Page images

mise of forgiveness annexed to them. But this went no further than exemption from present punishment, and could not exempt them from that death which passes upon all men. It gave no hope, not the least hint of a resurrection or future life. “It was impossible that the blood of bulls "and goats, or the sprinkling and washings “ directed there, could take away fin :” and so long as that continues, death, its inseparable attendant, must come along with it. So that they must either flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in the promise, or perish for ever.

But, may one fay, was not the promise, in being from the beginning of the world, on the faith of which the patriarchs before Abraham lived; and after it was renewed to Abraham, and the blessing lodged in his feed, was it not the same faith with that which was preached by Christ and his apostles; only with this difference, that before, faith was pitched on Christ to come in due time, and since, on the same Christ as already come? How then could the Apostle say, that the faith was to be revealed afterward? as if it ne


ver had been revealed before. All this is true; and yet what the Apostle says is very proper for expressing what he was laying before those for whom he wrote. The promise, the feed Christ, and the blessing, were all in being, and revealed and published to the world, and particularly to the Jewish nation ; but there was a vail or covering over them, see 2 Cor. xii. 13. - 18. like that which separated the most holy place in the tabernacle and temple, until it was rent at the death of Christ. The Apostle's word properly fignifies, removing the vail or covering which kept them from being fairly seen. But when God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, made the light of his glory to shine forth in the face of Jesus Christ, then the promise and the blessing, life and immortality, were set in a fair and open light, 2 Tim. i, 10. where the Apostle's word is not as our translators render it brought to light, but new light thrown on life and immortality, as is evidently done in the gospel; particularly in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the glory that followed.

When the end, then, which the law of Moses was designed for, came to be an


[ocr errors]

swered, and those who were under its direction and leading were brought to Christ, which the Apostle expresses by faith being come, there was no more need of the pedagogue, being now greatly better provided. I need not observe again, that when he speaks of faith's being come, he has not only the manifestation of Christ in the go

spel in his eye, but likewise the receiving - and believing it. It is obvious, that he

here changes his expression again ; and instead of we, which he had used until he had brought the Jews he speaks of to Christ, he makes use of ye, addressing himself to the whole churches of Galatia, made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles. He had joined them before as equally children of Abraham, and heirs of the promise. Now he tells them how they came to be so, and gives them another, and infinitely higher title, indeed the very highest a creature can possibly attain, re are all, both Jews and Gentiles, children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Though this translation is as exactly literal as can be, there is yet something of ambiguity in the expression which I think is not in the original. The doubt is, · Vol. III. Kk , whether

whether the words, in Christ, are to be joined with faith, which immediately precedes, or with being the children of God. On an overly view, it may be thought nearly the same sense which way we take it : for when the title of children of God is said to be by faith in Jesus Christ, Chrift is kept as much in his proper place as the testimony of God concerning him puts him in. But, if I am not mistaken, the Apostle designs something further; namely, to say, that their son hip was not so much by believing, as by the consequence and fruit of it, viz. their being in Christ. He says indeed very plainly, that they were the children of God by faith; but it was only in Christ that they were fo. . The phrase

Xpısw is never, so far as I remember, joined with 7150s, when believing in Christ is defigned; but tis or txi Xpisov.' And thus he explains it in the following verse, where he gives the reason of what he says in this, That as many as were baptized into Christ, as all believers on him were, had put on Christ; which certainly must import their union with him, by which they become Abraham's feed, and heirs of the promise.

This expression we find brought in by our Lord himself, John xv. 5. where, un


der the fimilitude of a vine, and the branches, he asserts a mutual in-being, believers in him, and he in them. And John xvii. 21. he carries it as high as it can go; by the Father's being in him, and he in them, they become one in them, and are as nearly united to God as a creature can be. He had set forth this oneness, John vi. 51. by the nearest union known among men, viz. that between the food, and the body which is nourished by it, setting forth himself as the true bread which came down from heaven; and which not only supports, but gives life where it was not, to all who receive it. Thence it became the common title of a believer, a man inz Chrift. The apostles, after him, pitch on the nearest and closest unions known among men, to illustrate the nearness and intimacy of this union, viz. the husband and wife, the head and the body; which all contribute something to give us some notion of what is indeed incomprehensible in our present state. This Apostle gives us the nearest, i Cor. vi. 16. 17. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit; and thence of course one life, one mind, the same sentiments and affections, and therefore Kk 2


« PreviousContinue »