ofthanksgiving and joy is it to the churches of Christ, when theyhear of such instances to the praise of the glory of his grace,whether they have ever seen them or not! They glorify God forhis power and mercy in saving such persons, and for all theservice to his people and cause that is done, and may be furtherexpected from them.
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