Galatians 3* The Galatians reproved for departing from the great doctrineof justification alone, through faith in Christ. (1-5) Thisdoctrine established from the example of Abraham. (6-9) From thetenor of the law and the severity of its curse. (10-14) From thecovenant of promises, which the law could not disannul. (15-18)The law was a school master to lead them to Christ. (19-25)Under the gospel state true believers are all one in Christ.(26-29)1-5 Several things made the folly of the Galatian Christiansworse. They had the doctrine of the cross preached, and theLord's supper administered among them, in both which Christcrucified, and the nature of his sufferings, had been fully andclearly set forth. Had they been made partakers of the HolySpirit, by the ministration of the law, or on account of anyworks done by them in obedience thereto? Was it not by theirhearing and embracing the doctrine of faith in Christ alone forjustification? Which of these had God owned with tokens of hisfavour and acceptance? It was not by the first, but the last.And those must be very unwise, who suffer themselves to beturned away from the ministry and doctrine which have beenblessed to their spiritual advantage. Alas, that men should turnfrom the all-important doctrine of Christ crucified, to listento useless distinctions, mere moral preaching, or wild fancies!The god of this world, by various men and means, has blindedmen's eyes, lest they should learn to trust in a crucifiedSaviour. We may boldly demand where the fruits of the HolySpirit are most evidently brought forth? whether among those whopreach justification by the works of the law, or those whopreach the doctrine of faith? Assuredly among the latter. 6-14 The apostle proves the doctrine he had blamed theGalatians for rejecting; namely, that of justification by faithwithout the works of the law. This he does from the example ofAbraham, whose faith fastened upon the word and promise of God,and upon his believing he was owned and accepted of God as arighteous man. The Scripture is said to foresee, because theHoly Spirit that indited the Scripture did foresee. Throughfaith in the promise of God he was blessed; and it is only inthe same way that others obtain this privilege. Let us thenstudy the object, nature, and effects of Abraham's faith; forwho can in any other way escape the curse of the holy law? Thecurse is against all sinners, therefore against all men; for allhave sinned, and are become guilty before God: and if, astransgressors of the law, we are under its curse, it must bevain to look for justification by it. Those only are just orrighteous who are freed from death and wrath, and restored intoa state of life in the favour of God; and it is only throughfaith that persons become righteous. Thus we see thatjustification by faith is no new doctrine, but was taught in thechurch of God, long before the times of the gospel. It is, intruth, the only way wherein any sinners ever were, or can bejustified. Though deliverance is not to be expected from thelaw, there is a way open to escape the curse, and regain thefavour of God, namely, through faith in Christ. Christ redeemedus from the curse of the law; being made sin, or a sin-offering,for us, he was made a curse for us; not separated from God, butlaid for a time under the Divine punishment. The heavysufferings of the Son of God, more loudly warn sinners to fleefrom the wrath to come, than all the curses of the law; for howcan God spare any man who remains under sin, seeing that hespared not his own Son, when our sins were charged upon him? Yetat the same time, Christ, as from the cross, freely invitessinners to take refuge in him. 15-18 The covenant God made with Abraham, was not done away bythe giving the law to Moses. The covenant was made with Abrahamand his Seed. It is still in force; Christ abideth for ever inhis person, and his spiritual seed, who are his by faith. Bythis we learn the difference between the promises of the law andthose of the gospel. The promises of the law are made to theperson of every man; the promises of the gospel are first madeto Christ, then by him to those who are by faith ingrafted intoChrist. Rightly to divide the word of truth, a great differencemust be put between the promise and the law, as to the inwardaffections, and the whole practice of life. When the promise ismingled with the law, it is made nothing but the law. Let Christbe always before our eyes, as a sure argument for the defence offaith, against dependence on human righteousness. 19-22 If that promise was enough for salvation, wherefore thenserveth the law? The Israelites, though chosen to be God'speculiar people, were sinners as well as others. The law was notintended to discover a way of justification, different from thatmade known by the promise, but to lead men to see their need ofthe promise, by showing the sinfulness of sin, and to point toChrist, through whom alone they could be pardoned and justified.The promise was given by God himself; the law was given by theministry of angels, and the hand of a mediator, even Moses.Hence the law could not be designed to set aside the promise. Amediator, as the very term signifies, is a friend that comesbetween two parties, and is not to act merely with and for oneof them. The great design of the law was, that the promise byfaith of Jesus Christ, might be given to those that believe;that, being convinced of their guilt, and the insufficiency ofthe law to effect a righteousness for them, they might bepersuaded to believe on Christ, and so obtain the benefit of thepromise. And it is not possible that the holy, just, and goodlaw of God, the standard of duty to all, should be contrary tothe gospel of Christ. It tends every way to promote it. 23-25 The law did not teach a living, saving knowledge; but, byits rites and ceremonies, especially by its sacrifices, itpointed to Christ, that they might be justified by faith. Andthus it was, as the word properly signifies, a servant, to leadto Christ, as children are led to school by servants who havethe care of them, that they might be more fully taught by Himthe true way of justification and salvation, which is only byfaith in Christ. And the vastly greater advantage of the gospelstate is shown, under which we enjoy a clearer discovery ofDivine grace and mercy than the Jews of old. Most men continueshut up as in a dark dungeon, in love with their sins, beingblinded and lulled asleep by Satan, through wordly pleasures,interests, and pursuits. But the awakened sinner discovers hisdreadful condition. Then he feels that the mercy and grace ofGod form his only hope. And the terrors of the law are oftenused by the convincing Spirit, to show the sinner his need ofChrist, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, thathe may be justified by faith. Then the law, by the teaching ofthe Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and hisstandard for daily self-examination. In this use of it he learnsto depend more simply on the Saviour. 26-29 Real Christians enjoy great privileges under the gospel;and are no longer accounted servants, but sons; not now kept atsuch a distance, and under such restraints as the Jews were.Having accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, andrelying on him alone for justification and salvation, theybecome the sons of God. But no outward forms or profession cansecure these blessings; for if any man have not the Spirit ofChrist, he is none of his. In baptism we put on Christ; thereinwe profess to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, weare baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, sowe should die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness oflife. The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consistsnot in outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change.He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them.Therefore our care must be to do the duties that belong to us,and all other cares we must cast upon God. And our special caremust be for heaven; the things of this life are but trifles. Thecity of God in heaven, is the portion or child's part. Seek tobe sure of that above all things.
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