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THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XI.
Julian Pe. seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men; I should Thessaloriod, 4762. not be the servant of Christ.
sion, denied his apostleship; and, in support of their denial,
We may therefore believe, that immediately after the council,
This argument, however, does not prove that the epistle was necessarily written, as the learned author supposes, at Antioch, though it migbt be written not long after the council.
Macknight's second reason is taken from the inscription of the epistle, in which it is said, that all the brethren who were with St. Paul joined him in writing it. For as the only view which any of the brethren could join the apostle in writing to the Galatians, was to attest the facts which he advanced in the first and second chapters, for proving his apostlesbip, the brethren who joined bim in writing it must have been such as knew the truth of these facts. Wherefore they could be neither the brethren of Corinth, nor of Ephesus, nor of Rome, nor of Troas, nor of any other Gentile city, where this epistle has been dated, except Antioch. As little could they be the brethren who accompanied the apostle in his travels among the Gentiles, as Hammond conjectures. For none of them, except Silas, had any notice of the facts advanced in this epistle, but what they received from the apostle himself; so that their testimony was in reality, the apostle's own testimony. The only brctbren who could bear effectual testimony to these things, were those who lived in Judea and its neighbourhood, particularly the brethren of Antioch, who, by their intercourse with those of Jerusalem, must have known what happened to St. Paul there, as fully as they knew what happened to him in their own city, where he bad resided often and long. I therefore have no doubt that the Epistle to the Galatians was written from Antioch, and that the bre. thren who joined St. Paul in writing it, were the brethren there, whose testimony merited the highest credit. For, among them were varions prophets and teachers, whose names are mentioned, Acts xiii. 1. with others of respectable characters, whose place of residence, early conversion, eminent station in the Church, and intercourse with the brethren in Jerusalem, gave them an opportunity of knowing St. Paul's manner of life before bis conversion. His being made an apostle by Christ himself-his being acknowledged as an apostle by his brethren in Jerusalem -his teaching uniformly that men are saved by faith, without obedience to the law of Moses-his having strenuously maintained that doctrine in the hearing of the Church at Antiochhis having publicly reproved St. Peter for seeming to depart from it, by refusing to eat with the converted Gentiles; and that on being reproved by St. Paul, $t. Peter acknowledged his miscon
Thessalo riod, 4762.
nica. Vulgar Æra, St. Paul, in Answer to the False Teachers, asserts he re. 51.
duct, by making no reply. All these things the brethren ofAntioch
Dr. Macknight, however, has omitted to observe that the cir.
Dr. Macknight's third argument for the early date is derived from 'tbo omission by St. Paul of his usual command, that the persons to whom he wrote should remember the poor. This is evidently an unsafe mode of reasoning.
When the apostle wrote bis Epistle to the Galatians, he had heard of the defection of some of them from the truo doctrine of the Gospel. This defection he represents as having happened soon after they were converted, Gal. i. 6. “ I wonder that ye are so soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ.” But if the Epistle to the Galatians was written either from Rome, during the apostle's first confinement there; or from Corinth, during his eighteen months abode in that city; or from Ephesus, where he abode three years; or from Troas, in his way to Jerusalem with the collections, the defection of the Galatians must have happened a considerable time after their conversion, on the supposition that they were first called when Paul and Barnabas went into their country from Lycaonia. Wherefore if the apostle's expression, “ I wonder that ye are so soon removed,” is proper; the Epistle to the Galatians could not be written later than the interval between the council of Jerusalem and the apostle's second journey into the Gentile countries with Silas, when they delivered to the Churches the decrees of the council.
These arguments seem to prove, that the Epistle to the Galatians was written soon after the council of Jerusalem : the exact time seems, however, to be more satisfactorily ascertained by Michaelis, who has assigned it to some part of this second apostolical journey, before St. Paul came to Berea, where the brethren appear to have left him. St. Paul's first visit to the Galatians was not long after the council which had been held in Jerusalem, as appears from Acts xvi. 4, 5, 6. “And as they (namely, Paul and Silas), went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, wbich were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem : and so were the Churches established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily. Now when they had gone through Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia," &c. &c. From this passage we see that St. Paul preached the Gospel in Galatia; for the probibi. tion was confined to the Roman proconsular province of Asia, to which Galatia is here opposed. This is further confirmed by Acts xviii. 23. where St. Luke relates, that St. Paul again visited Galatia, strengthening his disciples, so that converts must have bave been made on bis first visit (kk). Now let us follow St. Paul on his first journey from Galatia to Berea, in
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS--CHAP. XII. Julian Pe. ceived his Apostleship from God, and relates kis Conver- Thessaloriod, 4762. sion, Commission, and General History.
nica. Vulgar Æra, 51.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Macedonia, where he seems to have arrived in the same year,
When he left the Galatians he was accompanied by several
When he was no longer in safety here, he left Galatia, be left Silas behind, and went to Athens, so that when he arrived in that city, none of the brethren were with him, in whose company he had travelled from Galatia.
Now St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians is written not only in his own name, but in the name of all the brethren who were with him. Who, then, were these brethren? Were they known or unknown to the Galatians ? St. Paul would hardly have written to them in the name of all the brethren who were with him, without determining who those brethren were, unless they had been the same who attended when he left Galatia, and who therefore were known to the Galatians without any farther description.
Consequently this Epistlo must have been written before St. Paul separated from these brethren, that is, before he left Thessalonica. Whether it was written in this city, or before he arriv. cd there, I will not, says Michaelis, attempt to determine; but it certainly was written during the interval which elapsed between St. Paul's departure from Galatia, and his departure from Thessalonica.
Again, St. Paul in the two first chapters, gives the Galatians a general review of his life and conduct from his conversion to apostolic council in Jerusalem, and at the farthest at his return to Antioch. Here he breaks off his narrative. It is probable, therefore, that from that time to the time of his writing to the Galatians, nothing remarkable had happened except their conversion. Lastly, the supposition that St. Paul wrote to the Galatians at the period which I have assigned, accounts more easily than any other for St. Paul's mentioning to the Galatians, that he had not obliged Titus to undergo the rite of circumcision, namely, because he had obliged Timothy to submit to it immediately before his first visit to the Galatians; and St. Paul's adversaries had appealed, perhaps, to this in support of their doctrine, that the Levitical law should be retained.
The particular year of the Christian era (contipucs Michaelis), in which the Epistle to the Galatians was written, it is difficult to determine with precision, though we arc especially interested in the date of this Epistle, because it appears from chap. iv. 10. that the Galatians were on the point of celebrating the Jewish Sabbatical year, and in that of their seduction by the Jowish zealots, of leaving their lands upcultivated for a whole
Jolixn Pe 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I Thessaloriod, 4762.
pica. Vulgar Æra,
taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 51.
year, though the law of Moses on this article could not possibly
What Michaelis conjectured (says Dr. Hales), but was pot
To understand the design of this Epistle, we must take into consideration certain opinions which were prevalent in the apostolic age.
The Jews believed that God demanded implicit obedience to the law of Moses-that this obedience would justify them, or place them, with respect to God, in the same situation in which they would have been, if they had not transgressed ; and it had the power of obtaining for them also eternal life. They thought that man was not so fallen, but that he was of himself able to obcy the law, and thus fulfil the conditions on which eternal life was promised. These opinions were so blended in the minds of the Jews, with undoubted truths, that it would have been diffi. cult to have answered them satisfactorily, unless by divine inspiration. The apostle, however, proves by irrefragable arguments, both here, in bis Epistle to the Galatians, and in his Epistle to the Romans—that the justification of man could not be accomplished by his owo obedience. It was utterly impossi. ble that man could fully and satisfactorily obey the demands of a law, which was designed rather to convince men of sin, and enforce upon them the conviction that something moro was necessary to obtain the favour of God, and that the ceremonies of their Levitical law were only typical of some better and more perfect salvation: the law was as a servant, leading them as children from the painfulness and bondage of school, to the glo. rious liberty of the sons of God and heirs of heaven.
In opposition to this Judaizing heresy, St. Paul addresses the Galatians, and endeavours to convince them, by a masterly strain of argument, that the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is the doctrine of Scripture. After having established his apos. tolic commission against tbe attacks of the false teacbers, he asserts, that as the law has no power to give lise, it is useless to compel the Gentiles, or the Christian converts, to conform to the full observance of the ceremonial law. He assures them no flesh shall be justified by the law, but by the faith of Christ Jesus, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ shall be dead in vain; and he proves the superiority of the new covenant, by referring to those gifts they had received from the Holy Spirit since their admission into the Christian dispensation.
He further assures them, that the Christian covenant was founded on the promise given to Abraham and to his seed, which was made and confirmed by God in Christ, four hundred and thirty years before the law; therefore it was not possible that the law should disannul or make the promise, of a redeeming Saviour of Isaac's line of none effect. ' If, then, the Gospel was
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XII.
Julian Pe 18 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past Thessaloriod, 4762.
through the law are to be blessed), we must inquire into that
Macknight remarks on this subject, referring to the Epistle
that faith and works are inseparably connected as cause and effect; that faith, as the cause, pecessarily produces good works as its effect, and that good works must flow from faith, as their principle ; that neither of them, separately, are the means of our justification, but that, wben joined, they become effectual for that end. Wherefore, when in Scripture we are said to be “justified by faith," it is a faith accompanied by good works. On the other hand, when we are said to be justified by works, it is works “ proceeding
from faith.” Therefore, in this Epistle, St. Paul must be considered as arguing against the possibility of salvation or justification by works of the law, while he enforces, by the example of Abraham, the necessity of good works on the principle of a well-grounded or justifying faith on the Son of God.' This doctrine of justification, however, has been infinitely discussed and controverted-many depreciating good works in favour of faith alone ; but this error frequently arises for want of a proper consideration of the apostle's arguments. It is dangerous, so far as it checks exertions, and insidiously draws men from those outward forms which are the land-marks of religion. Under the pretence of encourag, ing, it destroys internal religion ; by representing it as a system of pious feelings, which are independant of those outward ordinances which were ordained by Christ himself. The whole system of revelation corroborates the view here taken of "jus. tification by faith.” It is illustrated by all the eminent characters of the Old Testament, and is confirmed in the New, by the parables and actions of our Lord himself.
It will excite surprise among those who are interested in theological studies, that I have made little or no use of the labours of iwo writers, who of late years have paid great attention to these Epistles-Mr. Belsham, and Dr. Semler of Halle. My reasons shall be briefly given.