« ПредишнаНапред »
CHAP. iii. 19.- 29. 19. Wherefore then. serveth the law ? It was added
because of transgressions, till the feed Mould come to whom the promise was made ; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20. Now a medica tor is not a mediator of one ; but God is one. 21. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, fout up unto the faith, which should afterwards be revealed. 24. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27. For as many of you as have been baptized unto Christ, have put on Chrift. 28. There is neither Jew inor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female : for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's feed, and heirs according to the promise.
HÈ Apostle having, in the forego1 ing verses, given a fair and distinct state of that divine constitution which commonly goes under the name of the co
venant of grace, as prior to, and independent on, the law of Moses, and entirely different in its nature and tendency from that and all other laws which have been set up for answering the ends of it, to give a right and title to eternal life, and the full possession of it in due time; and, at the same time, shewn it to be fo perfect, that it neither needed, nor could admit of any supplement or assistance whatsoever; and as he was perfect master of his subject, and had the whole system before him, he could easily foresee every difficulty, and every exception that could be made. There was one very obvious one: If the system of grace, as it was laid in Christ, and the grant and deed of gift made to him, was so complete, to what purpose was the law given? This he answers very distinctly, and particularly ; and thence takes occasion to give us a view of the Jewish and Gentile churches, which contributes greatly to the design of his writing, which was, to establish the Galatians in the belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, and caution them against the Judaizing zealots, who were labouring with all the art and cunning they were
masters of, to bring them to submit to the law of Moses.
Before we enter upon this part of the Apostle's discourse, it will be of some use to make a remark or two on the issue the Apostle brings the state he had given of what he calls sixthun to. In the preceding discourse, I observed how earnestly numbers of commentators contend for the covenant-fense of that word, and that it nea. ver carries any otheri sense in the New Testament; nay, and that this is the true and genuine sense of the word. I forgot to take notice of their great argument, taken from the Jewish covenant, which, they say, none can deny was evidently fuch; and yet, where-ever it is spoken of, · it is called sizzókn. What occurs to me, on the best judgement I can make of that transaction, is, that it was no covenant at all, but fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, of giving Canaan to them for a pofsession, and a very wise system of laws. given them, founded in that free gift, and therefore is truly and properly called a grant or deed of gift. And the law given in consequence of their possession, keeps its own name in the New as well as the Old
Testament. But the most bulky and diftinguishing part even of that law, the order of the tabernacle, and temple-worship, was no other than a sensible exhibition of the blessing of Abraham, even that capital blessing, the grant and promise of eternal life, in Christ the promised seed, which was the very fpirit of that law. This was the order which the great creator established from the time that sin entered the world; and men were forced to see, that they must either. live by the mere grace and free favour of their creator, or perish; and to this all fubsequent divine interposals, the Mosaic especially, were subfervient.
As by this constitution and order all the grace ever God designed for mankind, and particularly what comprehends all they are capable of receiving, and all they can ever have any need of, viz. the gift of eternal life, is lodged, treasured up, in Jesus Christ, and conveyed by him to them. The light in which the Apostle sets this conveyance in Heb. ix. 15. et Jeqq. has induced many of the best interpreters to pitch upon a testamentary disposition, as the only true meaning of the word constantly used throughout the . VOL. III. . Gg
New Testament to express this conveyance, It is certainly next to impossible for an attentive reader to avoid believing, that he who wrote these words took it in this view. Our Lord, in his farewell-speech to his disciples, recorded by the Apostle John, chap. xiv.xv. &xvi. speaks so much through the whole fermon, and particularly chap. xiv. 27. in the strain of one ordering legacies to the friends he is leaving, as naturally leads one into that notion: and when one considers the nature and design of the death he was going to suffer, that it was a sacrifice for their sin, a ransom for their lives, the price of their redemption from the curse of
the law, the bondage of fin, and death it· self, and the only mean by which the bleff
ing could be conveyed; it must seem very odd to a man of plain understanding, what should make men of sense and learning so averse to the most endearing views of our God and Saviour. I will not take upon me to say, but it is hard to avoid a sufpicion of something of the same spirit with that which did so much mischief in the Apostles days, viz. a preposterous zeal for law and moral government; which none who know what sin is, durft think