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void persecution. And this gives us one plain sense of what he says of their having suffered so many things in vain, or to no purpose; which might easily have been avoided, by complying at first with the Jewish zealots. But he appears by what he adds, if it be yet in vain, to have had a higher aim. They had not yet thoroughly yielded to their seducers; they were in such suspense, that it was hard to say where they would rest. If they stood firm in their fubmission and obedience to the truth, their sufferings were not in vain: . they were suffering with Christ, and had the fairest, or rather the most afsured prospect, of reigning with him, 2 Tim. ii. 12. But if they complied, they renounced their obedience to the truth; and by having recourse to the law, they in effect renounced Christ, and the grace of God in him, as he tells them roundly afterwards ; and then their sufferings should be indeed in vain, and could answer no purpose at all. How skilfully, how gently, does he touch, and yet how foundly does he search the dangerous fore !
Having thus hinted what could not miss to engage their reflection on what they
were about, he proceeds in the argument, which the query, verf. 4. is so far from interrupting, that it considerably forwards the effect of it. They had received the
promise and gift of eternal life held forth * in the gospel; they had received the Spirit
of life, a good and valid earnest; and, by receiving this Spirit, they had received the very life of Christ, and were entered on living by him, and on that grace which is in him ; and all this by the bare hearing of faith, not only without any help from the law, but when they were absolute strangers to it. He now directs their attention to those who ministered the Spirit to them. He speaks indeed as of one person, thus to turn their eyes upon himself, by whose ministry they had first believed: but he speaks as in the present time, not ministered, but who ministereth the Spirit, so as to take in all who were employed in the fame work after him. One cannot pass this over without a reflection, What a solemn thing the work of the ministry is ! The gospel is the ministration of the Spirit; and the business of those that preach it is, to minister or convey the Spirit, the Spirit of God, and his blessed Son. If this be not done, nothing is done at all. And“ who is sufficient for these things ?” But however Paul and his associates, nay all who succeed them, may by preaching the gospel be said in an inferior sense to minister the Spirit; yet the Apostle's words very naturally point to a higher hand, viz. to him who has the fullness of the Spirit dwelling in him, and gives and with-holds it at pleasure; and it is honour enough to the greatest of the human kind to be employed under him. “ Paul may plant, and A“ pollos may water; but it is God who “ giveth the increase.” In the ordinary course both go together; but there is an immense difference between them. Ministers are co-workers with God, 2 Cor. vi. Į. but can do nothing without him;':' whereas he, when he pleases, can do e-. very thing without them. However we understand it, the conclusion strongly follows, that, by the order established by the great Sovereign, it is only by the word of the gospel, and hearing of faith, that the Spirit, with all his gifts, is conveyed to
any of mankind, whether Jew or Gentile. :. The same he says of miracles. These were the interposals of divine power, by
which God attested, and, as we fay, sealed the 'commission he gave to his ministers and fervants, whom he fent on special errands; and thus gave authority, and commanded respect, to the message they were sent to deliver. These were very frequent, and in a manner common, among Christians, while their faith was strong, and Christianity a new thing in the world. The principal and most extraordinary was, conferring the Holy Ghost by laying on the hands of the apostles, which appears to have been peculiar to the apostles, Acts viii. 14. et seqq. But the gifts of the Spirit were many and various; yet not at any one's choice or option, but as the holy Spirit divided them, according to his will. But as all these miracles and miraculous gifts were peculiar to believers in Christ, and all performed in his name, nor ever so much as attempted by any Jew,except once by the seven fons of Sceva, to their utter confusion, it was needless to draw the conclusion, the Galatians could not help doing it for themselves, viz. that when Christ answered every valuable purpose to those who received and believed on him, no deeds of law, or legal observances, could make any addition or improvement; and therefore it must be the height of folly to burden one's self with them. .
But however plausible this construction may seemn, and however well it may answer the Apostle's intention; yet there is another, which appears to suit both that and the context better, which has been adopted by the most judicious interpreters; and with this advantage, that it is the plain literal translation of the Apostle's original. Those who know any thing of that language, must know, that the word our translators render miracles, properly signifies mights, or powers; and what they render simply working, is seldom or never made use of, but to import, working inwardly, and commonly working effectually in one. And thus the words will run: “He that ministers or conveys to “ you the Spirit, and worketh effectually “ in you all those powers you find your“ selves, and observe others, endued “ with,” &c. All power of every kind is of God, the same who gives his Spirit in what measure and degree he pleases. The.