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them alone. For if this counsel, or ages of popery, and take a view of the this work be of men, it will come to reformation. nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot During about three hundred years, overthrow it."
the church suffered a series of perse2. We may notice the progress of|cutions by the pagan emperors of the great work of the apostles, in build-Rome; but all this time, flourished in ing up the church of Christ among the the purity of the faith. After this, the gentiles. In the Acts of the apostles, corruptions of popery, and a flood of we have a history of facts, which few errors were introduced. The church pretend to dispute. All men of infor-was, for above a thousand years,overmation know, that, by the spread of whelmed with the idolatrous oppresschristian doctrines, the ancient paganions, and the tyranny of lordly popes idolatries were rooted out of Greece and cardin Is. The true church of and Rome. Their images were aban-Christ was reduced to few in number, doned and their oracles were struck and was driven into corners. Never dumb. The apostles were opposed was any cause in a more hopeless state. by heathen philosophers, as well as by Faith was scarcely to be found; and Jewish infidele. The preaching of the power had entirely departed from the cross was to the Greeks, foolishness. faithful few. But, in the depth of this On account of their being Jews, the darkness and distress, a reformation apostles were obnoxious to the gen- took place, by the preaching of Luther, tiles. At Macedonia, they were Calvin, and a few others, which in a brought to the magistrates, saying, short time, rescued from the pope half “These men, being Jews, do exceed- his dominions. A reformation was ingly trouble our city.” At Thessa effected by the sword of the Spirit, which lonica, the clamor was, “ These that is the word of God, and which was evhave turned the world upside down idently the Lord's doing, and it is marare come hither also." At Athens, vellous in our eyes. Paul was encountered by the epicure- 4. In later ages of the world, Christ ans and stoicks, who said, “What will is appearing, more and more, to be the this babler say ?" Others said, “He head of the corner. Greater and greatseemeth to be a setter forth of strange er have been the efforts of his advergods,” because he preached unto them saries to undermine and destroy his Jesus and the resurrection. At Ephe kingdom. Hosts of infidel writers sus, the whole city was filled with an have exerted their talents to overuproar, and the people, with one throw the christian system. Equal accord, for the space of two hours, cri-hosts of sectarians have displayed their ed nut," Great is Diana of the Ephe-zeal to confute the doctrines of the resians." Such was the opposition formers. And even the main body of which the apostles encountered among the church called reformed, has in latthe gentiles; together with persecu- ter years, been sadly corrupted with tions, imprisonments, stripes and mar-error, as well as deficient in morals, tyrdom. But, in all the above men- and in discipline. But within a few tioned places, and in many other pla- years past, opposition subsides, and ces among the gentiles, Christ's king-true religion is reviving. Infidels are dom was established; benighted na- || laying aside their poisonous pens; and tions were enlightened; and the idola- some of them are even constrained to trous, converted to the christian faith. preach the faith which they once destroySurely, “this was the Lord's doing, ed. Zealous and successful efforts are and it is marvellous in our eyes." made to spread the knowledge of
3. To show further that the build-Christ among the heathen nations. ing of the christian church, is a mar- | The gospel is spreading from south vellous work of God, we may trace Africa to China; and is sent to the disits progress down through the dark tant islands of the sea. These are the
Lord's doings, and they are marvel- the Lord. Let us, therefore, give all lous in our eyes.
the glory to God. “Not unto us, 5. Special awakenings, in particular Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name societies, at this day, exhibit striking give glory." evidence of divine power. Towns 3. The building and establishment and cities, which have been long sunk of the church being the Lord's doing, in stupidity, are at an unexpected day we are taught to hope for success, in and without any extraordinary means, our own endeavors, only by prayer and awakened and solemnized : many area sense of our dependence on God. hopefully converted. Christians are God works by means; and displays animated; the church is increased, and his grace in answer to prayer. “ The the word and ordinances of God be effectual fervent prayer of a righteous come precious. The Sabbath becomes | man availeth much It is connected a delight; and all appointments for with precious promises. “ Ask, and social worship, are attended with ea: ye shall receive.” If all christians, gerness. This is evidently a great like Paul and Apollos, were faithful to and good work, and it is supernatural. plant and to water; and were engaged “ This is the Lord's doing, and it is mar-in humble prayer for the prosperity of vellous in our eyes.”
Zion ; Zion would certainly prosper. To account for serious awakenings, 4. Let saints be taught by this sunand conversions to the faith of the gos-ject, their dependence on the power pel, on any other ground, is impossi- and grace of God, for every moment's ble.
perseverance; and for every step of Thus evident it is that the building progress in the divine life.
"By the and establishing of the church of Christgrace of God I am what I am.” God is a marvellous work of God.
keepeth the feet of his saints. He
guideth them by his counsel, and afterREMARKS.
ward receiveth them to glory. This is 1. How presumptuous must those|| an important part of the Lord's doing, be, who ascribe this great work to and it is marvellous in our eyes chance, or to human artifice! and how
4. Let sinners be taught, not merely heaven provoking must those be, who to believe, but to realize, solemnly, ascribe it to an infernal influence !
their entire dependence on infinite When the scribes and chief priests as
grace for salvation. Let cribed the miracles of Jesus to the them give up all confidence in their power of Beelzebub, he pronounced
own good works, or good endeavors, them unpardonable, How much more to deliver them from eternal death. unpardonable is he, who ascribes this || This whole subject bears a solemn tesgreat work of grace to infernal powers! timony against the hope of salvation
2. This being the marvellous work by works. Had this been a reasonaof God, to him belongs all the glory.ble ground of hope, Jesus would never Men may, and ought to be instrumen-| have reproved the Jews; nor would tal of building up the kingdom of Je-lhe have laid down his life for us. No: Sus Christ.
But let them realize nor would he have given the Holy they are mere instruments. Salva
Spirit for our sanctifier. Let sintion is of the Lord.” We may be ac-ners despair of seeking any salvation, tive instruments, and receive a great as it were by the deeds of the lan. Let reward; but it is a reward of grace.- them seek only by faith in Jesus Christ; Had the apostles lived and labored, and to him let them approach with the with increasing zeal, to this day, it temper and spirit of the publican; who would have been all iņ vain, without|smote upon his breast, saying, “God the exertion of divine power.
be merciful to me a sinner." the hand of the Lord was with them, then many believed, and turned unto
THOUGHTS ON GALATIANS, iii. 26,
Mive by faith." Those, therefore, who
live by any other means, or in any *** For ye are all the children of God by other
sense, are not just, have no true faith in Christ Jesus."
life ; and must, therefore, with all the THERE will be no need of a long in- favorable appearances, in which they troduction concerning the controver- glory, be dead in trespasses and sins. sy, in which the apostle was involved ||This brings us to the position laid with those who subverted the souls of down in the words, upon which we the Galatians, teaching for doctrines |are to comment. “ For ye are all the commandments of men. The the children of God by faith in Christ brethren of these churches had already Jesus." By a strict adherence to the listened too far to insipyations and genuine spirit and import of these dogmas, which had an obvious ten-words, we shall be precluded bringing dency to undermine their faith, and to into view any new doctrine. There support the conclusion, that Christ is is so much of what is here expressed dead in vain. It is important to the in the bible generally, and it is so enspiritual interests of the soul, that we | tirely fundamental to the religion emshould not only be acquainted with | braced by all true christians, that we the nature of justification, in what it cannot have avoided being often preconsists; but that we should also dis- sented with the idea most prominent cover from what source it is derived in the passage. Who is not wholly The apostle's reasoning seems to under a persuasion, that the gospel make it even necessary to the existence represents faith as the very groundof true religion, that the subject should work of salvation ? and that this enhave an understanding of its origin; of tirely supercedes the works of the law, the nature of that influence, in which excluding them from any place in the it takes its rise. . Therefore he says, christian character, as works com“This only would I learn of you, Re-pletely dead, and therefore peculiar to ceived ye the Spirit by the works of such as have never been begotten the law, or by the hearing of faith ?” again unto a lively hope. But to conUpon this point chiefly, it would seem template a subject of so much impor: that the perverted views of the Gala- tance in the christian scheme, can netịans needed rectifying. Those, who ver be unseasonable, nor prove a weahad instructed them upon an anti-risome task to those, who apprehend apostolical plan, taught them to place the native character and situation of the works of the law at the foundation man, and are suitably affected with the of all their religious hopes, by which plan of reconciliation which mercy they nullified the death of Christ, and and truth have chosen. To see the struck off from the scheme of redemp- || whole world self-destroyed, perishing tion all the doctrines of the cross. in their own corruption, must prepare “ Christ is become of no effect unto one in some measure, to witness, with you, whosoever of you are justified by joyful exultation, the interference of a the law; ye are fallen from grace. Imighty Redeemer, who will take away For if righteousness come by the law, sin
by the sacrifice of himself, who will then Christ is dead in vain." The implant righteousness in the hearts of apostle's whole scope, in this epistle, depraved creatures, and in a word, will is to exalt the Saviour, by showing the ilmake all things new. futility of every other refuge; and by The words under consideration condemning that as a carnal, ungod-point out a class of people as being ly, and self-righteous spirit, which the children of God. This is not the would draw water out of any other natural condition of any; neither is it well of salvation. “ But that no man attained by the exertions of men. is justified by the law in the sight of ||“ But when the fulness of the time was God, it is evident: for the just shall | come, God sent forth his Sou, made
of a woman, made under the law, to those several subjects. Faith may be redeem them that were under the law, lin Christ, as holiness itself, in the most that we might receive the adoption of perfect degree, is in him, and as he is
The Spirit of adoption is possessed of all excellence and pergiven to those whom God hath chosen fection. This must be admitted, upon to be his children; and they cry, Abba, supposition, that faith is a proper term Father. Their acquiring and holding to express general holiness. And to this sonship, is represented as being by say, that it is not, would be much less faith ; not by faith in the most general satisfactory, than to give the proof of it. and undefined sense; but by faith in To illustrate and prove the doctrine, Christ. This method of stating the exhibited in the text now before us, is grand leading truth, at which the apos- the thing in view ; and my understandtle aims, does, in my view, clearly ing of this doctrine I state as follows, viz. suggest a thought, that is not common- That the church, comprising all true ly adverted to in explanatory observ-believers, Christ has obtained as a fruit ations upon this subject. The apos- of his faith or fidelity. tle, I think, is rather defining what A number of propositions will serve brings persons into this happy near to exhibit this matter in its own proper ness to God, than explaining the na-light. ture of the filial character, which be- First. The scriptures speak of Christ longs to them. It is true, indeed, under the appellation of a Father. that faith is the very thing, which dis- He is the mighty God, and the evertinguishes the children of God from lasting Father. To him ultimate resthe children of the wicked one. It is pect is had, no doubt, as the anthe opposite of that disposition and ti-typical David, when it is said in practice, which constitutes a likeness | Psalms Ixxxix, “ If his children forto the grand apostate, who stands at sake my law, and walk not in my judgthe head of the unbelieving world, as mentsThen will I visit their transthe father of all the ungodly. But ingression with the rod.” A seed necesthe passage upon which we are observ- sarily implies ancestry, or parentage. ing, the apostle speaks of a faith, which When Christ, therefore is represented gives being to the new man, which as being a seed, as in Psalm xxii, “ A creates unto good works: and hence seed shall serve him, it shall be acrepresents it as in Christ. With many counted to the Lord for a generation;" persons I have found it a novel idea, the idea is fully implied, that he is the and one, to which they do not readily Father of those whom he acknowledgassent, that Christ is often mentioned es and receives as his children. This in the scriptures as having faith, and accords with the manner of our Savior's as exemplyfying it in mediatorial addressing his disciples, after his resur
|| works. Their grand objection, I ap-rection, when he shewed himself to prehend, must arise from the views them at the sea of Tiberius. “ Then Jethey entertain of the nature and objectsus said unto them, Children, have ye of faith, as if every holy act would not any meat?” It is from Christ that the properly come under this denomina- ||new birth is obtained. By him are tion. In such a supposition, does the saints begotten again. It is Christ, there not a real mistake exist ? Faith, who gives them their new heart and in my view of the subject, is a term right spirit ; so that they exhibit his large enough to comprehend all true image, being in the likeness of his righteousness; and is not to be exclu-| death and also of his resurrection. sively applied to any particular class|It is by the resurrection of Jesus of right exercises. If so, the faith of Christ from the dead, that they are God, the faith of Christ, and faith of begotten again unto a lively hope. Abraham, are expressions equally To an inheritance incorruptible, and
' proper, as pointing to parsonal acts in undefiled, and that fadeth not away, In connection with this thought, the trine, that believers belong to Christ, apostle subjoins the exhortation follow- as his seed, as the children whom God ing; Therefore gird up the loins of|hath given him.
“Thine they were, your mind-As obedient children, not and thou gavest them me; and they fashioning yourselves according to for-have kept thy word.” mer lusts in your ignorance." The The next thing is to inquire, upon apostle Paul virtually ascribes paterni- | what plan they have become his. The ty, or fatherhood, to Christ, when he doctrine we are engaged to vindicate, says to the Corinthians, “For though states them to be the fruit of his faith. ye have ten thousand instructors in In our way to this conclusion, we obChrist; yet have ye not many fathers ; serve for in Christ Jesus have I begotten you Secondly. That believers are reprethrough the gospel." All the influ- sented as children of promise. It ence which the apostle here claims, ought to be kept in mind, that our subhe resolves into a divine efficiency, ljeci does not lead us to any inquiries into the energy which Christ puts forth concerning natural seed. If it did, we in the gospel, for converio , for the should not be limited to the church, implanting of holiness in'hearts by na- to the subjects of an holy calling; for ture sinful. If a christian ambassador all men are Christ's children, as resbegets spiritual children, in the name,peets their creation ; for his power it and by virtue of the gracious, almigh-is that has called them into being.ty influence of the great Shepherd and By him were all things created in heaBishop of souls, under the authority ven and in earth, both the visible and and blessing of him, who has institu- the invisible; and without him was ted the gospel for this glorious pur not any thing made that was made. pose; the inference is certain and nat- Spiritual children are brought forth in ural that they, who are thus begotten, a different way and hold their standbelong to Christ, as his children, oring on other ground, than that of a natseed. And this is further manifest from ural creation, or generation. Hence what is said concerning their adoption. we have the distinction in scripture be“And because ye are sons, God hath tween those born after the flesh, and sent forth the Spirit of bis Son into those born according to promise.-your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. The natural seed, and the spiritual difWherefore thou art no more a ser- | fer in the most important respects, vant, but a son; and if a son, then an though the same individuals may be heir of God through Christ.” All this of both classes. A man's being a happy change of character and condi- child of God, spiritually, is nothing in tion is through Christ, owing its exist the way of his being such naturally ; ence to the operations of that Spirit, neither does his being the offspring of which he has given, and which washes, God, in a natural sense, hinder his besanctifies, and justifies in his name.- ing a child of the devil, as to his heart When, therefore, the apostle says,“ For and affections. " It is written, that ye are all the children of God," it is Abraham had two sons; the one by a equivalent to a declaration, of their be-bond-maid, the other by a free woing the begotten of Christ, and his mán. But he who was of the bond-wochildren of course. This will harmo-man, was born after the flesh; but he nize with the following, addressed by of the free woman was by promise." the Son to the Father. “I pray for The promise of God to Abraham, that them. I pray not for the world, but he should have a son, had respect to for them which thou hast given me; something more than the production for they are thine. And all mine are of one from his toins, bearing his natthine, and thine are mine, and I am ural image, and inheriting his worldly glorified in them.” A further testimo- substance. It chiefly regarded the ny is not wanted to confirm the doc- Il great interests of religion, and of the