After the usual apostolic greeting, Paul proceeds, not to congratulate or compliment the Galatians in any way, but to reprimand them for turning away from the gospel to ritualism. Their idea of salvation through becoming Jews was subversive of the gospel of grace, and so the apostle shows himself intolerant of the false doctrine which was so mischievous. So sure is he of his position that he does not hesitate to denounce with the curse of God any, be they men or angels, who would preach a different gospel from that gospel of Christ's self-sacrifice which he preached. Moreover, if they imagined that to be popular he would trifle with principle, he gave them to understand that he would never, to propitiate public opinion, violate in the least degree his obligation as the slave of Christ.
I. IT IS MARVELLOUS HOW ATTRACTIVE RITUALISM IS TO FICKLE MINDS. (Ver. 6.) Now, by ritualism we mean a plan of salvation by rites and ceremonies. The principle is the same whether the rites and ceremonies are Jewish or mediaeval. It is a substitute for the gospel of grace. Now, Paul marvelled that these Celts in Asia so speedily turned away from the gospel of grace to a gospel of ritual. He wondered at their fickleness. And yet, when we consider the sensationalism which underlies every ritualistic system, we can understand the hold it has upon those constitutionally fickle. Whatever is showy, palpable, and helpful to self-esteem and pride secures the homage of shallow minds. But the sad aspect of this tendency is that it removes souls from God. Every rite and ceremony which is interposed as essential between man and God creates a sense of distance between those whom the gospel would bring nigh. Instead of ritualism tending to intensify communion with God, it can only intensify the superstitious feeling which puts souls at a distance from him.
II. RITUALISM IS A PERVERSION OF THE GOSPEL. (Ver. 7.) For Paul would not admit that the ritualism imported by the Judaizers into Galatia was another gospel; in his view it was no gospel, but a perversion of it. For if I am told I can be saved only by becoming a Jew, by being circumcised, and keeping the Old Testament ritual, and that I cannot be saved by faith alone, I am deprived of the glad tidings which Christ's gospel gives, and projected upon a path of real self-righteousness. It is the same with modern ritualism. Salvation by ceremonies is the antithesis of salvation by grace. It is a perversion of God's good news to man and must result in disappointment.
III. WE OUGHT, LIKE PAUL, TO BE S0 SURE OF THE GOSPEL WE PROCLAIM AS TO BE INTOLERANT OF ANY OTHER. (Ver. 8.) Paul had got such a grasp of the gospel of grace, the self-sacrifice of Christ was so sure and so sufficient a foundation for man's hope, that he could not tolerate any other message. Even should he himself change his views in the course of years and come to Galatia with another gospel, or should an angel from heaven with an aureole of light proclaim another gospel than the one Paul had at first proclaimed, then is the apostle ready to call down upon his perverted self or the perverted angel the curse of God. Now, this intolerant side of truth really springs from the sure grasp we have of it. It is inseparable from intense conviction. Of course, it is quite distinct from the intolerance which dictates persecution. Paul would not persecute; but he would leave the perverts in the hands of God that he might deal with them. Persecution is devoting men to the curse of men; the true intolerance contents itself with leaving the offenders in the hands of a holy and just God.
IV. THE BEING WHO MISLEADS HIS FELLOWS ABOUT SALVATION DESERVES THE CURSE OF GOD. (Ver. 9.) Paul has not been rashly betrayed into intolerance of spirit. He had expressed himself to the same effect on a previous occasion, probably during his second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). He is now prepared to stick to his anathema. He feels in his heart of hearts that the person who trifles with the eternal interests of others and proclaims a false method of salvation deserves the Divine curse. The gospel Paul had preached was the gospel of free grace. No simpler terms of pardon and acceptance can be imagined than are offered in the gospel; it is only devil's work which those persons manage to perform who complicate salvation with rites and ceremonies, making it less easy than God intends. Having regard, then, to the eternal interests at stake, it must be admitted that the deceiver of souls deserves the curse of Heaven. How solemn a responsibility it is to guide men to God! How clear and unmistakable should the plan of salvation be made! How deep the guilt and how dire the doom of those who pervert the gospel!
V. THE SLAVE OF CHRIST WILL NOT BE THE SLAVE OF PUBLIC OPINION. (Ver. 10.) Paul was undoubtedly a man of great breadth of view and sympathy. It was a principle with him to please his neighbour for his good to edification (Romans 15:2). He was ready to become all things to all men in the hope of saving some (1 Corinthians 9:22; 1 Corinthians 10:33). And the Judaizers thought that this pleasing of men on Paul's part would lead him to accept of their ritualism and give up his gospel if their policy was once thoroughly popular. In short, their notion was that Paul was so enamoured of popularity that he would bow to public opinion at all hazards. Now, this is what he repudiates in this last verse. "Do I now," he asks, "win over to myself men or God? Or am I seeking to be an object of man's good will? No; and there is a decisive reason against any such efforts. If I were still pleasing men, if I had not resigned the hope of human favour and of human approval, I should not be the slave of Christ." This leads us into the wide subject of our attitude towards public opinion. Now, our danger undoubtedly is in over-estimating it. Our safety lies in being slaves to Christ. His opinion is to be our one simple concern, and public opinion may coincide with or differ from his, but we must hold firmly by our obligations to the one Master, and all other things will range themselves rightly around us. The uncompromising slave of Christ will be found to be after all the most considerate servant of men. - R.M.E.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you. I.
THE APOSTLE WONDERED THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE TURNED FROM GOD AND THE SAVIOUR. When men turn to God expectations are fulfilled; but when they forsake Him astonishment is excited, because of the mystery of iniquity (Jeremiah 2:12, 13
1. To the Galatians the human agency was the ministry of Paul.
2. There is a reference to the Divine power in the call of God. "Him that called you in the grace of Christ."
II. PAUL WONDERED THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE CHANGED SO SUDDENLY.
III. PAUL MARVELLED THAT THEY SHOULD RENOUNCE THE TRUE FOR THE FALSE, THE REAL FOR THE UNREAL, THE GENUINE FOR THE SHAM.
IV. PAUL WONDERED THAT THEY HAD BEEN SEDUCED BY MEN WHOSE CHARACTERS OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN UNDERSTOOD. Lessons:
1. The will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us should be the subject of our constant meditation.
2. We should beware of teaching that tends to withdraw Christ from our attention and confidence.
3. We should avoid the company of men who, under the pretence of doing us good, only seek to weaken our faith in the gospel.
It is possible to begin in the Spirit, and to end in the flesh; it is possible to be seriously hindered; it is possible to come short of the promise of the grace of God. Clouds sometimes obscure the brightest evening and the sunniest morning. A slight atmospheric change may transform an Alpine ascent from a safe excitement into an imminent peril. It is thus in the natural world; and so is it in the realm of grace. There are numberless causes, arising from the circumstances of external things, or from the inbred and unsubdued corruption of our own traitorous hearts, which may endanger the constancy of the Christian, and cause his goodness to be even as the morning cloud and as the early dew, goodly and sparkling in promise, but, by the fierce heat of the sun, very speedily exhaled.
Luther often, in his books, testified that he was much afraid lest, when he was dead, that sound doctrine of justification by faith alone would die also. It proved so in many places in Germany. Men fell to Popery as fast as leaves fall in autumn. The word here rendered "removed" signifieth properly "transported" or "transplanted." "He alludes," saith , "to the word Galdi, 'to roll,' as if he should say, 'You are Galatians, that is, rolling and changing from the gospel of Christ to the law of Moses.'"
Ye see here how Paul handleth his Galatians, which were fallen away and seduced by the false apostles. He doth not at the first set upon them with vehemence and rigorous words, but after a very fatherly sort, not only patiently bearing their fall, but also in a manner excusing it,. Furthermore, he showeth towards them a motherly affection, and speaketh them very fair; and yet in such sort that he reproveth them notwithstanding, howbeit with very fit words, and wisely framed to the purpose. Contrariwise, he is very hot and full of indignation against those false apostles, their seducers, upon whom he layeth the whole fault; and therefore forthwith, even in the entrance of his Epistle, he bursteth out into plain thunderings and lightnings against them.... So parents, when their child is hurt with the biting of a dog, are wont to pursue the dog only, but the weeping child they bemoan and speak fair unto it, comforting it with the most sweet words.
Towards the misled. He makes a complaint and charge, but through it all the full tones of Compassion and love are heard.
2. Towards the misleaders. Unsparingly stern, even to denouncing a curse. To fall away from the gospel is bad, but to subvert the gospel is worse.
The apostle's earnestness is —
2. Very significant for us.(1) It should withhold us from the reception of any unevangelical doctrine.(2) It should strengthen us in the certainty that the gospel which we have is the true one.
In the first years of a Church, its members are willing to endure hardships, and to make great exertions; but, when once it is prosperous, they desire to take their ease; as one who builds a ship is willing to work all the way from keel to deck until she is launched, thenceforward he expects the ocean to buoy him up, and the winds to bear him on. The youth-time of Churches produces enterprise; their age, indolence. But even this might be borne, did not these dead men sit in the door of their sepulchres, crying out against every living man who refuses to wear the livery of death. I am almost tempted to think that if, with the end of every pastorate, the Church itself were disbanded and destroyed, to be gathered again by the succeeding teacher, we should thus secure an immortality of youth.
How far apostasy is not to be wondered at.
2. How far it is to be wondered at.
An apostatising tendency, or inconstancy, is a radical fault of the human heart.
1. Sluggish and immovable, where it is of moment that it should move and apply itself.
2. So moveable and unsteady, where it should abide firm.
The apostasy of believers is, alas, sometimes a fact.
2. From what does it proceed?
3. How far is it to be remedied?
THE REVOLT. Different kinds of religious revolt.
1. Particular: dissent from some principal doctrines; the ten tribes; the Roman Church.
2. General: renunciation of the name and faith of Christ; Jews; Mahommedans.
3. Under strong pressure; when men compromise the faith from fear of persecution.
4. From obstinacy; as atheists. The Galatian revolt was of the first and third class. They were "carried away" from the doctrine of "grace."
II. THE TIME IT OCCUPIED.
1. A brief period.
2. Showing man's inconstancy in the matter of religion (Hosea 6:4; John 5:35).
3. Pointing a warning to the most privileged.
III. FROM WHAT THEY REVOLTED.
1. From Paul.
2. From the grace of God.
IV. TO WHAT THEY REVOLTED.
1. To false teachers.
2. To another gospel compounded of grace and law.(1) Men are discontented with the pure gifts of God. The Jews, beside the books of Moses, must have the Cabbala; the Papists, beside the written Word, must have tradition; hearers, beside the simple gospel, must have the skill of art and tongue.(2) The other gospel is no gospel at all. There is only one way of salvation. News of another way, therefore, is bud news.
V. THE AUTHORS OF THE REVOLT.
1. They are troublers, because(1) they make divisions;(2) disturb consciences at rest in Christ. Here is the touchstone of heresy. Justification by works is an unbearable yoke (Acts 15:10). So is the teaching that assurance is impossible; so is the dogma of purgatory. The gospel, on the contrary, ends trouble and brings peace and joy (John 15:11; Romans 15:14).
2. They overthrow the gospel of Christ. They did not contest its truth, but, by adding to it, they turned it upside down.
That men should disbelieve the true. and believe the false.
2. That men should forsake the proved and follow the speculative.
3. That men should refuse the possible salvation by faith in favour of earning an impossible salvation by works.
4. That men should reject the balm for a wounded conscience, and accept what can only trouble the conscience.
5. That men should turn away from the ambassador of the gospel, and attach themselves to perverters of the gospel. Yet these marvels are to be witnessed every day.
It was the too quick springing of the good seed on poor and shallow soil; the sudden flaming of fire among natures as light, brittle, and inflammable as straw. The modification of an old religion, the hearty adoption of a new, the combination of an antique worship with one recent and unlike, had already been illustrated in Galatian history As Celts, they had brought with them their old Druidism; yet they had already incorporated with this the wild nature worship of Cybele. But while this Phrygian cult was flourishing at Pessinus, and commanding the services of hosts of mutilated priests, and while at Tavium the main object of worship was a colossal bronze Zeus of the Greek type, at Ancyra was established the Roman deification of the Emperor Augustus. In passing through these capitals, Paul would see the epitome of their history and character, and as he ]had bitter cause to learn, the religious views of the Gauls were more or less a reflex of the impressions of the moment, and their favourite sentiments the echo of the language used by the last comer.
They asserted the exclusive authority of the apostles in Judea (2. Corinthians 11:5; Galatians 2:6
, etc.), a pretension which they would have repudiated, and which Paul makes bold to deny them (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:5
). They claimed themselves further to be the only true disciples of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:12
; 2 Corinthians 10:7
), and in His name imposed, as a condition of salvation, circumcision and all the rites of the law (Galatians 2:3
; Galatians 3:3
; Galatians 4:10, 11
; Galatians 5:2
, etc.; Romans 14:1
, etc.; Philippians 3:2
; Colossians 2:21
, etc.), and they abruptly broke off all intercourse with uncircumcised Christians (Galatians 2:2
), whom Paul had welcomed, and the other apostles recognized, as brethren. Their hatred to Paul was not at all appeased by his heroic sufferings and sublime self-devotion. When the populace of Jerusalem laid homicidal hands upon him, not one of the many myriads of Christians lifted a finger in his defence. Carried to Rome during his two years' anxious imprisonment, he has still reason to complain of those who preach Christ only of contention, thinking to add affliction to his bonds.
If the Judaizers had really believed in the divinity of Jesus, they could not have returned to systems which had died away before the glories of His advent, for that faith would have proved an insurmountable barrier to reactionary yearnings. Their attempt to re-introduce circumcision was a reflection on Christ's finished work, and so, ultimately, on the dignity of His person. They knew not, or heeded not, that they were members of a kingdom in which circumcision and uncircumcision were insignificant accidents, and in which the new creation of the soul was the one matter of vital import. Although they had not denied Christ in terms; He had become of no effect unto them. They had practically rejected the plenary efficacy of Christ's grace, and had implicitly denied that He was greater than Moses; and in opposing them, Paul is the apostolic representative of the cause and work of .
They had apostolic teaching; but beyond that they seem to have been in no respect above, and in many respects below, the level of subsequent ages. If we may judge of their morality by the exhortations they received, Corinth and Thessalonica were but beginners in holiness. If we may judge of their intelligence by the errors into which they fell, they had indeed need that one should teach them which were the first principles of the oracles of God. It could not be otherwise. They were but just rescued from heathenism, and bore the marks of their former bondage. They were like the communities fostered by modern missionaries. The same infantile simplicity, partial apprehensions of truth, danger of being lead astray by the low morality of their kindred, openness to strange heresy, and peril of blending the old with the new in opinion and practice, beset both. The history of the first theological difference in the early Churches is a striking confutation of the dream that they were perfect, and a striking illustration of the dangers to which they were exposed from the attempt, so natural to us all, to put new wine into old bottles.
It is not man climbing to heaven; it is God putting down His hand from heaven and raising him up. It is not man paying God for heaven; heaven is God's free gift to man through Christ. The word "grace" is inscribed on the temple of salvation from the foundation to the top-stone.
We hear much of moving with the age. But the gospel is not to be changed to answer the opinions of any age. The pulpit is to lead the age, and not the age the pulpit. Let ministers, then, preach the gospel, whether men will bear or forbear. The gospel, in all its glorious doctrines, pure morality, and sweet promises, is the one power to save.
Ha is the interjection of laughter; ah, the interjection of sorrow. The difference betwixt them is but small; the transposition of what is no substantial letter, but a bare aspirate. How quickly, in the age of a minute, in the very turning of a breath, is our mirth changed into mourning.
Rowland Hill, in a friend's house, saw a child on a rocking-horse. "Dear me," said the good man, "how wondrously like some Christians; motion, motion, motion, but no progress." Covering sin with fair names
: — Here we may learn to espy the crafty sleights and subtleties of the devil. No heretic cometh under the title of errors and of the devil, neither doth the devil himself come as a devil in his own likeness, but when he forceth men to manifest wickedness, maketh a cloak for them to cover that sin which they commit or purpose to commit. The murderer, in his rage, seeth not that murder is so great and horrible a sin as it is indeed, for that he hath a cloak to cover the same. Whoremongers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, and such other, have wherewith to flatter themselves, and cover their sins. So the devil also cometh out disguised and counterfeit in all his works and devices. In spiritual matter, where Satan cometh forth not black, but white, in the likeness of an angel, or of God Himself, there he passeth himself with most crafty dissimulation, and wonderful sleights, and is wont to set forth to sale his most deadly poison for the doctrine of grace, for the Word of God, for the gospel of Christ. For this cause, Paul calleth the doctrine of the false apostles, Satan's ministers, a "gospel" also, saying, unto another gospel;" but in derision, as though he would say, Ye Galatians have now other evangelists, and another gospel; my gospel is now despised of you; it is now no more in estimation among you.
In "Babbage's Economy of Manufactures," we are told that some years ago a mode of preparing old clover and trefoil seeds, by a process called "doctoring," became so prevalent as to attract the attention of the House of Commons. By this process old and worthless seed was rendered in appearance equal to the best. One witness tried some "doctored" seed, and found that not above one grain in a hundred grew. Is it not to be feared that a "doctored" gospel is becoming very common among us; and if so, it is no wonder that conversions are but few. Only pure truth is living seed.
The dilettante gospel has most attractions, of course, for people of a literary and aesthetic turn of mind. What they seek in the sermons they go to hear is not religion, but (as they are fond of styling it) "the poetry and philosophy of religion." They would be the last to suspect that such a hearing of God's word is superficial; but superficial it certainly is. It is a craving for an external thing which brings them to the church at all. They give to the accidental and unessential the respect which should only be accorded to the message of God. And the hurt to the cause of Christ, in yielding to such cravings, is that it dethrones the fact that God is speaking through the gospel to human souls. Christ is not in all the thoughts of such hearers. The outward construction of the word, its literary or artistic features, its pathos, simplicity, or force — these are canvassed and accepted or refused; but God's message and meaning under all is left standing without. It is hardly possible to overstate the evil to which preaching which panders to this class must lead. For those who indulge in it, the Bible inevitably dwindles down into an uninspired book — at best, a book only more interesting than other books that could be named. The gospel which is proclaimed from its pages — the blessed gospel of the grace of God — passes utterly out of view; and hearers will listen to what is presented to them for a whole lifetime, and yet fail to receive one right-hearted impulse towards the work for which God is sustaining a Church in the world.
They had, in fact, only introduced one or two commandments, circumcision and the observance of days, but he says that the gospel was perverted, in order to show that a slight adulteration vitiates the whole. For as he who but partially pares away the image on a royal coin renders the whole spurious, so he who swerves ever so little from the pure faith soon proceeds from this to graver errors, and becomes entirely corrupted. Let those who charge us with being contentious in separating from heretics, and say that there is no real difference between us except what arises from our ambition, hear Paul's assertion, that those who had but slightly innovated, subverted the gospel. Not that to say that the Son of God is a crested being [as the Aryans did] is a small matter. Know you not that even under the elder covenant, a man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath, and transgressed a single commandment, and that not a great one, was punished with death? and. that Uzzah, who supported the ark, when on the point of being overturned, was struck suddenly dead, because he had intruded upon an office which did not pertain to him! Wherefore if to transgress the Sabbath, and to touch the falling ark, drew down the wrath of God so signally as to deprive the offender of even a momentary respite, shall he who corrupts unutterably awful doctrines find excuse and pardon! Assuredly not. A want of zeal in small matters is the cause of all our calamities; because slight errors escape fitting correction, greater ones creep in. As in the body a neglect of wounds generates fever, mortification, and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones. It is accounted a trivial fault that one man should neglect fasting; that another, who is established in the pure faith, should shrink from its bold profession, and be led by circumstances to dissemble; that a third should be irritated, and threaten to depart from the true faith, is excused on the plea of passion and resentment. Thus a thousand similar errors are daily introduced into the Church, which is divided into as many parties, and we are become a laughing-stock to Jews and Greeks. But if a proper rebuke had at first been given to those who attempted slight perversions, and a deflection from the Divine oracles, such a pestilence would not have been generated, nor such a storm have shaken the Church. You will now understand why Paul calls circumcision a perversion of the gospel. There are many of us now who fast on the same day as the Jews, and keep the Sabbaths in the same manner; and what shall I call our tolerance of this, noble or miserable? Again, many Gentile customs are observed by some among us; omens, auguries, presages, distinctions of days, a curious attention to the circumstances of their children's birth, and, as soon as they are born, tablets with impious inscriptions placed upon their unhappy heads, thereby teaching them from the first to lay aside virtuous endeavours, and drawing them as much as possible under the false domination of fate. But if Christ profits nothing those that are circumcised, how shall faith hereafter avail to the salvation of those who have introduced such corruptions?
But as to the possibility of the mind of man being brought into practical working relations with external certainty, even at some distance in time and place, without claiming infallibility for the interpreter, we may refer to familiar facts, on a much lower plane, for a decisive illustration. At Greenwich Observatory there is an exact and absolutely certain knowledge of the true time of day. This certain knowledge of the time of day is made the basis of the safety and direction of the whole internal traffic of England, and of the direction of our whole navy, and vast commercial marine, on every sea. In the one case the time is transmitted from the infallible clock at Greenwich by telegraph, in the twinkling of an eye, to the extremities of the country, and all the railways sufficiently well set their time by that standard. In the other, the "Nautical Almanac," a book-revelation, notwithstanding all the risks of printing, carries the results of the infallible science of Greenwich to sea in every craft that leaves our shores. There may be occasional and infinitesimal defects in the transmission of the time to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. There may be occasional errors in the printing of the "Nautical Almanac," and occasionally much ignorance and obtuseness in captains and lieutenants in taking observations of the sun and moon; whence errors in the working of the longitude and latitude, and awful catastrophes at sea. But surely no one would hence argue that the endeavour to enforce the infallible rule of Greenwich time upon railways and ship-masters was an interference with the liberties of modern intelligence, or in fact an endeavour which must needs practically fail, through the fallibility, or bad eyesight or arithmetic, of stationmasters and captains. No one would think of telling each such functionary that on the whole, since the use of an infallible authority would involve a claim to infallibility in the nautical observer, it was best for every one to make of the facts of nature what he could, and to guess the hour, each man according to his several ability. And if any of these people set up for rejectors of the message from Greenwich, or said that it required a commentary to make it a safe guide, they would be reckoned somewhat too intelligent for their situations. Now in this parable the Greenwich Observatory corresponds with the apostolic certainty in doctrinal teaching. There may be some risks in the transmission of its message. There may be errors in the attempt to interpret a book-revelation. But on the whole it is true that the apostolic certainty is effectually present, close at hand amongst us, and may be most correctly apprehended, no doubt in different degrees, by those who most simply and intelligently desire to receive its directions The difficulties resemble those which hinder the attainment of scientific certainty in nature. There are some risks in both cases. There are personal equations, as the astronomers say of each observer's eye, to be eliminated; and the abstract difficulty might be made to appear enormous. But the parallel is complete between the laws of sound interpretation of nature and those of the sound interpretation of recorded revelation. And in neither case is it safe to throw overboard the standard of certainty, or to set up for free and independent investigators simply because of minor risks attending the effort to receive the Divine communications. The misfortune is, perhaps, that in religion there are so many more persons whose worldly interests, or intellectual twist, incline them not to see what the apostles wrote, than there are of station-masters and captains who do not desire to know the Greenwich time.
I take it that the gospel cannot be a changeable, variable, shifting gospel, a sort of sliding-scale gospel, because —
1. It is certain that man has not changed. Just to-day man is what he was in the days of Christ and the apostles.
2. I think nobody would have the hardihood to deny it — that truth in the very essence of it must always be the same. A fact, though it happened ten thousand years ago, is as much a fact as if it happened yesterday. Truth must be always the same. "But there is a great advance made," says one. How? In the principles of things — in mathematical science, for instance. Certainly there are great masters of mathematics, and great advances have been made, but upon the principle that two and two are four, and twice three makes six, there has been no advance. A proposal for a new multiplication table would scarcely be entertained even in a board school. No; these fundamental principles stand the same, and so must the fundamental truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which are to all good men's thinking what these tables, these fixed facts in mathematics, are in all calculations. Truth must be the same. It cannot be altered; it is impossible.
3. The gospel is the same, because it was, and is, sufficient for all the purposes for which God sent it. What I mean is this, we want to give the people the gospel more by itself. There is a good story told of Caesar Malan. I should never forget my vision of that grave, reverend man, whom many at thief platform still remember. He was a man of strong idiosyncrasies, and of somewhat singular habits. Going once from Boulogne to Paris, he got into a coach; and he was no sooner seated, than he began reading out a chapter from the Bible. A Frenchman opposite strongly objected, and I think with some reason, as persons in public conveyances should remember that there are other people there. Caesar Malan, however, did not think of that, and he continued to read the chapter, and the Frenchman continued to object. He said he did not believe in the authority of the Bible, and that it was offensive to him to hear it read. At last Caesar Malan's French deacon said, "I think, dear pastor, that I differ from you about your doing this: this gentleman does not believe in the authority of the book, and you ought to prove to him its authority and then read it." Said he, "If I was going out to fight and I bad my sword, and I met somebody on the other side, would you say, 'First prove that you have a sword before you fight?' No; I will prove it is a sword." So he went on reading. He and his deacon supped together, and the waiter came in, and asked whether they were going on the next morning in the coach to Paris, because, he said, that the French gentleman who had ridden with them on the previous day was anxious to ride with Mr. Malan again. He afterwards became a communicant at Caesar Malan's church, and was one of his best friends. It is the Word of God that does it — not our talking about God's Word; it is the Word itself. Quote plenty of Scripture; put plenty of Divine words in. It is God's Word, not man's comments on God's Word, that saves souls. Furthermore, dear friends, we want no improved gospel, because there is nothing that requires that the gospel should be amended.
A friend of mine some time ago bought some coals; and as is natural to coals, having to deal with the earth, being earthy, there were some slates in them, and sitting in the drawing-room, the slates now and then exploded, somewhat to damage a person's eyes. Therefore he said to the coal merchant, "My dear sir, the next lot of coals you sell me, would you mind selling me coals? I know, of course, that some bits of slate will get among them, and I am willing to take a fair proportion; but I should like to have the coals by themselves and the slates by themselves." That is precisely what I would have done with Holy Scripture. We will have so many books inspired — the coals — and so much marked off as being slates. It is a serious thing if you get a bit of slate into your common teaching, and your faith and daily life; you do not know what damage may be done by it.
There is a story told of Waterloo, that a certain regiment had been so set upon by the French that one of their officers wrote to the Duke and said they would be cut in pieces unless help was sent. All that the Duke said was "Stand firm!" and the officer galloped back with the order. Again the soldier said: "It is all up with us, and we shall be destroyed; there are very few of us left even now." Again the officer went to the Duke, and again his order was "Stand firm." They did stand finn and left their bodies on the place; but England was rid of the despot. Oh, sirs, the order to-day is, "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
II.Proceeds from a perversion of the truth.
III.Cannot escape punishment.
IV.Must be unsparingly exposed and condemned.
()I. Matter of fact —they are easily swayed by false opinions and drawn away from God — through ignorance, pride, natural tendency to error.
II. Matter of surprise — we expect better things of those who have received the truth, because it is its own witness — it exposes and condemns error.
III. Matter of regret — it is to grieve God, who has called them; to forfeit the grace of Christ; to trust in another gospel which is not another.
()I.The pretensions of error.
II.The folly of them.
I. There is but one gospel; all others are delusions.
II. The gospel may be perverted by adding to, or taking from it; falsifying its meaning and application; converting it into a system of works or an occasion of license.
III. To pervert the gospel is to destroy it; it is no longer gospel — brings no salvation.
IV. Such perversion brings trouble — to the Church, to the individual.
III.Foolish, because wicked; fatal.
()Religious errors are soul troublers. Like the mystic star of the Apocalypse, which, falling into the waters, turned the peaceful element into turbulence and blood, they stir up the Church into distressing agitations.
()What is meant by this?
(1)The gospel which speaks of Christ;
(2)the gospel which was delivered by Christ; or
(3)the gospel that belongs to Christ?
(4)Does it not combine all these meanings?
()The gospel is the Word of God: Christ is the Word of God. He is the Word containing all words. You need not go to a theologian to learn that religion should be called a gospel: go into the streets; do you not see in wretched faces that a gospel is wanted — good news from God?
()If, at the tent door, the Arab offers to the thirsty passer-by a cup of water, clear, cool, and sparkling in the cup, but in which he has cleverly concealed a painful and deadly poison, he would deserve and receive the anathema of all honest men. Much more terrible shall be the doom of him who, pretending friendship with the souls of men, and offering them in their need, instead of the pure water of life the deadly, poison of false doctrine, shall bring down upon himself the righteous and unerring anathema of God.
PeopleCephas, Galatians, James, Paul, Peter
PlacesCilicia, Damascus, Galatia, Jerusalem, Judea, Syria
TopicsAdhering, Amazed, Astonished, Change, Christ, Christ's, Deserting, Different, Gospel, Grace, Leaving, Marvel, News, Quickly, Readily, Removed, Removing, Sort, Surprised, Thus, Turning, Wonder
Outline1. Paul's greeting to the Galatians;
6. He wonders why they have so soon left him and the gospel;
8. and accurses those who preach any other gospel than he did.
11. He learned the gospel not from men, but from God;
14. and shows what he was before his calling;
17. and what he did immediately after it.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGalatians 1:6
7024 church, nature of
8706 apostasy, warnings
6746 sanctification, means and results
8743 faithlessness, nature of
1615 Scripture, sufficiency
2422 gospel, confirmation
5293 defence, human
7025 church, unity
7756 preaching, content
7760 preachers, responsibilities
8028 faith, body of beliefs
8237 doctrine, false
8316 orthodoxy, in NT
8749 false teachers
8750 false teachings
TO ME it is a pitiful sight to see Paul defending himself as an apostle; and doing this, not against the gainsaying world, but against cold-hearted members of the church. They said that he was not truly an apostle, for he had not seen the Lord; and they uttered a great many other things derogatory to him. To maintain his claim to the apostleship, he was driven to commence his epistles with "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ," though his work was a self-evident proof of his call. If, after God has …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 37: 1891
Answer to Mr. W's Fifth Objection.
5. The consideration that none of these raised persons did or could, after the return to their bodies, tell any tales of their separate existence; otherwise the Evangelists had not been silent in this main point, &c. p. 32. None of these persons, Mr. W. says, told any tales of their separate existence. So I suppose with him. As for the two first: How should they? being only, as Mr. W. says, an insignificant boy and girl, of twelve years of age, or thereabouts. Or if they did, the Evangelists were …
Nathaniel Lardner—A Vindication of Three of Our Blessed Saviour's Miracles
The Epistles of St. Paul
WHEN we pass from primitive Christian preaching to the epistles of St. Paul, we are embarrassed not by the scantiness but by the abundance of our materials. It is not possible to argue that the death of Christ has less than a central, or rather than the central and fundamental place, in the apostle's gospel. But before proceeding to investigate more closely the significance he assigns to it, there are some preliminary considerations to which it is necessary to attend. Attempts have often been made, …
James Denney—The Death of Christ
Institutions of Jesus.
That Jesus was never entirely absorbed in his apocalyptic ideas is proved, moreover, by the fact that at the very time he was most preoccupied with them, he laid with rare forethought the foundation of a church destined to endure. It is scarcely possible to doubt that he himself chose from among his disciples those who were pre-eminently called the "apostles," or the "twelve," since on the day after his death we find them forming a distinct body, and filling up by election the vacancies that had …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
The manner of going to God. * Hearty renunciation. * Prayer and praise prevent discouragement. * Sanctification in common business. * Prayer and the presence of God. * The whole substance of religion. * Self-estimation * Further personal experience. He discoursed with me very frequently, and with great openness of heart, concerning his manner of going to GOD, whereof some part is related already. He told me, that all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything which we are sensible does not …
Brother Lawrence—The Practice of the Presence of God
Exposition of St. Paul's Words, Gal. I. 8.
Exposition of St. Paul's Words, Gal. i. 8. [21.] When therefore certain of this sort wandering about provinces and cities, and carrying with them their venal errors, had found their way to Galatia, and when the Galatians, on hearing them, nauseating the truth, and vomiting up the manna of Apostolic and Catholic doctrine, were delighted with the garbage of heretical novelty, the apostle putting in exercise the authority of his office, delivered his sentence with the utmost severity, "Though we," he …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
A Reasonable Service
TEXT: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."--Romans 12:1. There is perhaps no chapter in the New Testament, certainly none in this epistle, with which we are more familiar than this one which is introduced by the text; and yet, however familiar we may be with the statements, if we read them carefully and study them honestly they must always come to us not only in the …
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot
The Praise of Men.
"They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."--John xii. 43. This is spoken of the chief rulers of the Jews, who, though they believed in Christ's Divine mission, were afraid to confess Him, lest they should incur temporal loss and shame from the Pharisees. The censure passed by St. John on these persons is too often applicable to Christians at the present day; perhaps, indeed, there is no one among us who has not at some time or other fallen under it. We love the good opinion …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain."--1 Cor. xv. 10. We can hardly conceive that grace, such as that given to the great Apostle who speaks in the text, would have been given in vain; that is, we should not expect that it would have been given, had it been foreseen and designed by the Almighty Giver that it would have been in vain. By which I do not mean, of course, to deny that God's gifts are oftentimes abused and wasted by man, which …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII
So Great Blindness, Moreover, Hath Occupied Men's Minds...
43. So great blindness, moreover, hath occupied men's minds, that to them it is too little if we pronounce some lies not to be sins; but they must needs pronounce it to be sin in some things if we refuse to lie: and to such a pass have they been brought by defending lying, that even that first kind which is of all the most abominably wicked they pronounce to have been used by the Apostle Paul. For in the Epistle to the Galatians, written as it was, like the rest, for doctrine of religion and piety, …
St. Augustine—On Lying
Travelling in Palestine --Roads, Inns, Hospitality, Custom-House Officers, Taxation, Publicans
It was the very busiest road in Palestine, on which the publican Levi Matthew sat at the receipt of "custom," when our Lord called him to the fellowship of the Gospel, and he then made that great feast to which he invited his fellow-publicans, that they also might see and hear Him in Whom he had found life and peace (Luke 5:29). For, it was the only truly international road of all those which passed through Palestine; indeed, it formed one of the great highways of the world's commerce. At the time …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The Early History of Particular Churches.
A.D. 67-A.D. 500 Section 1. The Church of England. [Sidenote: St. Paul's visit to England.] The CHURCH OF ENGLAND is believed, with good reason, to owe its foundation to the Apostle St. Paul, who probably came to this country after his first imprisonment at Rome. The writings of Tertullian, and others in the second and third centuries speak of Christianity as having spread as far as the islands of Britain, and a British king named Lucius is known to have embraced the Faith about the middle of …
John Henry Blunt—A Key to the Knowledge of Church History
It is Also Written, "But I Say unto You...
28. It is also written, "But I say unto you, Swear not at all." But the Apostle himself has used oaths in his Epistles.  And so he shows how that is to be taken which is said, "I say unto you, Swear not at all:" that is, lest by swearing one come to a facility in swearing, from facility to a custom, and so from a custom there be a downfall into perjury. And therefore he is not found to have sworn except in writing, where there is more wary forethought, and no precipitate tongue withal. And …
St. Augustine—On Lying
Text: Acts 10, 34-43. 34 And Peter opened his mouth, and said: Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. 36 The word which he sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)--37 that saying ye yourselves know, which was published throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 even Jesus of Nazareth, …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: Colossians 3, 12-17. 12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14 and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the Word …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
Extracts No. vii.
[In this number the objector gives the whole ground of his objections, and the reasons for his doubts: which he states as follows, viz. "1. Mankind, in all ages of the world, have been, and still are prone to superstition. "2. It cannot be denied, but that a part of mankind at least, have believed, and still are believing in miracles and revelation, which are spurious. "3. The facts on which religion is predicated are unlike every thing of which we have any positive knowledge." Under the first …
Hosea Ballou—A Series of Letters In Defence of Divine Revelation
Chrysostom Evades Election to a Bishopric, and Writes his Work on the Priesthood.
About this time several bishoprics were vacant in Syria, and frequent depositions took place with the changing fortunes of orthodoxy and Arianism, and the interference of the court. The attention of the clergy and the people turned to Chrysostom and his friend Basil as suitable candidates for the episcopal office, although they had not the canonical age of thirty. Chrysostom shrunk from the responsibilities and avoided an election by a pious fraud. He apparently assented to an agreement with Basil …
St. Chrysostom—On the Priesthood
The Apostle's Position and Circumstances
PHILIPPIANS i. 12-20 Disloyal "brethren"--Interest of the paragraph--The victory of patience--The Praetorian sentinel--Separatism, and how it was met--St Paul's secret--His "earnest expectation"--"Christ magnified"--"In my body" St Paul has spoken his affectionate greeting to the Philippians, and has opened to them the warm depths of his friendship with them in the Lord. What he feels towards them "in the heart of Christ Jesus," what he prays for them in regard of the growth and fruit of their …
Handley C. G. Moule—Philippian Studies
Epistle Xlv. To Theoctista, Patrician .
To Theoctista, Patrician  . Gregory to Theoctista, &c. We ought to give great thanks to Almighty God, that our most pious and most benignant Emperors have near them kinsfolk of their race, whose life and conversation is such as to give us all great joy. Hence too we should continually pray for these our lords, that their life, with that of all who belong to them, may by the protection of heavenly grace be preserved through long and tranquil times. I have to inform you, however, that I have …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
Jesus' First Residence at Capernaum.
^D John II. 12. ^d 12 After this he went down to Capernaum [The site of Capernaum is generally conceded to be marked by the ruins now called Tel-Hum. Jesus is said to have gone "down" because Cana is among the hills, and Capernaum was by the Lake of Galilee, about six hundred feet below sea level], he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples [There is much dispute as to what the New Testament writers mean by the phrase the "brethren of the Lord." This phrase, found in any other than a …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Indeed in all Spiritual Delights, which Unmarried Women Enjoy...
27. Indeed in all spiritual delights, which unmarried women enjoy, their holy conversation ought also to be with caution; lest haply, though their life be not evil through haughtiness, their report be evil through negligence. Nor are they to be listened to, whether they be holy men or women, when (upon occasion of their neglect in some matter being blamed, through which it comes to pass that they fall into evil suspicion, from which they know that their life is far removed) they say that it is enough …
St. Augustine—On the Good of Widowhood.
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