Galatians 6
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The walk in the Spirit, which eschews vain-glory and envy, further manifests itself in consideration for the erring. The sins of others become our concern, and we anxiously seek how we can best have them restored. Here, then, is a burden which Christians have not undertaken as earnestly and sympathetically as they ought to have done; it is the burden of sin which weighs on other people's hearts.

I. THE PREPARATION FOR DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S SINS. (Vers. 1-3) The idea of Paul here is that the Pharisaic temper is utterly incapable of the restoration of the erring. Thinking himself to be something, not realizing that he is in God's sight nothing, the Pharisee deceives himself, and so cannot become the guide of others. He will be severe through his self-satisfaction, hard and unsympathetic because he is ignorant of his own need and cannot consequently know the needs of others. His pride makes sympathy for the abased impossible, and he passes on in utter uselessness. But when the Lord makes us meek, when the Lord impresses upon us the fact of our own liability to temptation, when the Lord leads us to the sifting of our own work, and to a higher standard than mere comparison of it with that of others, when, in a word, we are led out of Pharisaic thankfulness that we are not as other men into Christian humility and self-abasement, - then are we in some measure fitted to take up the problem of other people's trespasses and to solve it. It is the "spiritual" who are to undertake the delicate work.

II. THE LAW OF CHRIST IS TO BE OUR METHOD. (Ver. 2.) Now, when we consider broadly the work of Christ, we find that it resolves itself exactly into this work of restoring the erring. This was the purpose of his life and death, to bear other people's burdens - the burdens of sin. Of course, Christ could deal with sin in a more radical way than we can. He was sinless; he was Divine; he could accept of the responsibilities of human sins and atone for them, as we cannot do. But we can surely have fellowship with him in concern about other people's spiritual state; we can sympathize with them, and perhaps encourage them to make us their confidantes, so that we may do something for their relief. We can also keep their restoration steady as a star before us, and follow the Master in leading them to renewed hope. In all these ways we may follow the law of Christ in dealing with delinquent brethren. The fact is that, because we cannot share in Christ's atoning work, we are tempted often to let sin lie outside our deliberate philanthropy. We are willing enough, perhaps, to help a fellow out of the burden of poverty, of outward misfortune; but to help him as a spiritual counsellor seems beyond our province. And yet we are not surely very thorough in our philanthropy if we do not try to touch and remove the deeper burden of heart-trouble by leading the erring to our elder Brothel'.

III. THERE WILL BE JOY AS WELL AS DISAPPOINTMENT UPON THIS PATH OF CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY. The heavenly world gets more joy out of the penitent prodigals than out of the unfallen beings (Luke 15:1-10). It is the same with us in our humble efforts after restoring erring brethren. What a joy it is to think that he has repented and got unburdened and restored! There is no joy of exactly the same pure intensity in all the world. There is music and dancing in our hearts as in the great Father's house. Earth and heaven are one (Luke 15:25). There will be a measure of disappointment. Souls over whom we have sighed and wept, for whose salvation we have longed, may disappoint us sadly; but we can assure ourselves that in this respect also we are in fellowship with God. Every impenitent soul must be a disappointment to the Supreme! We leave the mystery at his holy feet, and, notwithstanding disappointment, resolve in dependence on him to work bravely on until our day is done, persuaded that our tale of souls relieved shall be longer in the end than we have dared to dream. - R.M.E.


1. It is our duty to restore him. "Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." This subject arises out of the warning against vain-glory at the close of the last chapter. When a vain-glorious spirit possesses a society, some provoke as superiors, and others are filled with envy as inferiors. Vainglory is usually connected with such external things as rank and wealth. The apostle here supposes it carried beyond these, carried even (that seems to be the force of the word) into the inner sphere of character. He supposes some one connected with the society (presumably the Christian society) falling into sin. He describes him as overtaken in some trespass. The language defines without excusing. It indicates that the trespass was solitary or occasional, and not habitual. If it had been habitual, then he was not entitled to a place in the society, and the proper course toward him would have been excommunication. But the trespass was not to be regarded as a fair representation of his character as a whole. He was overtaken in it, before he rightly considered what he was doing. That by no means relieved him from blame. It showed a want of steadiness in his Christian course. It showed a want of reliance on the Divine supports. It showed carelessness in the use of appointed means. It could be said to him, "Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?" In such a case, then, how was he to be dealt with by the spiritual, i.e. not those who remained true to Paul and his doctrine, nor those who were strong, but those who, according to the Christian idea, desired to be led by the Spirit, to express the mind of the Spirit, i.e. in the specified circumstances. It is the teaching of the apostle that we are to restore a fallen brother. It is to be our object that he should be brought to a right state of mind. That he should trespass and not be sorry for it would be neither for his good nor for the good of the society. A fallen brother having evinced sorrow, we are to receive him back into the place which he formerly occupied, even as we believe that Christ, from his treatment of sinners when on earth, receives him back. We are to restore him in the spirit of meekness, i.e. in the spirit which, while characterized by faithfulness, is chiefly characterized by meekness. There is to be the absence of self-exaltation. We are not to triumph over a brother, as though his fall added to our importance. There is to be the absence of that harshness which accompanies self-exaltation. We are not to wish to give him a sense of his inferiority to us in respect of his fall, nor are we to wish that he should be filled with sorrow or kept back in any way more than the ends of holiness require. We are not to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax. The ground on which we are to restore him is of the strongest nature, and, to bring it home with more power, there is a singling out of the reader, "Looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Thou art to look to thyself as not beyond trial. Thou art to look to thyself as having elements of weakness in thy flesh; and therefore liable to be tempted, and, when tempted, to fall. Nay, thou art to think of thyself as having in the past been tempted and having fallen before temptation. It has been said that, when looking on an offending brother, we may reflect with ourselves - We either are, or have been, or may be all that he is. If we have not sinned in the same form, yet have we sinned in a form which may be as heinous before God. We are to regard the fall of a brother only as a call to self-humiliation and tender dealing.

2. This is to fulfil the law of Christ. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Mutual dependence is a law of the universe. As the philosophic poet has it, "All are but parts of one stupendous whole.' Nothing stands alone; each depends on all. Look at the innumerable worlds that inhabit space. God might have held each world in its place separately and out of relation to every other world. But he has chosen to hold all worlds together as a universe, or one vast world, by a law according to which all worlds and all particles of matter also attract one another in a certain proportion to mass and distance. The material world is one vast inter-dependency, so finely balanced that a modification of a part would necessarily be the modification of the whole; while the aberration of a large mass might be the destruction of the whole. The apostle points out the same thing in the human body. "The eye cannot say unto the head, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." As in the human body, so it is in human society. The greatest happiness of individuals is not to be attained by each being his own servant, but by there being division of labour and each being as much as possible the servant of all. The greatest happiness of nations is not to be attained by each keeping within its own resources; but by each developing its own resources to the utmost, and exchanging them for those of other nations. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that Christ, in founding a society, lays down this law of dependence for its regulation. Indeed, he has to enact no new law, but only to give a higher sanction and application to an existing law. He finds men already dependent on one another, all the more by the entrance of sin, and he takes advantage of this for the training of his people. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is implied that there are certain burdens which one Christian can bear for another, and which that other can bear for him, and which can in this way be lightened for them both.

(1) Burden of want. We mean the burden of poverty which is commonly called want, being most palpably, though not most really, so. For we have all to be supplied with our daily bread, and, while some are rich or comparatively rich, i.e. to say, have more than they need, others are poor or comparatively poor, i.e. to say, have less than they need. God might have ordained all to be rich and none to be poor in the Church. But he has, on the contrary, ordained some to be rich and others to be poor, i.e. to say, he has made a dependence of the poor on the rich. "The poor," says the Lawgiver here, "ye have always with you." And we look forward to no golden era of science when there shall be no poor in our Churches. Certain it is that many are poor by circumstances over which they have had no control. And, while trade is not conducted on thoroughly Christian principles, which it will never be while there is sin and selfishness in the heart of man, there will always be circumstances bearing hard on some of our Church members. Now, we are to consider the care of the Christian poor. Having little coming in and perhaps many mouths to fill, they have a real burden on their minds, a burden which we would not choose to bear for ourselves. And the law of Christ is that we are to bear this burden for our fellow-members, those of us who are in a position to do it - bear it as we would have them to do it for us in like circumstances. Why are we not in their position and they not in ours? why have we more than enough and the less than enough? is it not of favour, and of favour that we may minister to their necessity? And we should minister to their necessity were it only for our own good, to counteract that greed which is apt to grow insidiously upon men who are prospering. And for this reason it were, perhaps, to be wished that there were more poor in some of our Churches, that there might be a greater flow of Christian charity. We are to bear this burden for them, as those who have the same heavenly bread to eat of. A little sacrifice on our part may do much to lighten their burdens and cheer their hearts. And we should be quick to know where we can do good in this way. If there are not always those who are in clamant need, there are always those whose struggle for subsistence might well be made easier, whose difficulties might well be made fewer, and whose comforts might well be added to. As to the way in which we are to do it, we are to do it with discrimination, as good stewards of what we have been entrusted with for others. We are to do it as though it were a luxury to ourselves, and not as though we were conferring an obligation. We may do it secretly when it is no object to manifest personal kindness. We are always to do it with reverence. For, if there is anything in our bearing calculated to destroy the self-respect of the recipient, when he is taken at a disadvantage, then we may be removing one burden, but we are at the same time laying another upon him which it will be more difficult for him to bear. When we give help to any one we should be very studious to make him feel that he is our equal in being a man, and, in the case before us, a Christian.

(2) Burden of affliction. We mean the burden of sickness or bereavement. For we are all mortal. "Death has set his mark and seal" on our bodies. We are all liable to sickness and decay. And, when we come within the precincts of the Church, we do not leave our ills behind us. But here, of this one and of that one it is said, "He is sick." Now, we are to consider the case of the afflicted members of the Church. They have a burden to bear. When of those beloved one after another is laid in the grave, the burden of mortality presses heavily enough upon them. "What could be heavier?" they seem to say through their tears. When, by a succession of premonitory symptoms, they are made aware that their own health is failing, the burden seems to press yet more heavily. It is something more to feel for themselves as if life were slipping out of their grasp. When, at last, they are prostrated upon the bed of sickness and are withdrawn, perhaps for ever, from the wonted scene, from the sanctuary, from the sphere of usefulness, the burden seems to be weighted as with lead, and there is a multitude of thoughts within them. Now, Christ has appointed for such; and his law laid upon fellow-members is, "Bear ye this burden for them." We are to bear this burden for them; for we may yet be in their case, and we should like the same office to be performed for us. We are to bear this burden for them; for so closely are we related to them, that it is as though part of ourselves were suffering. If we have a fine spiritual organism, then, what a fellow-Christian suffers will, as it were, vibrate through us. We are to bear this burden in the way of sympathy. We may show our sympathy by a visit to the sick-bed, by a kind inquiry, by a kind office, by a kind expression, by a kind look. We are to be studious to show that we are not wholly taken up with ourselves, but have a place and a tender feeling for them. For, oh, when life is ebbing, it is hard to think that they are forsaken; while it is cheering to think that there are around them messengers of Christ, each, as it were, conveying to them a portion of the Master's sympathy. It is a great accomplishment to be able to administer consolation.

"The noblest art
Is his, who skills of comfort best;
Whom by the softest step and gentlest tone
Enfeebled spirits own,
And love to raise the languid eye,
When like an angel's wing, they feel him fleeting by;
Feel only, for in silence gently gliding
Fain would he shun both ear and sight." We should cultivate this Divine art, that we may become proficients in it. We should seek each to be a Barnabas, a son of consolation, especially to the Lord's afflicted ones. It is a fine spectacle to see a pilgrim bearing the burden of a fellow-pilgrim who may be nearing his journey's end. May the Lord, by his grace, break our hearts, so that we shall feel, as with his own fineness of feeling, for every sick Lazarus in our midst!

(3) Burden of spiritual need. We mean the burden connected with our living the Christian life. For we have all our spiritual difficulties. We find it hard, with our natural weakness, to live up to the Christian standard. As Christians, we all need encouragement. Now, the ordinance of Christ is that we are to bear this burden for one another. We are to assist one another against the evil of our hearts, against the temptations of life. For this purpose we are constituted into a society, and not left each to live the Christian life apart by ourselves. As members of the same Christian society, we are to be interested not least in one another's highest welfare. It is very encore aging to think that there are persons interested in us as spiritual beings, who have passed through similar experiences themselves, and who are, therefore, anxious to do us all the good that lies in their power. While very sad must it be to be possessed with such a thought as that which possessed the psalmist - we have all felt a little of it in certain moods - "I looked on my right hand and beheld, but there was no one that would know me, refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul." The burden to which we are specially referred in the context is the burden of trespass with which a brother is weighted. Of all burdens, the only intolerable burden is sin. Far more than the burden which a fellowman may lay upon us, or than what God may see fit to lay upon us, is what we lay upon ourselves when we incur guilt. Of all positions in which human beings may be placed, the worst is that of impenitence, of insensibility to sin. Next to that is when we have been awakened and have afterward been overtaken in a trespass. When there is want of sensibility as to the evil of what we have done, that is an aggravating circumstance. Now, we are to feel burdened with the burden of our brother's trespass. We are to feel vexed and saddened that he has fallen, even as though we had fallen ourselves. We are not to feel for him as though he had been simply unfortunate, but we are to feel for him as placed in the grievous position of having sinned against God. Our sympathy is not to amount to tolerating sin in him. Neither can it avail to relieve him from his guilt. But it may avail to increase his sensibility to sin, and to encourage the desire in him to be delivered from his awful position. The apostle's teaching, in keeping with Galatians 5:14, is that the bearing of one another's burdens gives completeness to our filling up of the Law.


1. The root of the evil. "For if a man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." It is true that he who triumphs over a brother in his fall injures him, by discouraging him from coming back to the paths of rectitude. But the apostle goes to the root of the matter when he says that he practises deception on himself. He thinks himself to be something when he is nothing. That is true of the vain-glorious man. That in respect of which he raises himself above his neighbour is unreal, or he is in the way of making it unreal by the spirit in which he regards it. And thus in the false importance he attaches to himself he is prevented from being sympathetic, He does not bear his neighbour's burden, because he does not feel his own.

2. Corrective. "But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbour." Let him apply the proper tests. Let him not compare himself, especially with one with whom he thinks he can compare favourably. But let him compare himself with the Bible standard. Let him compare himself with the example of Christ. Let him apply the test of humility, "God resisteth the proud, but he giveth grace to the humble." Let him apply the test of brotherly love, "We know that we have passed from death into life, because we love the brethren." The result of this self-examination will be to bring us to reality. If we have the root of the matter in us, then we shall be able to discover the working of Divine grace in us. And if there is also evil discovered, then that, being reason for our being humbled before God, will lead to ore' having more reality. And then, through self-examination, shall we have matter for glorying in regard of ourselves alone, and not of our neighbour.

3. Reason for self-examination. "For each man shall bear his own burden." It was said in the second verse, "Bear ye one another's burdens." Here it is added, with sufficient nearness to be paradoxical, "For each man shall bear his own burden." The first representation was that of standing beside a brother, holding up his burden for him. The representation here is that of each man standing solitarily by himself, bearing his own burden. Strong but not very conclusive assertions are made that this is not the burden of responsibility. The burden to which reference was made at the beginning of the paragraph was the burden of trespass. This we are to share with a brother. Then comes in the thought of such self-deception as prevents us sharing it sympathetically with him. Following upon that is an exhortation to apply proper tests to our conduct as a whole, the result being that, if we have the root of the matter in us, we shall have matter for glorying in regard of ourselves alone, and not in regard of our neighbour. And then the apostle seems to add that we have immediately to stand before God, each with his own burden. It is true that the burden includes the burden of trespasses. And it is true that the fact that we have trespasses should make us sympathetic. But that which weights the burden of our conduct as a whole, and which should make us tender to each other, is that we have immediately to render our account to God. The thought then is - We are to feel for our brother, who in his trespass has a heavy and incommunicable load of responsibility; for in our own trespasses we have a load of responsibility that is heavy and incommunicable too.

(1) It is a burden which cannot be refused or laid down at pleasure. By a mere wish we cannot be irresponsible. We are, in this respect, as clay in the hands of the potter. We have not the choice of our own existence or of our non-existence. All that pertains to our coming into existence, and to our constitution, has been ordained by a sovereign God, who for good and wise ends has made us, and has made us responsible. Now, what does God require of us? It is, in New Testament language, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Apart from the graciousness of this, there is its imperativeness. We have not been consulted as to the making of this command; but it has been imposed in virtue of God's sovereign prerogative to lay commands on us. Is there any question as to the desirability of salvation? It is enough that God wishes to see us saved. Is there any objection to the particular way of being saved? It is enough to say that this is God's way. Having appointed it, there is no question of preference, but simply of obedience. Is there any discretion as to time? ]t is said, "Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." If God says now, then it is at our peril if we delay for an hour. It is well to have the command laid upon us in all its imperativeness, that we may feel driven, as by weight of authority, to Christ for salvation. There is responsibility connected with our whole life. We have not really the disposal of anything, apart from God's way of disposing of it. God's will must rule our disposal of our time, of our talents, of our property.

(2) It is a burden which we cannot devolve upon another. This is its incommunicableness, which weights it so much. We must act for ourselves in the matter of our salvation. If we wait until others save us we shall never be saved at all. They may give us their sympathy, and by their prayers and appeals influence us; but they cannot act in our soul's stead, and accept of Christ for us. Why have we been so nobly gifted? Is it not that we may act for ourselves, and not need to hold on to another? We are to act out our convictions of what is right, as those that will have to stand before the judgment-seat and give an account of all our acts. And surely we can never see our way as responsible beings to reject salvation. It will be found that all among whom our lot is cast will not be on the side of our best interests. There will be some who would lead us to ruin, as though our souls were only to be played with. But if others choose to go to ruin, that is no reason why we should go with them. And yet it is to be feared that many ruin their souls merely to please or not to displease their friend. But no one can be excused for this. For what is that but thinking more of our friend than el God? It is at our peril if we can be influenced by a fellow-man when he asks us to sin, and not be influenced by God when he asks us to be saved. If those who seek to lead us away could take our responsibility and relieve us from the consequences of our acts, then we might have some inducement to go with them. But that is what none of them can do, be he ever so great. "Wherefore should I fear [i.e. to say, slavishly] when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth [i.e. there is a time when it ceaseth] for ever), that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption." If no one, however great, can do this, then we must act for ourselves and refuse to be influenced for evil. Oh that men, when asked to take a wrong step, would only consider before God how they are alone as responsible beings, standing or falling by themselves ]

(3) It is a burden which we are always free to bear. We mean all who have the use of reason. We can never be forced to sin. If we could be forced, then sin would be no more sin. We sometimes hear of one being a martyr to circumstances. That is not altogether true. What God requires of us varies, indeed, according to circumstances. And there are those who have been placed under great disadvantages compared with others. But, however badly placed we have been, we cannot say that we have been necessitated to refuse salvation. With the offer of Christ in the gospel we have the power of rising above circumstances. Whatever the difficulties in our way, let Christ be glorified in our triumphing over them. At the last day it will be no valid excuse that our difficulties were great. The testing question will be - Could we have surmounted them? did we ever sincerely try to surmount them? If Christ shall ask if we tried his strength, what shall we be able to answer? Let us not lay the blame upon circumstances; let us lay the blame on our own evil hearts.

(4) It is a burden which may be borne lightly or irksomely. One bears the burden of daily toil with alight cheerful heart; another with a heavy heart. So is it with the burden of responsibility. We have reason to thank God that it can be borne lightly. Christ took over our heavy responsibilities. That was, not each bearing his own burden, but One bearing the burden of all. He has taken the weight of guilt out of our burden, and by his grace he can make us move freely in the groove of his purpose. There is resting upon every square inch of our bodies a weight of atmosphere equal to fifteen pounds; and yet it does not oppress us. We move freely under all that weight; we never think of it being there. With as little feeling of oppression do we bear, in Christ, the burden of our responsibilty. But if we stand out of relation to Christ, then it is as though we had two or three atmospheres upon us which would crush us. - R.F.

In all the writings of St. Paul there is no more Christ-like utterance than this. It breathes the very spirit of him who came to seek and to save the lost. It seems to be addressed in particular to the more spiritual members of the Galatian Churches - to those who had not been carried away in the tide of fashionable Judaizing. There was a danger lest the severe rebuke administered by the apostle to their erroneous brethren should provoke a vain and censorious spirit in these men. St. Paul warns them of that danger (Galatians 5:26), and points out the right course that is open to them. Instead of judging they were to help to restore the fallen in all gentleness and humility.

I. THE DUTY OF RESTORING THE ERRING. Too often they are harshly judged, condemned, despised, crushed, so that if they are strong they are confirmed in their errors by pride and motives of sheer self-defence, and if they are weak they become reckless and despairing and a ready prey for greater evils. The censorious will have to answer for the terrible responsibility of confirming guilt and checking repentance. In no case is it ours to judge. But to brand and ostracize the guilty is to incur the heavy guilt of those who make others to sin. How different would the history of the Church have been if, instead of the controversy which aims only at silencing opponents, there had been the counsel that seeks at restoring brethren! But it is important to see that there should be no aim short of restoring the erring. That is a false charity which ignores sins in others. They must be faithfully pointed out and earnestly opposed. The great end must not be mere punishment nor easy indifference, but restoration.

II. THE PERSONS CHARGED WITH THIS DUTY. The spiritual. It requires such, for it is a delicate duty. We are not all fit for it. Spirituality should produce charity. The spiritual are not to withdraw from their weaker brethren in Pharisaic pride. Such pride, indeed, is a proof of utter unspirituality. No nobler mission can be open to the purest souls than that of restoring the erring. It was Christ's great work, and he does not liberate his people from the duty of taking their share in it. The more a man has of the spirit of Christ the better will he be able to succeed in this beautiful labour of love.


1. Charity. Consider that the unfortunate man has been "overtaken" in a trespass. Make due allowance for the peculiar form of the temptation under which he fell and for the surprise with which it came upon him,

2. Meekness. The duty is not to scold, but to heal. The healer of souls must show the utmost possible gentleness, consideration for wounded pride, and respect for natural reserve, and should do all he can not to humiliate the offender more than is necessary, nor to injure his self-respect.

3. Humility. "Looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." It is not necessary to appear immaculate in order to restore another. The pride of assumed superiority will be the worst possible hindrance in such a work. It is well to remember that, if we had met the same temptation, we might have had even a more grievous fall. And some day our time may come, and then the present offender may be our restorer. Let the work be done, then, as by a brother to a brother. - W.F.A.

The Galatians have been hankering after the Law of Judaism, as though some counsels of perfection could be found therein for adding higher virtue to the graces of Christianity. "If you want a law," says St. Paul, "take this rule of mutual sympathy - bear ye one another's burdens." Christ has his law, then, after all. It is not a ceremonial observance, but it is high enough for the ambition of the noblest self-sacrifice.

I. CHRIST EXPECTS US TO TAKE DEEP INTEREST IN ONE ANOTHER. Christianity is unselfish. To think that all we have to do is to save our own souls is to misunderstand the religion of Christ completely. He who would thus save his soul will lose it. The gospel is a gospel to us just because it calls us out of ourselves and leads us to deny ourselves and practise active charity.

II. OUR SPECIAL INTEREST SHOULD BE DRAWN TOWARDS THE TROUBLES OF OTHERS. The burdens are to be our concern. How large a share of life they cover!

1. Burdens of sin. These seem to be uppermost in the mind of St. Paul (ver. 1). As Christ bore our sin, we are to bear our neighbour's; i.e. make it our trouble and anxiety, and a thing we labour at removing.

2. Burdens of sorrow. The trouble of our brother will be ours if we are members one of another.

3. Burdens of care. Fear and anxiety are magnified inloneliness. We can see the forlorn suffer from being quite desolate.

4. Burdens of doubt. Do not brand the doubter as a heretic. Enter into his difficulties. Discuss them frankly as with your brother.

III. IT IS OUR DUTY TO BEAR THESE BURDENS. The scribes bound heavy burdens grievous to be borne on the shoulders of their victims, and would not so much as touch them with their little fingers. The example of these men has been too often followed by the teachers of the Church. Yet God knows the burdens of life are heavy enough without our adding to them. Our part is to lighten them. This is a serious, practical work, and not a matter of humanitarian sentiment. We must take the burdens on ourselves till we feel the weight of them.

1. By sympathy. Real sympathy, and not mocking pity, makes another's trouble one's own. It takes the heaviest weight from the load - the dull, crushing sense of loneliness. The burden is lightened by being shared.

2. By active relief. When once we feel the burden we shall wish to remove it. Bearing it, we shall do all in our power to bear it away. Thus Christian sympathy produces active philanthropy.

IV. TO BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS IS TO FULFIL THE LAW OF CHRIST. It is required by Christ. We are disobedient to him if we neglect the duty. And to fulfil it is to satisfy Christ. In face of this plain duty there is an unreality amounting almost to hypocrisy in the effort to live a holy life by practising artificial, ascetic self-denial, as if enough could not be found in the common walks of life and in ways of plain usefulness. How absurd to wear a hair shirt and lash one's self with scourges instead of taking the self-denial in the less romantic but more Christ-like way of helping the sick and ignorant and fallen!

"The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask -
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God?" W.F.A.

A truism, yet such that, while everybody is ready to apply it to his neighbour, few are wise enough to take it home to themselves. By the very nature of the case it is always ignored where it fits most aptly. Hence the need of insisting upon it.

I. THERE ARE STRONG INDUCEMENTS FOR FORMING AN UNDULY FAVOURABLE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF. Self-knowledge is a difficult acquisition. We cannot get the right perspective. The effort of turning the mind in upon itself is arduous. Then we are inclined to take imagination and desire for direct perception, i.e. to think we possess qualities which we only picture in thought; or to measure our faculties by our inclinations, to suppose that the wish to do certain things carries with it the power. E.g. an enthusiast for the violin is likely to suppose he can handle the instrument musically before other people are of that opinion. The very habit of thinking about ourselves causes a growing sense of self-importance. Moreover, by an unconscious selection we are led to dwell on the favourable features of our own characters, and leave out of account the unfavourable.

II. A HIGH OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS COMMONLY FOUND TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW CONDITION OF REAL WORTH. Not invariably, for we sometimes find men of high endowments painfully self-assertive, either because they know that their merits have not been duly recognized, or because their vanity has been excited by the applause of their friends. Such cases reveal a weakness, and strike us as peculiarly unfortunate, for the men of worth would be wiser to wait for the acknowledgment which their merits by themselves will ultimately command had they but patience enough, or at the worst should be above caring overmuch for any such acknowledgment. Still, the merit may be real. In most cases, however, it is those who are least who boast the loudest. The man of little knowledge thinks he knows everything; wide knowledge reveals the awful vastness of the unknown, and impresses profound humility. So the holiest man is most conscious of his own sinfulness. At best, too, what right have we to think much of ourselves when all we have comes from God-our natural abilities as gifts of Providence, our spiritual attainments as graces of the Spirit?

III. AN UNDUE OPINION OF ONE'S SELF IS NOTHING BUT SELF-DECEPTION. It cannot long impose upon others. The world is not inclined to attach much weight to a man's own evidence in favour of himself. (Hypocrisy, or the deliberate effort to deceive others, is out of the question here, as that implies a knowledge of the falseness of our pretensions, while we are now considering the honest belief in them.) Such self-deception is unfortunate,

(1) because it will put us in a false position, incline us to make wrong claims, and to attempt the unattainable, and so result in disastrous failure;

(2) because it precludes the endeavour to improve ourselves;

(3) because it destroys the Christ-like grace of humility;

(4) because it provokes the ridicule, scorn, or even enmity of others. - W.F.A.

Paul has just spoken of the most delicate and precious form of philanthropy - that which deals with a brother's sins. And now he passes on to speak, just for a moment, of the duty which the Galatians owe to their spiritual teachers. They are pre-eminently the unburdeners of men's hearts; they undertake as life's chief work the ministering to minds diseased. Let them be considered, therefore, and receive all good things from those they serve. But he passes on to the greater truth of which this "ministerial support" is only a small application - that life is a seed-time; and, according as men sow, must they real,. Let philanthropy rejoice, therefore, in every opportunity of doing other people good, for a harvest with its golden glory awaits all true workers in the other life.

I. WHEN THIS LIFE IS LOOKED UPON AS SEED-TIME, WE ARE PROJECTED OF NECESSITY FOR OUR HARVEST UPON ANOTHER AND BETTER LIFE, The mistake many make is in turning this life into harvest and looking on what it affords as all. It makes a mighty difference if I am living in the autumn only and am for ever past the spring. Now, Christianity, as the religion of hope, leads us to this view of the present life. It is only seed-time. The harvest is not yet. No refinement of speculation can be allowed to cheat us of our assurance of immortality. We are only in the spring. The summer and the autumn are before us.

II. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE FLESH HAVE A FEARFUL HARVEST BEFORE THEM. (Ver. 8.) Now, it is well for us to remember here that ritualism, or salvation by ceremonies, is the error mainly attacked in this Epistle. And a careful study of Paul's writings shows that he puts this into the same category as the sins of the flesh. "Whereas there is among you," said he to the Corinthians, "envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" The exclusiveness of the ceremonialists was a bondage to the elements of the world. "The Law," it has been powerfully said, "was properly a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; but in so far as its temporary disciplinary character was lost sight of - so far as it was made a ground of national exclusiveness, and its observance a matter of personal pride - it cut its votaries off from the righteousness of God, which is essentially a derived, communicated, and universal righteousness; not of works, but of grace; not for a peculiar people, but for all men. They were living, not in the freedom and self-abandonment of the Spirit, but in the exclusiveness and selfishness of the flesh." Hence the sowing to the flesh, in its more elevated or more degraded forms, can have only one issue, and this is "corruption." What comes of the exclusiveness and fair show in the flesh? Does it promote spiritual interests? Is it not productive of vain-glory and of the corrupt, self-righteous spirit? The harvest is one of disappointment. It profiteth nothing. Into the corruption to which the grosser sins of the flesh lead we need not here enter with any particularity.

III. THOSE WHO SOW TO THE SPIRIT SHALL REAP ETERNAL LIFE. (Ver. 8.) The sowing to the Spirit is the antithesis of sowing to the flesh. It means living with spiritual and immortal aims. It means, as the succeeding context shows, the life of active philanthropy. Now, a harvest of "eternal life" (Revised Version) is before all such philanthropists. Their life on earth is a seed-time which has this immortal harvest. The very life of God, who is eternal, becomes ours, and its fulness within us is just proportional to our present diligence in philanthropy.

IV. THIS SHOULD LEAD TO GREAT PATIENCE AND COURAGE IN OUR WORK. (Ver. 9.) We should not faint or get weary in our well-doing. Work along this line is sure to tell. Let us not be discouraged. Let us give the first place in our philanthropy to "the household of faith," and the second place to "all men" indiscriminately. Let us honestly be public benefactors, and a multiplication of blessing will be found awaiting us when the harvest comes, beyond our most sanguine hopes. The patience of hope is the attitude of every believing soul, and the harvest is in a wealth of life beyond the shadows proportional to our philanthropic spirit here. - R.M.E.

I. THE MODE OF SUPPORTING THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY, "But let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." It is implied that there is to be, in the Christian Church, an order of men whose function it is to teach in the Word. Where these give their whole time and attention to their work, which, as a general arrangement, is most advisable, it is necessary that provision should be made for their temporal support. The mode of support here sanctioned by the apostle is that the taught in the Word should contribute for the support of their teachers. Receiving spiritual things, they are to show their value of them by communicating of their temporal things. The apostle himself did not always see his way to take advantage of this mode of support. But even when he worked with his own hands to support himself, as he did at Corinth, he let it be known that he was waiving his right of support from the Church he was serving. This voluntary mode of support has a rival in the mode of endowment. Where Christian teachers are the beneficiaries of the state, there are questions raised which need not be entered into here. But there may be endowment not connected with the state. Christian people have sometimes gifted moneys and lands for the support of Christian teachers. And where these benefactions are used to support teachers for those who have not been brought under the influence of Christianity, or in aid of what can be raised by congregations, there is no violation of the spirit of the apostolic ordinance. But the question is whether Christian people should contribute, according to their ability, for the support of their minister. Should a Christian teacher be thrown on the willinghood of his people? or should he have his income secured to him apart from his people? It is said to be lowering to a minister that he should be dependent on his people. So far as worldly status or emolument is concerned that may be set aside. The essential thing is that he should have the opportunity of doing good to men by teaching them in the Word. And, where he has that secured to him, he may be content to be supported in the way in which the Master and apostles were supported before him. But it is said that he is under the temptation to lower his ideal of the Christian ministry in accommodation to the tastes of those upon whom he depends for his support. That may be a reason for his being on his guard; but it is surely not a reason for dispensing with an apostolic ordinance. Is there no danger, on the other hand, of bringing down the ideal mode of supporting the Christian ministry to worldly expediency? The apostolic mode only works well where there are really spiritual men, where real spiritual benefit is done by the teacher, and where the taught are really interested and reasonable. But is it wise that it should be abandoned for a mode which dispenses with spiritual conditions? Is that not coming down to lower principles upon the failure of higher principles? And is it likely that these lower principles will be accompanied with the same spiritual results? The apostolic mode of support has advantages for the minister. He is put more on doing his best. He is under less temptation to consult his case, and under greater necessity to work for his people. He is under less temptation to preach according to his fancy, and under greater necessity to bind himself to the word that is most fitted to interest and to benefit. He is under less temptation to be indifferent to his people, and under greater necessity to live well in their affection. The apostolic mode of support has also advantages for the people. It delivers them from the feeling of dependence on others. It delivers them from spiritual inertia. And, when they have a field for their own exertions and sacrifices in connection with the gospel message, they are more likely to be interested, both in the message and in the messenger.

II. PRINCIPLE INVOLVED. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life." It is remarkable here how the apostle, in support of the particular duty which he has been inculcating, introduces a great and wide principle. There is a similar instance in 2 Corinthians 8. He is inculcating there the duty of liberality, and he brings in the transcendent consideration of Christ's self-sacrificing love: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich." Here he is inculcating the duty of the taught in the Word doing well by their teachers; and he brings in the great principle of sowing and reaping. The immediate application is this. There are certain conditions upon which God blesses congregations. One of these is that they do well by their ministers. Let them not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let them not think that he will act independently of his own regulation, or reverse it for their particular benefit. Only as they do well by their spiritual teacher shall they prosper. What a powerful enforcement of the duty! But let us look at the principle in its generality, and let us learn, in connection with the consideration of it, lessons suitable to seed-time and harvest.

1. The sower is also the reaper. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall be also reap." The seed he puts into the ground he gets back in the form of fruit. Everywhere is this arrangement carried out. The seed, small and hard, or walled up in stone, or blown about, is, of all objects in nature, the most suggestive. Nature sows innumerable seeds, far up in rocky places, and far away in lonely islands of the sea. Man principally confines himself to the sowing of a few seeds which are necessary for his life and would perish but for his care. A seed is a force, has power stored up in it which does not yet appear. It may be buried in the dry earth for centuries; but, under favouring conditions, it will burst forth, spring up, and come to maturity. And there is what is analogous within the spiritual sphere. All human life is a sowing. Whether we think of it or not, every time that we think and feel and exercise our wills we are sowing. All our acts are forces, which unite and form character. That is the great harvest which even here we are reaping. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that he will not do what he is constantly teaching us in nature. Let us not think that we can do an action and have done with it when it is done. It is impossible. Even our slight words are forces that are productive. Our listless moods will be found by us again. As certainly as we sow shall there appear a harvest.

2. We reap in the same kind that we sow. "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We are familiar with this too in nature. If we sow in our flower-plots mignonette seed, there will grow up mignonette plants. If we sow in our fields oats, there will not grow up barley; if we sow barley, there will not grow up wheat. The type of what is sown is impressed on what is produced from it. And the analogy is carried out within the spiritual sphere. We reap in the same kind that we sow. The character of our actions is stamped upon the results that they produce in our nature. We are only liberal as we have acted liberally. We are only devout as we have cultivated devout habits. Wisdom does not spring from the same kind of seed as zeal; nor gentleness from the same kind of seed as courage. Whatever fruit we would have, we must sow in that kind. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that he will disregard his own appointment - like seed, like harvest. Let us not think that we can sow niggardliness and reap fatness; that we can sow dissipation and reap steadfastness. The kind that we sow in our actions, and none other, determines what we reap.

3. As we sow to the flesh or to the Spirit, what we reap is corruptible or incorruptible. There are many kinds of seeds in nature; but there is one essential distinction between them. There are seeds of plants which are vile and noxious, and which we seek only to extirpate. And there are seeds of plants which are useful or beautiful, and which we seek to cultivate. Sowing to the flesh is doing what is right in our own eyes, acting without regard to the will of God. It is like sowing the seeds of weeds in the soil of our hearts. Sowing to the Spirit is what is called, in the Old Testament, sowing in righteousness, doing what is right before God. It is like sowing the seeds of useful grains, or of beautiful flowers, in the soil of our hearts. It is said, sowing "to our own flesh," but simply "sowing to the Spirit," showing that the point of the distinction is taking the rule of our actions from self or from God. The Divine ordering is that, sowing to the flesh, we shall of the flesh reap corruption. And we are sufficiently taught what corruption is. There is an offensiveness connected with wet, decayed vegetable matter. There is a greater offensiveness connected with putrid animal matter. And, as the best things corrupted are the worst, there is nothing so offensive, within the material sphere, as the human body in a state of corruption. And that, again, is but a suggestion of what the soul is in a state of corruption. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. Let us not think that we can break God's laws with impunity. Let us not think that we can sin, and have the freshness and beauty of holiness. It is impossible. Sin is working its work of deterioration even here. It is bringing in the elements of death into our nature. It is as though mortification in all its loathsomeness were proceeding in our various powers. And it is the most solemn fact of existence that, if we die in sin, then, as certainly as there is righteousness in the character of God, will retribution follow us into the next world. On the other hand, the Divine ordering is that, sowing to the Spirit, we shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. There is nothing within the material sphere which can fitly set forth what this life is. As spirit is finer than matter, so is spiritual life finer than the most lovely flower, the most beautiful human bodily form. It has especially the element of imperishableness, eternity. Flowers quickly fade; the most beautiful face loses its freshness. But the line that is begun in God and carried on in God shall be eternal as God himself. Let us not, then, be deceived. God is not mocked. It is only by sowing to the Spirit that we can get beautiful and imperishable elements into our line. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honourable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." That is the order of the Divine government which we must observe if we would be beautified with the Divine beauty and immortalized with the Divine immortality. Seeing, then, that God cannot deny himself, must honour his own arrangement, let us learn the supreme importance of sowing to the Spirit. There is nothing in this principle, rightly considered, which militates against the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. For the great Substitute of mankind came under the broken Law, which had its full course in him. He reaped, in terrible experience of forsakenness what we had sowed in our sins. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And, therefore, it is that we can reap a rich harvest of forgiveness. But it needs to be borne in mind, as a complementary truth, that, after we are forgiven, we have still to contend against depraved tendency, and especially against the results of our previous sinful life. And it is also to be borne in mind that we can only have the harvest of life eternal in so far as we have thought out the Divine thoughts and carried out the Divine will. Let us not be deceived. God is not mocked. In no other way can it be secured by us.

III. ENCOURAGEMENT AGAINST WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING. "And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." The apostle has been exhorting to do well by Christian teachers; he now proceeds to exhort to well-doing in general, i.e. to all kinds of doing well to the bodies and souls of men. And let it be understood, that nothing is worthy of the name of well-doing which is not done from a right motive. It must be, not for self-glorification, but for the glory of God.

1. Causes of weariness.

(1) There are discouragements connected with the nature of well-doing. It is under a high impulse that we begin the life of well-doing. It is the kind of life that is furthest removed from selfishness. It requires a large infusion of the spirit in which Christ regarded men. But we have still to do with the matter-of-fact world. We are not placed above the ordinary cares and difficulties of life These may increase with us and may act upon us so as to tend to weariness in well-doing. We have to give out largely too of our best strength in well-doing. To be burdened with the souls of men is exhausting beyond anything else. And the more intensely we care for souls the more are we laid open to a feeling of weariness.

(2) There are discouragements connected with the associations of well-doing. We may not like the scenes of discomfort, squalor, and vice into which well-doing brings us. We may feel the want of suitable appliances for engaging in well-doing. We may feel the want of hearty co-operation. Some to whom we had reason to look may fail us, having become cold in the work. Of our fellow-workers in the same society some may be more intent on getting their own way than on the advancement of the common cause, if they do not even resort to slander and obstruction. And all these things are causes of weariness.

(3) There are especially discouragements connected with the results of well-doing. In other work we can, to a large extent, walk by sight. We feel the encouraging influence of results. There is something to show for what our hands have done every day. But in well-doing there is little to show in the shape of results. There is something to be seen, indeed, if we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. And there are also results that can be tested, if we engage in communicating knowledge to the young and the ignorant. But if we seek to influence men's hearts through gospel truth we may have to say, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" We may labour on, and some may appear further removed from good than they were. Some who appeared to be established may show deterioration or may fall greviously, to our great amazement and sorrow. Or, if we meet with outward tokens of success, in the very moment of success it may be felt to be unsatisfying. It may be not all real, when tested even by time. And we may afterwards be disappointed in some upon whom we reckoned as savingly influenced. And there arc wearying influences that come in from a wider range. It may seem as if there were but poor results from the money and labour spent on missions. It may seem as if little inroads were made upon the domain of evil. It may seem as if the Church were losing its wonted fire, were feeling the chilling influence of the world. It may seem as if iniquity were abounding, and, because iniquity abounds, our love, and that of many others, is apt to wax cold.

2. Encouragement against weariness. We cannot remove the causes of weariness in well-doing. We cannot escape the temptation to be weary. What we have to do is to refuse to yield to the temptation. "Let us not be weary" - that is the word which the apostle sends forth to all who are inclined to be weary in well-doing. Let us learn a lesson from what we see going on in nature. The sower does not see his harvest the day he sows his seed. He has to begin by putting his seed out of sight, and it is a time before the plant appears above ground. And then he has to wait until nature slowly brings it forward to maturity. But if, in the face of what he does not yet see, he faint not as under the burning heat of the sun, then he shall assuredly one day be privileged to bring in the ripe grain into the stackyard. For God has appointed a season for this. So let us learn, in the face of all discouragements connected with well-doing, especially in the face of what we do not yet see of results, that, if we faint not, if we lose not faith in God, in the mighty influences of the Divine Spirit, in the converting efficacy of the Divine message, in the binding nature of the Divine command, and if we lose not hope for man, - then in due season we shall assuredly reap. We shall reap in our own souls, in the blessing God shall not delay to send on us for engaging, unweariedly, in well-doing. And, what is more to the purpose of well-doing, we shall reap in others, in the blessing which God may not immediately or within our observation, but shall in due season, send upon them as the result of tearful prayers and labours which he never forgets. Let us, then, cast our bread, though it may be as upon the waters, and we shall find it, though it may be after many days. God has his own time and way of bringing the seed forward, and it may be long after we are dead and gone that the fruit shall be gathered in.

IV. OPPORTUNITY OF WELL-DOING. "So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of faith." These three things constitute opportunity, viz. time, ability, and objects of well-doing.

1. There is the limit of time. Spring is the season for sowing the seed. If it is not improved, there will be nothing to gather at harvest-time. So the present life is the season for well-doing. It does not appear that in the next world we shall be employed in reclaiming sinners. Let us, then, improve the time that God has given us for doing good, all the more because of the uncertainty of its being continued to us. In the morning let us sow our seed, in the evening let us not withhold our hand. Let us serve well our day and generation.

2. There is the limit of ability. God has given us all the means of doing good with our powers, and money. Up to that point we have obligation. Let us, then, faithfully discharge our obligation as before God. Let us know how to use our powers, not selfishly, but usefully, beneficently. Let us learn the secret of making ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.

3. The objects of well-doing. These are in a manner unlimited. The apostle says, "all men." That is to say, that, if we had time and ability, it would literally be our duty to work that which is good to all men. As it is, wherever there is a human being, he has a claim upon us on the ground of his humanity and on the ground of his being the object of God's love and of Christ's redemption. But there is a defining, limiting of the order in which we are to proceed with those whom we seek to bless. As within the natural sphere our own household have the first claim on us, so within the Christian sphere it is those who are of the household of faith. It is an additional and cogent reason for the bestowment of a charity that the objects of it have the same faith and sympathies and look forward to the same home with ourselves. Within the Christian household, too, our own family and friends, our own neighbours, our own countrymen, have a prior claim on our interest. But let us remember that, if charity begins at home, it does not end there. We must go out in the spirit of this exhortation in our sympathies and charities and labours to all the ignorant, and to them that are out of the way. "I exhort therefore that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." - R.F.

The Galatians appear to have been niggardly in their contributions for the support of their Christian teachers (ver. 6). St. Paul warns them that such conduct will tell against themselves (see Proverbs 11:24). The principle on which he bases his admonition is one of deep significance and wide application. No doubt the apostle wished it to be impressed upon his readers in all its bearings as well as in relation to the particular case that led him to mention it.


1. This is part of the general law that, other things being equal, the same cause always produces the same effect. There is no known exception to the law of causation; there is no possible evasion of it. We see it plainly working in human affairs. The eternal constancy of nature assures us that the consequences of which certain conduct is known to be the cause will undoubtedly follow.

2. The special law of sowing and reaping is that the product of the harvest will be the same in kind as the seed sown. Tares will never produce wheat, nor wheat tares. But each seed reproduces its own kind. This is seen in human affairs. Commercial industry 'tends to commercial wealth, intellectual study to a state of intellectual culture, etc. It is vain to think that money will buy refinement or that learning is the road to wealth. Each pursuit has its own consequences in accordance with its own nature.


1. Here the future depends on the past and present by a certain law of causation. No words could more plainly assert that our conduct is shaping our own fate; and these are not the words of St. James, but of St. Paul! and they occur, of all places, in the Epistle to the Galatians, where the doctrine of justification by faith is most vehemently asserted! Moreover, they are not addressed to Jews still under the Law, nor to heathen who have not yet availed themselves of the privileges of the gospel, but to Christians who have come into the justification by faith, as it is to Christians that St. Paul says elsewhere, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God" (Romans 14:10). We are here reminded that the future consequences of conduct are natural, not adventitious - that they are caused by what we are and do, that they flow of their own accord from our lives, and are not assigned from without by any arbitrary decree. We simply reap what our own sowing has produced for us.

2. In spiritual things there is a correspondence between what is sown and what is reaped.

(1) Sowing to the flesh produces its own natural harvest - corruption. The mere animal life, the life of worldly interests, the life of the lower self, is itself a life of corruptible things. Its soil and nourishment are earthly and cannot outlast death. When the grave opens all is lost. Even before death thieves steal, and moth and rust eat into the treasures. The soul itself, too, is corrupted by such a life. Its faculties are dissipated and decay away. It descends to the evil state of moral rottenness and death.

(2) Sowing to the Spirit produces its own harvest of eternal life. Spiritual things are eternal things. Treasures in heaven are beyond destroying influences. In proportion as the spiritual within us is cultivated we have what will outlast death and what no grave will ever claim. Already we have an eternal life in living in the things that are spiritual and therefore eternal. Money goes, but faith remains; the pleasures of the senses pall upon us, but the peace of God never fails; self-seeking leads to dissatisfaction, the love of God sustains us with undying interests.

III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH A LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING IS A WANNING AGAINST INSINCERITY. It is vain to shut our eyes to it. Nature is pitilessly inexorable, and here we are considering a law of nature which is as rigid as the law of gravitation. Deception may avail with men, but here we have God's action, and no subterfuge can escape his detection. There is a sort of irony on our petty schemes and contrivances in the calm, sure way in which the laws of the universe work out their issues, totally regardless of what we may imagine or pretend. Yet we are in danger of self-deception.

1. The harvest is delayed. The result is not the less certain, however, on that account. Seeds found buried with Egyptian mummies thousands of years ago when sown now bear fruit after their kind, with as little deviation as if they had been produced last harvest.

2. We expect more consequences than the law of sowing and reaping justifies. Thus we are surprised that bad men should be prosperous in worldly matters and good men unfortunate. But each reaps as he sows. fie who sows to the world reaps worldly gain, with its ultimate corruption. He who sows only to the Spirit has no right to expect more than spiritual returns. His harvest will be eternal life, not money and pleasure. He gets just what he sows, only with increase. Finally, how can we reconcile this principle with the gospel of Christ and the doctrine of grace? Simply by seeing that to have a true submissive and obedient faith in Christ is to sow to the Spirit. - W.F.A.


1. It is a feeling, not at present a change of action. The well-doing is continued in spite of weariness. Our moods vary, and we can scarcely be held to be responsible for them. The essential thing is that we do not cease working.

2. It is very different from being weary of well-doing. We may grow weary in our work and yet be most anxious for the success of it. Such weariness is a common condition. How often is the flesh weak while the spirit is willing! How often is the spirit, too, wearily cleaving to the dust, and pining for a Divine inspiration, like the hart thirsting and panting for the water-brooks!


1. It is distressing. The task over which we sing in the freshness of the morning becomes a burden to groan under when the evening finds us jaded and worn.

2. It is likely to make our work defective. We cannot row fast when the stream turns contrary to us, nor work effectively against the grain.

3. It may lead to the abandonment of our mission. Weariness may end in despair. If we have no joy in our work we shall be tempted to negligence.


1. In ourselves.

(1) Want of rest. "Come ye aside and rest awhile," said Christ to his disciples in the midst of their busiest labours.

(2) Want of nourishment. We grow weary if we work long without food. There is a danger lest the active servant of Christ should neglect his own private prayer and meditation and the quiet inward spiritual sustenance that is so necessary to give vigour and freshness to the external service.

2. Causes in our work.

(1) Monotony and drudgery. How much of our work has no glow of romance and no inspiration of heroism about it! The soldier grows tired of camp service, though he would put forth tenfold exertions in the excitement of battle without feeling weary.

(2) Lack of results. It often looks as though we were labouring in vain. Now, futile toil is of all toil the most wearying.


1. If it comes from our own habits anal conditions, see that we have the rest and nourishment that our souls need. We must be more with God in prayer. Natural bodily rest may be needed too. A good holiday may be the best cure for a weariness that sadly troubles the soul of a conscientious toiler.

2. If the weariness comes from our work,

(1) remember that Christ is watching us, so that the commonest drudgery done for his sake becomes a noble service and will receive as warm an approval as the most brilliant achievement - nay, a more kindly recognition, seeing that it was more trying to discharge the lowly duty with full fidelity; and

(2) remember that the harvest, though delayed, will surely be reaped in due time, - then "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy." - W.F.A.

Paul has been urging the Galatians to do good to all men, for now is the seed-time of philanthropy, and the harvest will be afterwards. And now he appeals to them by the "large letters" of this unique Epistle, which seems to have been the only one which was a complete autograph. Though penmanship was a trouble to him, he was yet anxious to do for these Galatians what good he could in the spirit he has been enforcing. But philanthropy has its counterfeits. Consequently he warns them once again against those teachers of ceremonialism, who would have the heathen converts to try to save themselves by Jewish ceremonies. These are merely making tools of them to save themselves. They wish to escape persecution for Christianity. Paul, on the other hand, glories in the cross, and carries in his body the marks of the Crucified One. The following thoughts are here suggested: -

I. THE TOLERATION EXTENDED BY THE HEATHEN WORLD TO JUDAISM. The heathen world was largely latitudinarian. The idea was comprehensive. All gods were to be put in the Pantheon. But among the idolatries of the East, Judaism, a spiritual worship, got a footing. Its synagogues were built side by side with the heathen temples, and they were allowed to worship without molestation. Their proselytism was trifling; their missionary enterprise was unworthy of the name. The heathen could not fear them. Hence their immunity from persecution.

II. THE JEWISH TEACHERS THOUGHT THAT, IF THEY MADE ALL CHRISTIAN CONVERTS JEWISH PROSELYTES, THEY WOULD SECURE CHRISTIANITY FROM PERSECUTION. They did not want to be persecuted for the cross. They wanted to avail themselves of the toleration of Judaism and merge Christianity in it. An emasculated Christianity might escape the persecution which, in its naked simplicity, it was fitted to secure. It was a policy of compromise, begotten of cowardice and fear. Pride went along with it. It would be a grand thing to count up so many converts to Judaism and glory in the growth of circumcision. It was a selfish stroke under the guise of philanthropy.

III. THE ANTAGONISM INDICATED BY THE CROSS. NOW, the cross of Christ is the expression of the antagonism of the world to the self-sacrificing Philanthropist who thus perished. It could not and would not tolerate the person who would not save himself when he had the power. It believes only in those who can take care of number one. As soon, then, as a man like Paul gets into unison with the crucified Christ, as soon as the cross becomes an experience within, and a self-sacrificing spirit takes hold of a man for the sake of doing good to others, that moment the world and he become antagonistic. They cannot get on together. The world is crucified to the person and he to the world. Each wishes to put the other out of the way, and as contemptuously as possible. As soon, therefore, as the world discovered what Christianity meant, that it meant a brotherhood of self-sacrificing philanthropy, it took alarm, for it saw that, if Christianity were not put down, it would put worldliness down. Hence the drawback of persecution attaching to the Christian faith.

IV. IN THIS UNWORLDLY CROSS PAUL GLORIED. He appreciated its efficacy. He recognized its claims. He allowed it to make him unworldly. Hence he made it the sum and substance of his teaching. He preached "Christ crucified" continually. Circumcision was nothing in which to glory. It was a carnal ordinance which might be very carnally administered, and a mere stepping-stone for pride. But the cross of Jesus was an object in which to glory. Its spirit was so unworldly, so self-sacrificing, so noble, that nothing in this world was so worthy of our interest and glorying.

V. HE HAD CHRIST'S HAND UPON HIS BODY. Now, if a man goes in for self-sacrifice, as Paul did, under the spell of Christ's cross, his body will soon show it. There can be no pampering of the flesh. A spiritual soul soon makes the tenement enshrining it to transmit some of its glory. Paul shows the marks of self-sacrifice upon his person. Christ had made him his slave, and put the brand upon him. As Christ's prisoner, he had the seals of office in his person. Consequently, no man need trouble him or try to move him away from his standard, the cross. It is a noble ending to this fine Epistle. May it make all its students to glory in the cross also! - R.M.E.

I. HIS HANDWRITING. "See with how large letters I have written unto you with mine own hand." He seems to intimate that not merely the following words, but, against his usual custom, the whole Epistle, was in his own handwriting. This was to be interpreted as a manifestation of his interest in them in connection with the importance of the occasion. He also intimates that he used large characters. It cannot be imagined that his intention in doing so, and in calling attention to it, was to emphasize his instructions. It was rather to be interpreted as an appeal to them in connection with his defective vision which necessitated the use of large characters.


1. They desired to appear well for their own interest. "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ." He does not mention the Judaizing teachers by name, but he graphically describes them. They did not care for reality; what they cared for was to make a fair show. And, though it was to make a fair show in religion, that did not remove it from the sphere of the flesh. It was still self that was the actuating principle. If they had presented the cross of Christ in its simplicity, as the apostle seems to imply they were free in their conscience to have done, they would have offended their unbelieving countrymen, and would have been subjected to persecution from them. The carnal, self-interested way in which they got over the offence of the cross was to insist on the circumcision of the Gentile converts.

2. Their false glorying. "For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the Law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh." They were the party of the circumcision, not merely because they were circumcised themselves, but because they made circumcision a prominent article in their teaching. They had not the zeal that might have been expected of them for the Law; for they were faulty in their own keeping of it, feeling it to be burdensome to their flesh. They displayed their zeal in proselytizing. They hoped to hold themselves up to the admiration of their countrymen in the numbers, not that had undergone a saving change, but that, through their influence, had received the mark of circumcision in their flesh.


1. His glorying. "But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

(1) He gloried in the cross. By the cross we are to understand the atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ. By glorying in the cross we are to understand that he not only trusted in it for his own salvation, and admired it himself, but that he held it up for the trust and admiration of others. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine love. It was God not sparing his Son, but delivering him up for the salvation of men. If love is to be measured by sacrifice, then it was a love that made infinite sacrifice. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine righteousness. In default of man being able to make satisfaction for his sin unless in his own destruction, it was God coming forward in Christ and making satisfaction for sin by paying its utmost penalty. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine power. It was God in Christ conquering the kingdom of Satan, showing himself stronger than the evil of man's heart. The cross is to be gloried in as a marvellous exhibition of the Divine wisdom. It was God showing how he could be just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; showing how he could attract the sinner to himself, and yet condemn his sin.

(2) He gloried especially in the cross because of its effecting changed relations to the world. By the world we are to understand the sphere in which the principles of the flesh find their manifestation. The cross crucified the world to him. He condemned it and tore himself from it because of its antagonism to God. He was independent of its favours and pleasures, for he had better within himself, in the love and approval of God, and in all the joys of sonship. The cross crucified him to the world. It condemned him in turn, and stood aloof from him as a lost man, and only thought of him to hate him and persecute him. In this cross, then, with all that it entailed, he gloried, and in this alone. Far be it from him to hold up anything else for the trust and admiration of men.

2. His regard for reality. "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." To him it was of no importance that men should be outwardly marked. What was of importance was that they should be inwardly changed, Numbers he would have rejoiced in if they represented saved men.

IV. AS HIS SPIRIT WAS SO HE BLESSED. "And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." He invokes blessing on all who would walk by the rule laid down, i.e. who would glory only in the cross of Christ, and would seek reality and not appearances. He invokes blessing on them in the usual form, only putting peace before mercy. All such, and not those whom the Judaizers blessed, were to be regarded as the Israel of God.

V. His CLAIM TO BE UNMOLESTED. "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus." A general who has seen long service and has received many scars may reasonably claim to be relieved from future service. That was not Paul's claim. Hard service had a singular charm for him. But he thought that he had received scars enough to place his relationship to Christ as his servant and apostle henceforth beyond all doubt. The slave had branded on his body the name of the Master to whom he belonged. So in his past hardships he had as it were the name of Jesus branded on him. Henceforth, whatever men might do to him, let them not molest him by raising doubt as to the Master to whom he belonged.

VI. HIS SPECIAL AND FINAL BLESSING FOR THE GALATIANS. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen" He blesses them from the centre of their being. He was so charged with indignation when he commenced the Epistle that he was long before he could address them as brethren. Now he is so charged with affection that, putting" brethren" into an unusual position, he makes it the last word that shall linger in their memory when they have completed the reading of the Epistle. We have no evidence of the immediate effect which this Epistle had upon the Galatians. It is painful to read of heresies which, at a subsequent period, were rife among them. It is, however, pleasing to know that in the Diocletian persecution in the beginning of the fourth century, and in the "attempt to galvanize the expiring form of heathen devotion in Galatia," by Julian the apostate, there were not's few Galatian martyrs. It cannot be said that there is at the present day within the district any representation of Pauline Christianity. The Christian Church has yet to show its indebtedness for this Epistle by going forth in the spirit of the great preacher of the cross to reconquer Galatian soil for Christ. - R.F.


1. St. Paul can glory in nothing else. Yet he had whereof to glory. His birth, his education, and his religious devotions had been sources of pride to him. His Christian attainments, his apostolic authority, his missionary triumphs, and his brave endurance of persecutions, might be taken as reasons for self-glorification. But he rejects the whole. Plainly no Christian inferior to St. Paul can have anything in himself to be proud of.

2. The glorying only begins in looking away from self to Christ. Men talk of glorying in their crosses. But St. Paul boasted, not in his own cross, but only in the cross of Christ. He made nothing of his sufferings for Christ; all his interest was absorbed in Christ's sufferings for him. All the brightness of Christian experience centres in Christ.

3. The grand source of glorying is the cross of Christ. The cross was the symbol of shame; it has become the token of what we most reverently adore. So complete is the transformation of ideas that we can with difficulty understand the paradox as it would strike the contemporaries of St. Paul when he spoke of glorying in the cross. It is as though we spoke of priding ourselves on the gallows. This cross, this instrument of shameful death has become the emblem of Christianity. Gleaming in gold on the spires and domes of our cathedrals, it typifies the most vital truth of Christianity. The glory of the cross is not a merely mystical sentiment. It springs from evident facts:

(1) the fidelity of Christ as the good Shepherd, who would not forsake the flock and flee before the wolf;

(2) the patience, gentleness, and forgiving spirit of Christ on the cross; but

(3) chiefly the love of Christ in suffering shame and anguish and death for us. There are some who would dispense with the doctrine of the cross; but a crossless Christianity will be a mutilated, impotent gospel, robbed of all efficacy, shorn of all glory.

II. THE CROSS AS AN INSTRUMENT OF DEATH. The cross does not change its nature by winning its glory. Still, it is a cross - tool of pain and death. It is no less than this to the Christian as it was no less to Christ. For Christianity is not a calm acceptance of what Christ has done in our stead; it is union with Christ, first in his death and then in his victory.

1. The cross means the death of the world to us. Before that glory of Divine love in human passion all lesser lights fade and perish. As we look upon the cross the world loses its hold upon us. In the vision of truth and purity and love even to death, the threats of the world's hurts lose their terror and the fascinations of its pleasures their charm.

2. The cross means our death to the world. Joined with Christ by faith, we have the old self killed out of us. Hitherto the power of the lower world has dragged us down to sin and trouble. But in proportion as we are united to the Crucified we cease to have the feelings and interests which chain us to the earthly. St. Paul describes a magnificent ideal. No man on earth has fully realized it. It must be the aim of the Christian more and more to be one with Christ, that the cross may pass more deeply into his soul till all else melts and fades out of experience. These two aspects of the cross - its death-power in us, its glory in Christ - are directly related. For it is only after it has been the instrument of death to us that we can rise in the new life and see it as the one absorbing object of glory. - W.F.A.

I. EXTERNAL RELIGION COUNTS FOR NOTHING. "For neither is circumcision anything. Religion is wholly in the soul.

1. No rite has any value in itself. Nothing done to the body is of any religious account whatever. Neither is anything done by the body. A rite may be a symbol, and as such a means of grace; but St. Paul plainly teaches that it has no magical efficacy.

2. Ecclesiastical position is in itself of no importance. Circumcision was the seal of membership in the Jewish Church. Yet it was nothing. We may be members of the strictest sect, or we may hold high rank in the most august Church. But before God this is just nothing.

3. Doctrinal orthodoxy counts for nothing. Not that truth is unimportant. But the mere intellectual grasp of theological ideas leaves us where it finds us; and therefore if we go no further it is of no consequence whether those ideas are true or false. Conversely, to dispense with rites, to be in no Church, or to be unorthodox, is no condemnation. Neither, however, is it a merit, as some extravagant admirers of the idea of heresy strangely assert. If circumcision is not anything, neither is uncircumcision.

II. THE ONE ESSENTIAL IS TO BECOME A NEW CREATURE. This great truth implies two others.

1. In religious matters the important question is as to what we are. It matters not what is done to us or what we hold. All of importance is in our own life and character. If we are not true and pure and self-sacrificing, if we have not the Spirit of Christ, all our orthodoxy, Church status, and ritual observances are an empty mockery. If we are thus Christ-like, any further question is irrelevant. The sole essential is then safe.

2. In our sinful condition we are not like Christ, but are so radically unlike him as to need a complete, new creation before we can be in a right condition. The requisite change is so thorough that no ordinary religious influences will accomplish it. Circumcision is nothing, because what we want is nothing less than the crucifixion and death of the whole old life and the creation of an entirely new life. When this change has been accomplished, however, it is the evidence of its own sufficiency. It is impertinent to raise little questions of rites, etc., when the new man bears in each lineament of his countenance, in the very tone of his conversation, and in the bearing of his whole life, the princely character of a son of God.

III. THE CHRISTIAN IS A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST. What circumcision symbolizes faith effects (Galatians 5:6). By their fruits ye shall know them." The gospel of faith proves its claims by the results that it works. Nothing else can make men new creatures. The gospel can do this. For those, then, who are still in the old life of sin here is a warning and an encouragement.

1. A warning. Renewal is necessary.

2. An encouragement. Renewal is possible.

No painful rites have to be observed, no difficult doctrines comprehended, no strict Church entered. All that is wanted is union with Christ in faith. The way is simple and clear; it is not easy and painless, for it is by being crucified with Christ. But it issues in a glorious new life. - W.F.A.

To one who enters into the ideas taught by St. Paul, the anxiety of some persons in the present day to discover that the English are descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel is altogether mistaken. Even if they could prove their very improbable theory, it would have nothing but an ethnological, or at best a sentimental, interest. Religiously it is not of the slightest importance. All Christians, whatever their birth and descent, are the true Israel of God. Look at some of the marks of Israel upon the Christian.

I. ABRAHAM'S SEED. The Jew traced his pedigree back to Abraham. He was Abraham's seed. Therefore he accounted himself the heir of the promises made to Abraham. The Christian possesses Abraham's faith. By means of this he becomes Abraham's seed (Galatians 3:29), while the Jew who lacks faith is disowned.

II. POSSESSING THE ORACLES OF GOD. St. Paul reckons as the first advantage of the Jews "that they were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). The Hebrew race had the unspeakable privilege of receiving through their inspired teachers the highest revelation of God vouchsafed to the world for many ages. But there came a later revelation outshining this old revelation in clearness and glory. The Jew rejected this. The Christian accepted it. The Christian holds the New Testament, and he has Christ, God's brightest manifestation of himself. Thus he steps into the position held by ancient Israel.

III. SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. The Jew was called out from the world to live apart as a lonely race with a peculiar destiny of its own. Christians are thus called out of life into the world. They are made to live as pilgrims and strangers, as sojourners with God.

IV. A MISSION TO THE WOULD. Israel did not always understand her mission, and often grossly neglected it in proud exclusiveness. Yet many of the prophets saw clearly that the chosen people were called from among the nations that they might be trained to give to the world the highest blessings. They did this, but only through giving it Christianity. Now, Christians are an elect people - elect to be missionaries and apostles to the people that sit in darkness.

V. A SUTURE HERITAGE. The Hebrew in the wilderness looked for a promised had. Abraham and the patriarchs had hoped for "a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." The perfect fulfilment of these hopes was not given to the Jew on earth. It is for the Christian hereafter; for "there remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). - W.F.A.

I. THE APOSTLE IS THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. The stigmata are the brands, the name of the master burnt on the slave. The most honoured of the apostles regards himself as the branded servant of Christ. To no higher honour can any Christian aspire. Christianity is living, not for self, but for Christ. We must all understand that Christ stands to us in the relation of a Master. Our part is to submit to his will. The supreme and peculiar Christian duty is obedience to Christ (John 14:21).

II. THE TRUE SERVANT OF CHRIST BEARS THE HARK OF HIS MASTER. St. Paul bore on his body the scars of the sufferings he had endured in the service of Christ. These plainly marked him as Christ's. Christians must all bear indications of Christ on their lives. It may be granted that St. Francis was none the better for having the wound-marks as of the nails of the cross in his hands and feet. Yet this strange condition was the last proof of his passionate identification of himself with Christ in thought and will and affection. So the Christian must ever have the Name of Jesus upon him in the Christ-likeness of his life. It is useless to have it merely on the tongue; it must be on the body, i.e. on the life.

III. THE MARKS OF CHRIST COME THROUGH SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. Thus St. Paul received his. They were brands burnt in by fiery trials. Suffering for Christ proves our fidelity to him and brings out our Christ-likeness of character. They who are like the rocky soil and receive the Word with joy, but cannot withstand persecution, may sing of the sweetness of the Name of Jesus in sentimental hymns; but they have no such Name branded on their persons. After all their enthusiasm has evaporated, we see nothing but self left. The Christian must deny himself for Christ. His life may not be so hard as St. Paul's. Rarely has such hardship been known as the great apostle endured; rarely have the brands been burnt so deep with such cruel fires. Yet all must have an experience that is similar in kind, though perhaps far less in degree. The sufferer, however, may console himself with the thought that the more fiery the trial he endures for Christ becomes, the deeper will be the sacred marks of the Name of Jesus upon him. For nothing makes us so Christ-like and nothing binds us so near to Christ as patient suffering and toil for his sake. This suggests the fear that it is no easy thing to be a Christian. Certainly to be a true Christian such as St. Paul was is not easy; it is the depth of self-renunciation and the height of arduous fidelity. Count the cost, then. Look at the irons ready to brand the Name of Jesus before consenting to become his servant. But look also on the other side, at what he suffered for us and at the glory of his service.

IV. THE BRANDS OF SERVICE SHOULD BE THE SECURITY OF THE SERVANT OF CHRIST. With such marks upon him, how dare any man trouble the apostle by questioning his authority? Suffering for Christ should be a confirmation of our faith to others. It should also be a security against the danger of unfaithfulness. How can he who bears the Name of Jesus thus conspicuously burnt in by hard trial and long service forsake his Master? Such brands should be eternal. - W.F.A.

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