EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE GALATIANS
THE ARGUMENT. PAUL, having planted several churches in
Galatia, Acts xvi. 6, and xviii, 23, a region of Asia the less; and being now,
as it seemeth, a prisoner at Rome, chap. vi. 17, some false apostles had
seduced these churches from the sincere doctrine of the gospel preached by
Paul, chap. i. 6 ; persuading them that the observation of the Levitical
ceremonies, now abolished, was necessary, chap. vi. 13; and that justification
and salvation were partly from faith in Christ, and partly also from their own
works, chap. iii. 2, and iv. 21; and that Paul was no lawful apostle, no ways
to be compared with the other apostles who had seen Christ in the flesh, (as
may be gathered from chap. ii. 6, 9,) and therefore his doctrine was but false.
Upon which occasion, the apostle writeth unto them this epistle: wherein his scope is to convince those Galatians of their errors; to reduce them to the right way; to confirm them in the truth, and to press upon them the duties of a holy life, chap. iii. and iv. &c. which he laboureth to effectuate (after prefacing, to ver. 6, chap. i.):
First, by asserting the truth of the gospel preached by him, and the authority of his own apostleship, to ver. 15, of chap. ii, Secondly, by vindicating the true doctrine of justification by faith, and of the temporary use and abrogation of the Levitical law, and of the whole legal dispensation of the covenant of grace, to the end of chap. iv.
Thirdly, by instructing them in the right use of Christian liberty, having exhorted them to stand to it, and pointing out, and pressing upon them the exercisc of several Christian virtues, to ver. 11 ol chap. vi.; from whence he concludeth the epistle to the end of chap. vi.
CHAPTER 1. IN the first part of this chapter, is the preface to the whole epistle, containing the party who did write it, ver. 1, 2 ; the party to whom it was written, ver. 2; the salutation, ver. 3; a description of Jesus Christ from the work of redemption, ver. 4; and a thanksgiving to God for this work, ver. 5.
In the second part, he reproveth the Galatians for their defection from the gospel, ver. 6, to errors which did overturn it, ver. 7.
In the third part, that be may justify this reproof, he asserteth the divine authority of the gospel preached by him,
First, by cursing those who should hold out another gospel, differing from it, ver. 8, 9.
Secondly, from the scope of his doctrine, and his aim in preaching it, ver. 10.
Thirdly, because both the first saving knowledge which he had of the gospel, and his office to preach it, were immediately from God, aud not from men, whether apostles or auy other, ver. 11, 12, whereof he giveth several evidences; as first, that ever until the instant of his conversion, he was a learned, but persecuting Pharisee, ver. 13, 14.
Secondly, that being miraculously converted and called, he went presently with no small pains and hazard to discharge his apostolic office, without instruction or authority received from any apostle, ver. 1517.
Thirdly, that after three years he went to Peter, hot aot to be informed by him, or to receive ordination from him, or from any other apostle, ver. 18, 19. The truth of all which history he confirmeth by an oath; ver. 20.
Fourthly, that he preached as an apostle in Syria and Cilicia, with the approbation of the Christian Jews, whom formerly he had persecuted, ver. 2124.
1. Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;
2. And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
In these two verses is the inscription of the epistle, holding forth, 1. Who did write it, to wit, Paul, described from his office, and his call to that office, which were both wholly divine, as being immediately from God, ver. I. And the brethren with him ; such were eminent professors, but especially public preachers, who then were with Paul, and did give their testimony to those truths contained in this epistle, thongh they were not the immediate penmen of the Holy Ghost in it, as Paul was.
2. To whom the epistle was written, ver. 2. From ver. I, learn,
1. Free-grace doth often light upon the most unworthy, not only by giving grace and salvation to themselves, but also making them sometimes instrumental for the kingdom of Christ, and for bringing abont the salvation of others: for Paul, once a wicked persecutor, I Tim. i. 13, is now made an eminent apostle; Paul an apostle.
2. Faithful and called ministers of Jesus Christ, are to be so far from cowardly ceding, or heartless fainting under the bold, hitter, and unjust aspersions of those who would labour to question their calling, and thereby weaken their authority, and render the truth of their doctrine doubtsome, Matt. xxi. 23, that they ought so mnch the more, for the credit of their office, Rom. xi. 13, and for the truths sake which they preach, I Cor. vii. 25, avow their calliog against all who do question it. Thus Paul, writing to these Galatians amongst whom, by means of the false apostles, his anthority was questioned more than in any other church, chap. ii 6, 9, &c. expresseth himself more largely in avowing his call to the apostolic office, than in any other epistle: not only affirming that he was called by Jesus Christ, and God the Father; but also denying that he was an apostle of men, or by man.
3. The apostolic office had this common to it with all other church.offices, whether ordinary or extraordinary, Eph. iv. 11, that it was not the invention of man, or founded upon authority merely human, but was instituted by Jesus Christ, to whom only it appertaineth to appoint office-hearers in his house, I Cor. xii. 28, for which respect, Paul affirmeth he was an apostle not of man, as the ambassadors and officers of princes and states are: ministers are ambassadors for Christ, representing him, and having their authority from him, 2 Cor. v. 20.
4. The office of an apostle had this peculiar unto itself, that the designation of the person to nndergo that office, was not mediately by the election and suffrages of men, as it is in the calling of ordinary office-bearers, Acts xiv. 23, but immediately from God; so that the function of the apostles ceased with them, and did not pass by succession to a pope or any other: for in this respect, Paul affirmeth he was an apostle, not by rote, to wit, mere man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father. He was called immediately by God, Acts ix. 15. 5. That Jesus Christ is not mere man but God also, appeareth from this, that the apostle opposeth Christ to man, and so he behoved to be more than man: and this was not an angel, Heb. ii. 16, and - therefore he was also God; Neither by man, saith he, to wit, mere man, but by Jesus Christ.
6. When Scripture ascribeth an action to the Father, the first person of the blessed Trinity, as done by him, it is not to be so understood, as if the Son and Holy Ghost were excluded from having hand in that action; but that they are rather included in the Father, as persons of the some godhead: for the calling of the ministers of the gospel, which is ascribed to God the Father, is ascribed to the Holy Ghost, Acts xx. 28 and Paul, who is here said to be called by the Father, is by the Holy Ghost sent forth unto a particular calling, Acts xiii. 2, 4; and the raising of Christ from the dead, in like manner ascribed to God the Father here, is ascribed to Christ. John x. 18, and to the Holy Ghost, Rom. viii. 1 And God the Father, who raised him from the dead.
All the external actions of the Godhead towards the creatures, are common to the whole Trinity, John v. 19; so that the ascribing of actions to the Father, is not as if any of them were not concurring, but because of the order of working, which is among the three Persons; the Father being the first fountain of working, ordering all things from himself, 1 Cor. viii. 6; by, the Son, 1 Cor. viii. 6; and Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. xiz. 6, 8 ; because of this order, those actions which are common to the whole Trinity are frequently ascribed unto the Father.
7. As Jesus Christ who hath life in himsel4 John v. 26, and is the fountain of life unto others, John vi. 33, was once among the dead; so he was raised again by the power of the Father from death unto life, and is alive for evermore; Amen, Rev. i. 18, it being impossible that he should he holden by death, Acts ii. 24; and divine justice having received full satisfaction from him for all which he undertook to do or suffer, John xvi. 10. Who raised him from. the dead, saith he.
8. So blinded are men usually with preposterone zeal towards their erroneous opinions, that frequently they do allege those things for to uphold them, which of all other things are most contrary unto them: thus the false aiiostles, that they might shake the truth preached by Paul, and establish their own contrary error, did allege that he was no lawful apostle, as for other reasons, so it would seem mainly for this; because he had not seen Christ in the flesh, 1 Cor. ix. 1; nor yet was called before his death; and that therefore his doctrine was not to be much regarded: which reason Paul doth here refute, by showing he was called by Christ, after he was raised from the dead, and had taken possession of his glorious kingdom; leaving unto them to gather, that therefore his calling had at least no less dignity and glory in it than if he had been called by Christ when he was here upon the earth, in the days of his flesh;
And God the Father, who raised him from the dead. From ver. 2, learn,
1. The more they are wholesome God maketh need of to hold out the beauty of truth and holiness unto us, that we may embrace and follow it; or, the deformity and danger of error and vice, that we may fly from, hate, and abhor it; we are the more to take heed how we reject or embrace, despise or obey what is so pressed upon us; as knowing there will be the more to bear witness of our guilt, and subscribe to the equity of Gods judgment against us, if we obey not, Luke ix. 5; for, Paul doth join the consent of all the brethren who were with him, unto what he writeth; that so his doctrine and reproofs might have the more weight; And all the brethren which are with me.
2. Tbongh the sins of a church, whether in doctrine or manners, are not to he reputed as on sins by us, because they are connived at, pleaded for by a church, Jer. v. 31; and though the sins of churches are to be pleaded against by private Christians in their places and stations, so far are they to be from following of a multitude to do evil, Exod. xxiii. 2; yet we arm not so to stumble at the many sinful failings, yea, gross enormities, which may be in churches relating either to faith or manners, as presently to unchurch them, by denying them to be church, or to separate from them, by refusing to keep communion with them in lawful and commanded ordinances, being purely administered according to the prescript of Gods word; chiefly if their error be not contrary to fundamental truths, or at least if they err of human frailty, and not obstinately or avowedly. For the churches of Galatia had made a grievous revolt, even from a fundamental truth, ver. 6, and chap. iii. 1, and yet, because they were rather through frailty seduced by others, than active seducers of others, therefore he useth much meekness and moderation towards them, allowing them the name of churches, and exercising his apostolic care towards them as a part of his charge, and thereby keeping communion with them, as with churches which were sickly and under cure;
"Unto the churches of Galatia:
which truth makes nothing against our separation from the Church of Rome, as being after much pains taken in order to their reclaiming, and not until we were driven to it by persecution; besides that the Romish Church had erred in the foundation obstinately and avowedly.
Verse. 3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Here is the salutation, wherein he wisheth unto them Gods gracious favour and good-will, whereby he is well pleased with the elect, in and for Christ, Rom. iii. 24; and peace, that is, first, peace of conscience, and with God, Rom. v. 1
Secondly, peace with the creatures, as with the angels, Col. i. 20; with the godly, Isa. xi. 9; with ourselves, all within us being conformed to the rule of the renewed mind, Rom. viii. 1; and in some respect with our enemies, Prox. xvi. 7; and with the beasts of the field, Hos. ii. 15.
Thirdly, prosperity and good success, Psa. cxxii. 7. All which he seeketh from God the Father as the fountain of grace, and from Jesus Christ as the conduit or pipe to convey grace from the Father unto us. John i. 16.
1. Gods gracious favour and good-will is to be sought by us in the first place, whether for ourselves, Psa. iv. 6, or others: that being a most discriminating mercy betwixt the godly and the wicked, Eph. i. 6; and a mercy which of any ther bringeth maniest mercies along with it. Yea, all things are mercy to a Sion who hath obtained that mercy, Rom. viii. i .3; for, the apostle wisheth for grace unto them frst; Grace and peace.
2. Peace also is to be sought, even peace with thd, peace with the creatures, together with pnsperity and good success; but withal, peace is to he sought after grace, and not to be expected before it. Peace without grace, is no peace: there can be no peace with God, no sanctified peace with the creatures, nor sanctified prosperity or success to our undertakings, except through Jesus Christ we lay hold on Gods favour and grace; yea, there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God. Isa. lvii. 21. Thus the apostle wisheth unto them also peace, but so as it flow from grace; grace and peace.
3. Grace and peace are such, as we cannot acquire unto ourselves by onr own industry or pains: they come from God, are to be sought from him, and his blessing is more to be depended upon for attaining of any thing which cometh under the compass of grace and peace, than our own wisdom, industry, or diligence; so Paul seeketh Grace and peace from God the Father.
4. Whatever favour we seek from God, we are to seek it also from Jesus Christ as mediator: for he hath purchased it, Eph. i. 7. He is appointed Lord of his own purchase to bestow all, Acts v. 31, and there is no coming to, or trysting Some are sharply rebuked, as when the sins nf others equally guilty for by-respects are wholly connived at, usually no person heareth for it therefore, Paul, that the judgment denounced may have the more weight with others, exempteth nor himself, if so he should he found guilty of the sin against which he threateneth, Though, saith he, even I, Paul, or any other of the apostles, preach any other doctrine, &e.;
7. As people when they discern any excellences or perfections, whether in gifts or graces, in ministers, are ready to take upuu trust whatever they deliver so nothing of that kind should make faith to what they preach, if it he not founded upon the word of truth: the first of these is supposed, the other more directly expressed, where he saith, If we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed.
8. The authority of the gospel and written word, is far above the authority of the most trustworthy men ; yea, and of this glorified angels : so that neither men nor angel, church or any other, can add any authority to it, as though without the testimony of those it had not sufficient authority in itself, 2 Pet. i. 19 and from God the author of it, 2 Tim. iii. 16, to give faith unto it; neither can they detract any thing from its authority, though they should all in one voice contradict it, as it appeareth from this impossible case, supposed by the apostle Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.
Ver. 9. "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed".
That the apostle may show what he spoke proceeded neither from rage nor harshness, he doth again denounce the former terrible curse more generally against all whosoever guilty of the aforementioned sin.
Doctrines. 1. Such is the incapacity of mens mind to understand the things of God, Eph. iv. 18 ; the imbecility and weakness of their memories to retain and carefully keep, Heb. 11. 1; yea, such is the deadness, slowness, and averseness of the will and affections, from embracing and giving entertainment to saving truths at first when they are offered, Zech. vii. ii; that weighty and necessary truths are not only once to be frequently to be inculcated by faithful ministers, especially fundamental truths, Phil. iii. 1; and of daily use and practice, 2 Pet. i. 12 ; which frequent inculcating of one and the sure thing, must flow not from laziness, but from the zeal of God, respect to and compassion for the peoples necessity forr Paul doth inculcate and again repeat this necessary and fundamental truth, that the doctrine of the apostles and in consequence their writings, 1 John 1. 1, have divine authority, and are thoroughly sufficient for salvation, without any mixture of hum,an frailties or traditions added to them: "As I said before, so say I now again"
2. Though zeal for God and truth, with fervency in the delivery of truth, chiefly in the reproof of sin, Isa. ii iii. 1, be required in a minister, yet he is carefully to guard, lest, under pretence of zeal, he vent his inconsistencies and shy passions, or lest he give any ground for people to conceive so of him: for Paul guardeth against this, by repeating advisedly what he had presently spoken; "As I said before, so say I now again.
3. It is not enough for the salvation of peoples souls, to have the gospel preached in purity among them, except it he also received by them, as labouring to understand the purpose of it, Acts viii.3,: giving an assent unto the truth of it in their understanding also, and enbracing the good things offered by it in their heart and after affactions, 1 Tim. i. 13: for, whereas, Paul said they are accursed who teach otherwise than he had preached, here he saith, "they are accursed who preach otherwise than they had received;" whereby it appeareth, as Paul had preached the gospel of Christ, so the Galatians received it, to wit, the whole bulk of church menbers come to age, the two first ways mentioned in the doctrine, and sincere believers among them in the last way.
Ver. 10. "For, do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
There is a second argument, proving the divine authority of the gospel, which Paul had preached to those Galatians, taken partly from the scope of his doctrine, which was not to persuade men, that is, (by a necessary ellipsis and a construction somewhat unusual.) he did not by this doctrine persuade men to be heard and obeyed (as thess false apostles, who did always inculcate the authority of men upon the hearers, that hereby they might gain credit to their doctrine;) but the drift of his doctrine was to draw men to God, persuading God, that is. to be heard and obeyed; that so the faith of the hearers might rely only upon the authority of God, and not partly from the scope of the preacher, Paul himself; which was not to hunt after the favour of men (as the false apostles did press the legal ceremonies, that they might hereby gain the applause of; and decline persecution from the Jews, Gal. vi, 12 ;) but his aim was singly to approve himself to God, however men should esteem him, (Cor. ii .3), and withall, giving a reason, inducing him to be thus sincere and single, to wit, if he should set himself to hunt after the favour of men, as he did when he was a Pharisee, he could not be an approved servant of Christ, but of those whose favour he studied to gain
Doctrines, 1, The Faithful servants of Jesus Christ, beside their many other sufferings, must resolve to suffer somewhat sometimes in their credit and estimation from those who, being set on by spirit of spite and malice, will spread sinistron reports in secret of honest ministers; the truth whereof they dare not avow or publicly stand to when they are put to it, and have fair opportunity to do it if they could: for it appeareth Pauls adversaries had been secretly whispering, as if the scope of his doctrine had been to set up his own authority and testimony in the points controverted, not only above the other apostles, whom they falsely boasted of to have favoured them (as is collected from chap. ii. 6,) but also about the authority of God speaking in the old testament, and that he was not constant to himself sometimes disproving circumcision, and sometimes approving it, chap. v. 11, as he might best please the humours of men with whom he had to do and Paul wipeth off these calumnies, not by positive denial of any truth to be in them, but by interrogations and questions; which, as they serve for strong negations of the things questioned, according to the use of Scripture, 1 Sam. xii. 3; so they in a manner provoke the adversary to assert the thing questioned for truth, if he be able: for Do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men?
2. Though the ministers of Jesus Christ may make use of human authority as a secondary proof and testimony unto the truth, already proved to be truth from the word of God, and chiefly towards those with whom the testimony of such will have most weight, Acts xvii. 28 yet the authority and writings of men, or of any man whatsoever, are not to be rested upon as the first and main proof of any religious truth; neither are they, especially in preaching, to be always inculcated, and promiscuously, unto every sort of hearers; lest thereby the faith of people he brought to rely on the authority of men; for this is to persuade men, to wit, to be chiefly heard, as the supreme judges of religions truths, which Paul denieth to have been his practice; Do I now persuade men?"
3. That doctrine only, the truth whereof is grounded upon divine testimony, and Thus saith the Lord, is to be received in the church, as that which men may safely venture their eternal well-being on, 1 Cor. iii. 1215, and which God will own for his, Acts xv. 24 ; for Paul proveth that the doctrine preached by him was the only true gospel of Jesus Christ, because thereby he did persuade God, to wit, to be heard and obeyed, and his authority only to be stood to, as appeareth by the causal particle, for: For do I now persuade men, or God ? The first part of the question hath the force of a denial; the second of a vehement affirmation, as if he had said, I do not persuade men, but God.
4. It is not enough that a minister preach nothing to people but that which is the truth of God; he must also preach truth sincerely, not concealing any part of necessary truth, or misapplying truth so as that thereby be may please the sinful affections, humours, and dispositions of men, but aiming singly to approve himself to God in doing of his duty, 2 Cor. ii. 17. Thus Paul denieth that his aim in preaching was to please men : Or do I seek to please men
5. As true conversion doth work a real change in a man from what be once was in his unconverted state, 2 Cor. v. 17, so particularly in this, that where before he did prostitute his gifts and parts; yea, his very conscience to the slavery of mens sinful humours whom he conversed with, and by pleasing of whom he did expect any profit, credit, or contentment, John v. 44; he will not now abase himself, or dishonour God by doing so any more: thus was it with Paul, For if I yet pleased men;" where he insinuateth that formerly, and while he was a Pharisee, he did please men, but he would do so no more.
6. Though the minister of Jesus Christ ought not to set himself of purpose, and without necessity, to displease men, or, by his imprudent disobliging carriage, to irritate and stir up their corruptions, (for hereby the word in his mouth should be made unsavoury unto them,) and though be ought to endeavour the pleasing of all men by eschewing any thing which may be just ground of offence to them, 2 Cor. vh. 2, by retrenching or enlarging himself in the use of his Christian liberty in things indifferent, as be may he least offensive unto them, 1 Cor. x. 32, 33, and as he may gain most upon them, 1 Cor. ix. 2022, and by accommodating himself in his public preaching to the case, capacity, and state of all, by assigning unto every one what is competent, 1 John ii. 12, 13, and so is to please men for their good to edification, Rom. xv. 2; yet, there is a way of pleasing men, most sinful and base, especially in a minister, and which is inconsistent with fidelity in Christ's service, to wit, when he concealeth any necessary truth, which he is otherwise called to deliver; lest be displease men, 1 Kings xxii. i3, 14, when his highest aim is to gain applause from men, 2 Cor. iv. 5, and generally when be is so timorously disposed, as to venture rather upon the displeasure of God, by omitting any part of his duty, than to irritate and displease the sinful humonrs of men, by faithfulness in the discharge of his calling, Acts iv. 10. A minister who setteth himself so to please men, and who resolveth not in these respects to meet with the displeasure of some men, cannot be a faithful servant to Jesus Christ; for a man cannot serve two masters. Matt.vi. 24. If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
7. A faithful servant of Jesus Christ will prize his acceptation with Christ, his being approved of him, and the testimony of a good conscience for fidelity in his service, more than all the favour, countenance, applause, or any advantage flowing from these, which be can receive from men; and before he hazard the loss of the former, he will rather a thousand times embrace with gladness the most certain loss of the latter: for Paul maketh this an argnment why he did not seek to please men; because that hereby he should lose the approbation of Christ, For, if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Ver.. 11. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ"
The apostle addeth a third argument, to prove the divinity of that gospel which he h bad preached whereby he asserteth also his own lawful call to be an apostle, which was questioned by his adversaries, affirming (as it appeareth from his so much insisting to demonstrate the contrary from chap. i ver. 13 to chap. ii. ver. 15) that he was no apostle, but some ordinary preacher, who had received the doctrine of the gospel at the second hand only and having so received it, had now himself corrupted it, contrary to what was taught by the other apostles, James and Cephas, of whose authority and patrociny his adversaries did falsely boast, whereby they created a prejudice in the minds of those Galatians, both against Pauls person and his doctrine, which be wipeth off, while he prosecuteth this argument at large. And, in the first place, be propoundeth the argnment as a thing known, at least which could not be contradicted, to wit, that the gospel preached by him was not after man, ver. 11; that is, as he explaineth presently, he neither received it of man, or, be received not his office to teach and preach the gospel from any mere man, and so was no ordinary preacher; Neither was he taught it by man, that is, the knowledge which he had of the gospel, was not by any ordinary mean or instruction from men, and so he had it not at the second hand, but it was immediately revealed to him by Jesus Christ; and therefore behoved to be divine, ver. 12.
Doctrines. 1. It is the part of a faithful and prudent minister by loving and affectionate insinuations to bear himself in upon the affections of people, even though deeply prejudicate against him, so long as there is any hope of gaining them: for thus doth Paul to these Galatians, while he calleth them brethren.
2. It is the usual custom of heretics and adversaries of truth, when they have nothing to say in reason against the doctrine itseg to cast reproach upon the persons of those who preach it, and especially to question their call and authority to preach; that so they may indirectly at least reflect upon the doctrine which they preach. So do the Papists now against the ministers of the reformed churches, and so did the false apostles then against Paul, as we cleared in giving the sense of the words, and appeareth from his asserting his call to be an apostle : It is not after men, neither received I it from man.
3. When subtle wits do thus puzzle the people of God by such diversions from the main purpose, and by arguments which do not directly strike at the truth in question; it is nevertheless the part of Christs able and faithful ministers to take off those indirect prejudices, by showing how groundless they are; and particularly they are not only to clear the truth of the doctrine, but also their own call from God to preach that doctrine: for so doth Paul here, and to the end of the chapter: Now I certify you, brethren, &c.;
4. As none may take upon him to dispense the word of God publicly unto others, without a lawful call from God to do it, Rom. x;15; so there are several sorts of callings, one, of men, asd ordinary, when God calleth by the voices and consent of men, following the laws of the word-, 2 Tim. ii 2; another, of God, and extraordinary, when He doth call immediately, the call of the church not intervening, John xx. 21, for Paul doth not preach until he received the office to preach, and this not of man, in the ordinary way; and so of God extraordinarily; For neither received I it of man, saith he.
5. They who are to teach others, are first to be taught themselves, to wit, ordinary preachers by ordinary means, whereby they may be enabled by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers, Tit. i. 9 The priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, Mal. ii. 7 ; for, as Paul received an office to preach the gospel; so he was taught and instructed in the gospel: I neither received it, neither was taught it, but by revelation.
6. It was required to the office of an apostle, that the person called to it should have the infallible knowledge of the truth of the gospel, and this not wholly by the help of human means, as we do now learn knowledge at schools of learning, and by our own private study, but also and mainly by immediate inspiration from the Spirit of God: for Paul showeth that the gospel was not taught him of man ; and this he saith, not to depress human learning, and the knowledge of divine mysteries, which we attain unto by time help of learned men, and of their writings, this being the ordinary way of attaining knowledge now, 1 Tim. iv. 13; 2 Tim. ii. 2; but, that hereby he may obviate the calumny of his adversaries, who alleged he had the knowledge of the gospel by ordinary instruction from men only, and so was no apostle: Neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; that is, it was immediately revealed unto him by Christ
7. And this that Christ is opposed unto man, doth point at his Deity. See ver. 1, Doct. 5.
Ver. 13. "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past, in the Jews religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:"
14. And profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Because the argument presently mentioned is most weighty, therefore the apostle doth at large prosecute it, and giveth in this chapter four evidences of the truth of what he asserted in it, to wit: That neither the knowledge which he had if the gospel was from human persuasion, or by ordinary means; nor yet his call to preach the gospel was from the suffrage of men, or any authority conveyed by man; but both of them were immediately from God. The first evidence, relating mainly to the first branch of the assertion, is, the hostile mind which he carried against the Christian church while he was a Pharisee, Acts :xvi. 5, in persecuting and making havoc of it, - ver. 13, together with the great measure or knowledge he had in that religion which he did then profess; and of abilities to defend it beyond many of these who were equal in age with him, and his zeal and fervour for his religion, and the worst part of it, to wit, unwritten traditions received from their fathers, without any ground in the written word of God, Math xv. 3, 9. All which he speaketh as of a thing publicly known, ver. 14, leaving them to gather hence, that his so sudden change, from being so zealous, so deeply engaged, and every way so able a persecutor, to embrace the Christian religion, could not flow from human persuasion, or any ordinary means, but immediately from God.
Doctrines. 1. It is a matter of no small difficulty, yea, and in an ordinary way almost impossible, for a man, deeply engaged in a course of error, having shown himself active for it, and endued with ability to defend it, to be reclaimed from his error, to embrace the way of truth: for Paul maketh his so deep engagements to the Pharisaical errors, an evidence that his sudden change to Christianity did not flow from any ordinary means, but was wrought immediately by God: For ye have heard, &c.;
2. A sincere convert will not shun to make an open and ingennous confession of his wicked life, not omitting any thing which may tend to the just aggravation of it: and this not in a boasting or a rejoicing manner, James iv. 16, but that hereby the freedom of Gods grace may be commended, 1 Tim. i. 13, 14; and that other vile sinners, in their own eyes lost, may have encouragement from Gods dealing with him to believe on Christ for life everlasting, I Tim. i. 16; and that Gods honour one way or other may be thereby brought about: for Paul doth ingenuously confess here, that in time past he had persecuted the church of God extremely, and wasted it " that he may thereby make evident that his conversion flowed from the immediate and extraordinary work of God, and so stopped the month of those who were adversaries to truth.
3. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were indited by the Spirit of God, and that the penmen thereof were not acted with human policy, but immediately inspired by that inerring Spirit, appeareth from this, jointly with other evidences held forth in Scripture itself, that they concealed not their own faults, but blazed them to the world when the glory of God did so require, as Paul doth here; Beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, saith he.
4. This open and ingenuous confession of our bypast wicked life, is to be extended only unto sins already known, that hereby the public offences may he removed; but not to the making notorious of such evils as have been kept secret from the knowledge of others, the divulging whereof would but multiply scandals and stumbling blocks, for Paul confesseth only what they had already heard; "Ye have heard of my conversation in time past"
5. There is no particular church on earth, though never so famous for, and orthodox in, the point of religion, who may not so far degenerate from what they once were, as that religion both for doctrine and worship may be wholly corupt, from which those who would be saved must deliver themselves quickly, and which God will not own for His, as not being prescribed by him, but will father it on those who profess it as their religion, and as invented bby them: thus the Jews, once right in their point of religion had now in Paul's time so far corrupted religion in the doctrine of justification, of the Trinity, of manners, or of the moral law, as if it required nothing but external obedience Matt. v-v11 in asserting the authority of unwritten traditions, and in worshipping God according to these, and rejecting Jesus Christ, the promised Messias, I Thess. 11:15, that Paul seeth a necessity to quit that religion, calling it theirs, not God's "My conversation in times past in the Jew's religion"
6. Crosses, afflictions and persecutions from wicked men, are the ordinary lot of god's church and people, and the reason of that emnity which is betwixt the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, Ge. iii:15, together with Satan's malice against the church, and his prevalent power over wicked men, whereby he inciteth and draweth them onby such inducements as he knoweth will be most prevalent with the different tempers of those who are acted by him, John xii 6 compared with Matt.xxvi. 15 to be executioners of that his rage and malice, Rev.20: 7-8, and because of god's tolerance and permission, that whereby his church may be tried, every one, whether bad or good, being made to appear what they really are, Dan xi:32, and that by the sufferings of his people, the way of truth may be made more lovely, further spread, and more mbraced by others, Acts. viii:4-6 etc. and that they may be also corrected for their bypast sins, as abused peace and prosperity, and that hereby also they may be restrained from many sins in time coming, and this either by removing the opportunity of such sins through the rod, or by renewing the hearts of many through sanctifying grace, a greater measure whereof is bestowed usually upon his people under persecution and affliction than at any other time, thus "Paul persecuted the church of God extremely"
7. Though the church of god, as to the inward estate thereof, which standeth in election and the fruits of saving grace flowing therefrom, cannot be utterly wasted, neither can the outward state of the visible church be so far decayed as that the visible church should altogether cease to be, at least in all places, yet the Lord may so far give way to the rage of the persecutors, for the reasons mentioned in the former doctrine, as that thereby the outward face and beauty of the visible church shall be totally marred, the members thereof being partly killed, partly scattered,, the public ordinances of divine worship being altogether for a time suppressed, and the public assemblies of the church interrupted. Thus "Paul wasted the church" the word signifieth the devastation of lands, burning of houses, and utter depopulation of countries, which used to be accomplished by an enraged prevalent enemy; I wasted it.
8. The church of God may expect to meet with persecution and sufferings, not only from men avowedly wicked and openly flagitious, but also from others, whose carriage is smooth, free from scandal, and in all things, according to that false way of religion which they profess, blameless: Satan laboureth most to have such engaged and such being once engaged, are most bitter and implacable persecutors, as having some respect to conscience in other things, and being acted in this from the principles of a deluded conscience, John xvi. 2, which, of all other ties, doth most strictly bind, and most effectually drive forward to fulfil its dictates, especially in things of religious concernment; for, Paul, who profited in the Jews religion above his equals, and was exceedingly zealous, did persecute the church. Acts xiii. 50.
9. The life and way of some who are engaged in a false religion, may be so blameless, and, according to the dictates of their deluded conscience, so strict, as that it may be a copy unto those who profess the true religion, and a reproof to many such for their palpable negligence: so was Pauls way, while be was a Pharisee, even such as may serve for a copy unto Christians to walk by in several things; as, first, to be active in spreading the true religion in our places and stations, and bearing down of contrary errors, as he was in persecuting the Christian church; because it was opposite to the Jewish religion professed by him. Secondly, that what we do in religion, or for God, We do it not negligently, but with all our might, EccI. ix. 10, and to the uttermost of what our power can reach, as he did persecute the church, not lazily, but above measure, or extremely. Thirdly, that we labour to profit, advance and grow in religion, both as to the knowledge of truth contained in it, Heb. vi. 1, and practise according to those truths, 2 Pet. i. 5, as he profited in the Jewish religion. Fourthly, that in the matter of growth, there be an holy emulation and strife with others; that we may outstrip them, as he profited above many of his equals. Fifthly, that we be zealous for our religion, as having love to it, and to the honouring of God whether by ourselves or others according to it, Acts xv. 3, together with grief and anger when God is dishonoured and religion wronged, John ii. 1517, as Paul was zealous of the traditions of his fathers : for zeal hath in it a mixtore of love and anger.
10. As love to the honour of God may engage a man sometimes to speak to his own commendation; so there would be that modesty and sobriety of spirit, as it may appear he doth not speak from arrogancy or pride, and that he seeketh not his own commendation in speaking: for Paul commendeth his own diligence and abilities, that thereby be may commend free grace, which delivered him out of that state, but with great modesty: for he saith not, he profited more than all, but more than many; and not, more than his superiors, but, more than his equals, to wit, for time and age, and those not in all the world, but of his own nation. ii. As our affections of joy, love, hatred, anger, and grief, are by nature so corrupt, Eph. ii. a, that even the choicest of them, if they be not brought in subjection to the word by the Spirit of God, will lay forth themselves rather upon forbidden and unlawful objects, than that which is warrantable and commanded by the Lord: so our zeal and fervency of spirit, in particular, will bend itself more toward the maintenance of error, than of truth: for error is the birth of our own invention, Gal. v. 20, and hath the rise from some unmortified lust within, which it doth gratify, 2 Tim. iv. 3; as is not truth: thus Paul showeth that his zeal tended more to maintain it that part of the Jewish religion which was unwarrantable, to wit, the unwritten traditions, than all the rest of it; And was much more zealous of the traditions of my fathers, saith he.
Vers. 15. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him amoug the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem, to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Here is a second evidence of the truth of what he formerly asserted, ver. ii, 12, to wit, that as God in his providence had been making way, both in Pauls birth and education, for that which he had purposed to employ it in; so when it pleased :God at the time of his gracious and effectual calling, ver. 15, to make Christ, and the doctrine of redemption by Christ, known unto him by extraordinary and immediate revelation, Acts ix. 4, that as an apostle, immediately called by God, ver. 1, he might publish the knowledge of Christ among the Gentiles; he was so much persuaded of his immediate call from God, that he did not debate the matter, neither with himself nor others, who might have dissuaded him from giving obedience to it, ver. 16, but immediately went about the discharging of his apostolic office, not without great hazard and pains to himself, in Arabia and Damascus, without so much as once visiting any of the apostles, ver. 17, far less went he to be instructed in the knowledge of the gospel by them, or to receive ordination unto the ministerial office from them, as his adversaries did falsely allege of him, the falsehood whereof he is here making evident.
From ver. 15, learn, 1. Such is the power of Gods good pleasure, whereby he doth whatsoever he willeth in heaven and earth, Psa. cxxxv. 6, that the will of man, though never so deeply engaged in the course of sin and wickedness, cannot resist it, but most willingly doth yield unto it, whenever the Lord thinketh fit to let forth that his good pleasnre in its gracious and powerful effects of drawing a sinner out of nature to the state of grace.
2. the fountain cause of man's salvation and of all things tending to it, especially of his effectual calling, and that whereby he is made first to differ from another, is Gods good pleasure and nothing present, Eph. ii. 1, or foreseen to be, in the person who is called; for the apostle ascribeth all of that kind in himself, to the pleasure of God ; "but when it pleased God to reveal his Son in me.
3. The disposing of events, or of things which shall fall not, together with the time when they shall fall not, are wholly ordered by Gods will and pleasure for this pleasure of his circumscribeth even the time of Pauls calling; "But when it pleased God, then, and neither sooner nor later, was Christ revealed to him.
4, The Lord, by his working in us, and particular acts of providence towards us, is often making way for some hid design and purpose of His about us, which for the time we are ignorant of; but when it appeareth by the event, a wonderful contexture of providences making way for it. and tending to it, is also manifested with it: thus, "The Lord had separated Paul from his mothers womb, to preach the gospel among the Gentiles ; whereby is meant, that God was, without Pauls knowledge, preparing him for that office, by his provideure about him from his very birth, as, that he was born of such parents, with such a bodily temper, fitted, as it would appear, to endure much travel and hardship, that he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, that he was a Pharisee, instructed in all human and divine learning according to the law, &r.
3. The effectual calling of the elect in time, whereby they are drawn to Jesus Christ, John ii. 41, and enabled to embrace him as He is offered, I Tim. i. 15, their minds being savingly illuminated, Acts xxvi. 18, and their wills renewed, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, is the work of Gods almighty power and grace; in the first instant of the work, man doth only receive the impression from grace, and hath no active influence in it, Eph. ii. 5, This doth Paul assert, while he saith, "God called me by his grace.
( A great chunk is missed out here, which would NOT scan. We resume at V.17 para.3)
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, to wit, that he might consult with them, and obtain a permission or commission from them to discharge his office ; otherwise it is probable from Acts xxii. 17, that Paul shortly after his conversion went to Jerusalem, going through it in his way to Arabia, but went not at that time to any of the apostles, being discharged by God to stay any longer there.
2. There may be more ground of hope to bring the most wild and barbarous savages to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, than a people outwardly civilized living under the drop of ordinances, and thereby inured to a form of godliness without the power thereof: for Paul being commanded to make haste out of Jerusalem, there being no hopes that his testimony would be received there, Acts xxii. 18, is sent to the wicked and savage Arabians; But I went to Arabia.
3. The Lord maketh sometimes the first piece of public service, which be putteth his ministers upon, as hazardous, uncouth, and unsuccessfull as any wherein he doth ever employ them afterwards : that hereby they may be taught to depend more on Gods blessing, than upon any human probabilities for success to their pains, 2 Cor. i. 9, and that they may give proof of the sincerity of their obedience to the call of God, when no apparent hazard will make them repent their undertakings, Jer. xvii. 16; and withal that they may, in the first entry, receive a proof of Gods fidelity in hearing them through all hazards, which they may meet with in following of his call. (2 Cor. i. 10.) Thus was it with Moses, Exod. ii. 10, &c.; so was it with Jeremiah, Jer. i. 19; and so here with Paul, whose first work, after God had called him to be an apostle, was to preach the gospel among the wicked and savage Arabians; I went to Arabia.
4. The apostles, by their office, were not fixed or tied unto any certain charge, as ordinary ministers now are, Rev. ii. 1, 8, but their charge being the whole world, Matt. xxviii. 19, they went from place to place, as the necessities of people required, Rom. i. 11, rules of providence, Rom. xv. 20, or God by his Spirit did immediately direct, Acts xvi. 9, 10. Thus Paul went into Arabia, and returned again to Damasces, near to which he was converted, Acts ix. 3, at which time of his return, did fall out that hazard wherein he was, from the Jews, mentioned Acts ix. 23, &c.; for the history showeth it was many days after his conversion, and that immediately after his delivery from it, he went to Jerusalem and conversed familiarly with the apostles, and therefore it could not have been before his journey to Arabia, else that history should contradict Paul himself, affirming here, that be went not up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before him.
VER. 18. "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days".
19. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lords brother.
Here is a third evidence, to wit, that three years after his conversion he went to Jerusalem, to give a familiar, serious, and friendly visit to Peter, in token of mutual consent and agreement to one and the self-same truth, which was preached by them both, but not that he might learn the knowledge of the gospel from Peter as his adversaries alleged: for his abode with Peter was but for fifteen days only, ver. 18. And lest any should object, that he had been taught at that time by some other apostle, he showeth he saw no other apostle there but James, and that he did see him only, as it were, upon the by: which James was not the son of Zebedeus, who was beheaded by Herod, Acts xii. 2; but the son of Alpheus, Matt. x. 3, who either himself or his wife, hath been of kindred with Mary the mother of Jesus. Hence James their son is here called the Lords brother, according to the custom of the Hebrews, who called men of the same kindred and blood, brethren. (Gen. xiii. 8.)
1. That nothing of Peters supposed supremacy over Paul and the rest of the apostles can be gathered from this place, as the papists do allege, appeareth from this, that Paul went first to his work before he came to Peter at all, and that his business with Peter was not to receive ordination from him, or to evidence his subjection to him, hut from the respect and reverence be carried to him, to give him a friendly visit; besides that, it is the apostles scope in a great part of this epistle, to show that he was nothing inferior to Peter, or to any other of the apostles.
2. We ought so to spend our time for diligence and faithfulness in our stations, that we may be able to give a good account how time hath been spent both for days and years: Paul giveth such an account, while he showeth he preached three years in Arabia and Damascus, and after stayed in Jerusalem fifteen days; Then after three years I went up and abode fifteen days.
3. It ought to be the endeavour of Christs ministers to entertain love and familiarity one with another, as also to make their so doing evident unto others; it being most unseemly for those who preach the gospel of peace unto others to live in discord among themselves: for Paul went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, as for other reasons, so that hereby be might evidence that love and harmony which was between them.
4. The Lord doth so direct the steps of those who do acknowledge him in all their ways, Prov. iii. 6, that his glory and their good is sometimes eminently brought about by some of the ordinary passages of their life, even beyond their own intention or purpose : as here Pauls deferring to go to Jerusalem for the space of three years, his abode there only fifteen days, and his seeing none of the apostles there save Peter and James, do serve as an evidence to refute that calumny of his adversaries against his doctrine and office, and hath been ordered so of God for that end; although Paul in the mean time knew not so much, being then ignorant that ever be should meet with such a calumny.
5. As ministers may and ought to meet some times together, to evidence and entertain mutual love and concord, and because of that mutual inspection which they ought to have one of another; so their meetings ought neither to be so frequent, nor of so great continuance, as that thereby their flocks may suffer prejudice: for the word importeth that this was a serious visit, and about serious things, made by Paul to Peter, and yet he remained with him but a short time until he returned to his charge again; he went to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Verse. 20. "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not".
The apostle, having to do with adversaries, and some also amongst the seduced Galatians, who gave not much credit to his word, asserteth the truth of all he hath said, and is to say, in matter of fact, through the whole epistle, and confirmeth it by an oath, where, according to the use of Scripture elsewhere, he expresseth but one principal part of an oath, to wit, a confession of Gods presence and power to witness and judge the truth, and includeth the other parts, such as our invocation of God to bear witness that we speak the truth, 2 Cor. i. 23; and imprecation, that God would be a judge to take revenge upon us if we lie, Ruth i. 17.
1. The Spirit of God in Scripture hath not left us destitute of sufficient evidences to be found in Scripture itself, from whence the truth of it may be made out, and all atheistical doubtings to that contrary removed, among which this is one, the solemn oath of those who write it, being more otherwise godly and worthy of trust, attest the truth thereof, and taking God to witness against their own soul, if they did lie in wha they wrote ; Behold, before God, I lie not
2. The choicest servants of Christ may be looked upon as liars, and unworthy to be trusted even by those to whom they are sent: and ye they must not give over to preach, as knowing the word spoken by them doth still get credit from some, 2 Cor. ii. 15, and will beget trust itself from others, whom God hath ordained to be saved, Acts xiii. 48, and for the rest, it will set up their condemnation and make them inexcusable, 2 Cor. H. 16; for Paul his purging of himself from lying, doth import some did suspect him for a liar, and yet he ceaseth not to take pains upon them: I lie not
3. It is not unlawful for Christians under New Testament to take an oath, providing it with these conditions: First, That the thing which we swear be truth; so was it in Paul oath, I lie not. Second, That there be weighty reasons for taking an oath: so was it here; the glory of God, the dignity of his apostleship, of those Galatians, and of all Christians, as to the truth of the things asserted, did call upon Paul to swear. Third, That we swear only by the name of God, and not by the creatures, Zeph. i. seeing none but God can bear witness to the secrets of his heart who doth swear, Acts xv. 8. So did Paul; Behold, before God.
4. That we do not swear rashly, but with great attention, preparation, and reverence; seeing an oath is a kind of invocation, 2 Cor. i. 23, and a part of divine worship, Deut. vi. 13. Thus Paul prefixeth to his oath a word of attention, Behold! before God, I lie not
Ver. 21. "Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22. And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea, which were in Christ 23. But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once be destroyed. 24. And they glorified God in me".
Followeth a fourth evidence to the truth of what he asserted, ver. 11, 12; to wit, That after he was driven from Jerusalem by persecution, Acts ix. 29, 30, he discharged his apostolic office in Syria and Cilicia, his own country, (Acts xxi. 39.) ver. 21, and this with the approbation of the Christian churches in Judea, who, although he was unknown unto them, ver. 22, and though they had heard, by fame, that he was the man who had formerly been a bloody persecutor; yet God did so bless the very report which they had of his calling to preach as an apostle, and consequently of his miraculous conversion, ver. 23, as they could not deny them to be divine, as appeared by their acknowledging of Gods mercy and power manifested in them, and by their thanksgiving to God for them, ver. 24.
1. Though not one of the apostles was universal pastor and bishop of the whole world above the rest, seeing all of them were endued with equal authority by Christ, Matt. xx. 26, 27; yet, if this illimited power were to be pleaded for unto any of them, there should be more pretence of reason for placing of it in Paul, than in Peter, or any of the rest; Paul being particularly ordained to be the apostle of the Gentiles, Acts ix. i5, and acknowledged heartily by the Jews to be so; and having actually discharged his office far and near, as in Arabia, and then in Damascus, ver. 17, and now in Syria and Cilicia, as also at Rome, Acts 1 xxiii. 11; and having been the first planter almost of all the primitive Christian churches among the Gentiles, as appeareth from the history of the Acts, and Pauls own epistles; and ali this he did by immediate authority from Jesus Christ, ver. 16, and was not sent out by Peter, as his deputy or suffragan, but in all things was his equal, chap. ii. ver. 68. So little ground have the papists to plead that Peter was universal pastor above all the rest, and much less, that the pope is Peters successor in this charge:
2. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ, will labour mainly to be known unto, and acquainte with the people of his own charge, not obtruding himself upon the charge of others,: labouring so much as indirectly to draw the affections of people towards himself from those which are their own pastors, and particularly entrusted with the actual charge of their souls: thus Paul was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea as not having conversed familiarly with them, though he had sometimes occasion to be among them in his frequent going to and returning from Jerusalem, and that because they were a part of Peters charge, chap. ii. 7. 3. Immediately, or very soon after Christs death and resurrection, the preaching of the gospel hath been marvellously blessed, in converting of numerous multitudes to Jesus Christ; yea, and more blessed than readily it hath been in any age of the church since, whereof this is one evidence, amongst many other which are in the history of the Acts and in Pauls epistles, that at this time whereof Paul writeth, which is supposed to be the fourth or fifth year after Christs ascension, there were several Christian churches planted, with officers, and constituted according to the rule of the gospel, even in Judea, amongst that people who had hardened their hearts against the light, Matt. xiii. is, and rejected and crucified the Lord of life, 1 Thess. ii. 15. The gospel was then new and fresh; the preachers of it unanimous among themselves, the truths insisted upon most by them, were such as did relate to faith in Christ, and repentance from dead works, and the most necessary duties of a Christian life; besides, that Gods design was to bring the gospel once in credit and request with a blinded and idolatrous world at the first breaking up thereof; and therefore the preaching of it was attended with more success and a richer blessing at that time than ordinarliy it hath been since: Unto the churches in Judea.
4. Not only particular believers, but also whole visible churches, are in Christ, though in a much different way: real believers are in him savingly, so as to be freed from condemnation by him, Rom. viii. 1; being knit to him by the band of saving faith, Eph. iii. 17; and receiving the influence of saving graces from him, John vii. 38, 39. Again, visible churches are in Christ in the respects presently mentioned, only as to the better part of them, and with regard had to real believers, who always are among them; but besides this, the whole bulk of visible churches, and of visible church-memhers, are in Christ, so as they enjoy from him outward privileges and divine ordinances, Psa. cxlvii. 19, 20; the communication of common gifts from the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. xii. 8; and some measure of divine protection more than the rest of the world, Isa. xxvil. 2, 3; and these all by virtue of their union with him; the bond whereof is the profession of his name, and of those substantial truths which relate unto him, either personally or parentally; which external onion betwixt Christ and the visible church is sealed up by baptism: The churches of Judea which were in Christ
5. Such power hath Christ over the hearts of very enemies; so deep are his engagements to enlarge his own kingdom, Psa. ii 9; that before means and instruments be deficient for the propagation of the gospel, he will turn the hearts of desperate enemies, and make most bitter persecutors to be eminent, lively, and painful preachers: so was it here, He who persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
6. How patient ought the church of Christ to be under saddest persecutions, and how far from base despondency of spirit, as if her case were wholly desperate and remediless; seeing Jesus Christ at an instant can carry captive her chiefest adversaries, and make them to he her stoutest friends, as appeareth from this, He who persecuted us, now preacheth.
7. As godless persecutors propose unto themselves no less than the total overthrow and rooting out of truth, though neither men nor devils shall be ever able to effectuate it, Matt. xvi. 18; so men may look, if they repent not, Luke xii 3, to be justly charged with the guilt of all that evil which once they intended, as if they had actually accomplished it. although it was without their reach so to do: for that faith, or doctrine of faith (as Tit. i. 13,) which Paul at this time did preach, is said once to have been destroyed by him; because he aimed at no less, and his sin before God was no less than if he had done it; although the Lord in mercy did pardon it, t Tim. i. 13: Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
8. We ought so to look upon notable changes which do fall out, whether in particular persons or public societies, whether to the better or the worse, as that we may see somewhat of God manifested in them, either his justice or mercy, wisdom or power, some one attribute of his or other; and so as we may give a suitable return, a whether of fear or joy, thankfulness or admiratiun, or of any other sanctified frame of spirit and holy performance, for which such a manifestation calleth: for those Christians in Judea did so look upon this notable change in Paul, as to see Gods mercy and power manifested in it; and accordingly, with joy, did give God thanks: so much is imported in this, They glorified God in me, saith he.
9. Whensoever God is pleased to make a man instrumental. whether for our own particular good, or the more public benefit of Christs church, as we would not be ungrateful unto the instruments themselves, Judges ix. 16, &c., so neither are we to rest upon them, ascribing the praise of what they do to them, but as we would not provoke the Lord to smite them, or, at least, to make them useless to us, 1 Cor. iv. 6, we are to look unto God more than them, ascribing the praise of what they do unto him, as that which is his proper right and due: so do they ascribe to God the praise of any good which Paul did by his preaching: They glorified God in me, or concerning me.
10. The more that God hath made it convincingly, and from clear evidences, manifest to the conscience of his people that a work is owned and approven by him, and hath drawn no acknowledgment from them to that purpose unto his own praise, it aggravateth the sin of those more who would afterwards question or deny that work to be his: for the apostles scope, in part, is, to aggrege the sin of his adversaries, who denied him to be an apostle immediately sent from Jesus Christ, and that the doctrine preached by him was the truth of God; from this, that the churches in Judea were convinced of the contrary, and had acknowledged so much long since, to the praise of God, by giving glory unto him on Pauls behalf; so that those Galatians and the false apostles were guilty of obscuring the glory of God, shining forth in his conversion and office, which was already acknowledged by others: And they glorified God in me.
END OF CH. ONE
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