Page images

who they had some reason to think should have understood the way of salvation bet-. ter than themselves. As it was on these the blame lay, the Apostle does not spare them; but throughout the whole epistle, and particularly in the verses following, deals very roundly with them, and with such a severity, as nothing could warrant but the cause he had vindicated, and the Holy Spirit, which directed him.

There is some difference among translators about the 7th verse. Many who seem to understand the original language best, think our translation somewhat injurious to the Apostle, and not a just rendering of the words he uses. They think it is not right to make the Apostle say, that the new teaching was another gospel, and with the same breath, that it was not another; which can admit of no meaning, but that what he called another, was either the same, or was no gospel at all. This last is indeed in some sense true, but hardly consistent with the view the Apostle gives of it, and the truth of the case. They did not reject the truth of the gospel of Christ, but perverted it by a foreign mixture of such things as marred,

if not destroyed at once, the simplicity and beauty, the power and efficacy, of the truth as it is in Jesus. It is alledged further, that if the Apostle had designed to say what our translation does, he would have kept the same word in both pro- . positions as they do; but which, in the latter, he exchanges for another, of a very different fignification, and which is commonly used to different purposes. Upon the whole, they judge, that anao, in the 7th verse, relates not only to another gospel, but the whole of what he had said of their being removing into it, which he says is nothing else, but that there were some who troubled them, &c. .

The difference is of no great moment. What concerns us more is, to consider the account he gives of those new teachers they had got among them ; that they were troubling them, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. The words are too weak for conveying the emphasis of those the Apostle uses. The word rendered troubling strongly expresses the disturbance which these people made in the churches whereever they came; and which the bringing in of new doctrines, differing from the pel of Christ, will always do. The


least effect, which yet is no small evil,. is, disquieting the minds even of honeft Christians with doubts and difficulties, which they may be but ill able to overcome. When debates and disputes rise, parties are formed, Christian love greatly weakened, and party - zeal degenerates into something very near enmity and hatred; divisions and schisms become unavoidable, and the body of Christ is torn in pieces; and, which is worse, the members'tear and devour one another, as the Apostle expresses it, chap. v. 15.; and it is well if they do not destroy one another. The wise man's observation about strife and contention has been often fatally verified. “The be“ginning of it is like the breaking in of “ water;" so small a matter, that it seems hardly worth minding; but by degrees gathers such strength, as makes the damage it does absolutely irreparable.

What the Apostle adds, as the occasion of these disturbances in the Galatian churches, viz. that these false teachers would pervert the gospel of Christ, in the translation is much too faint. The word the Apostle uses, which our translators render would, strongly expresses a fixed determined state of the will; that


the unhappy men were so resolutely bent on what the Apostle calls perverting the gospel of Christ, that they exerted the utmost of their powers to accomplish what they so earnestly wished. A pitiful view this gives us of the weakness of human nature, with all the boasted powers some would persuade us it is invested with ; eafily drawn into mistake and error, and obstinately bigotted to the very worst of them; so that all the reason and authority in the universe cannot, not to say reclaim, but so much as moderate, their conduct.

And what was it these unhappy men were so heartily engaged in? Why, truly, what no man who knows what he is about, can so much as think of without horror, perverting the gospel of Christ. The Apostle's word is very significant. It is to change the gospel into something which it was not, until they took it into their hands. That is such a dreadful thing, that no man in his wits will attempt directly. But these feducers were not the only persons who persuaded themselves, and attempted to persuade others, that the gospel of Christ is not what he made it, but something else, which themselves

[ocr errors]

have invented, and called by that name. The different forms into which what they call the gospel has been modelled, are so numerous, that a list of them could hardly be made in one volume; some of them we meet with in the after part of this epistle,

That which the Apostle has here in his view, uniting the observation of the law of Moses with the faith of Christ, and making them both equally necessary, will be found the most plausible, and what most may be said in the defence of. And yet we find the Apostle boldly pronouncing a curse on the defenders of it. And left any should suspect that his zeal for what he knew certainly to be truth, had carried him too far verf. 8. he repeats it again vers. 9. The terms are strong, and need no commentary. The best that can be made would but weaken them. If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. As I said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other doctrine to you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed. And it is impossible to pitch upon any higher authority for such alterations,


« PreviousContinue »