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the law they thought they must keep, for they were sure God had ordained and commanded it: Christians they must needs be, for they could not resist the light of the doctrine and glorious miracles that were wrought; therefore, they would keep the law, and yet continue Christians. Their great mistake was in not understanding the nature, and meaning, and use of the law. They thought, that as it commanded them such a task of duty, so the doing of that duty must needs be pleasing to God; and consequently that man must needs be held most righteous that most exactly kept that law; for God could not choose but love and justify them that kept his own law. Where, note, that it was not, 1. Out of self admiration principally, or a conceit of any excellency of works as works, that was the root of their error, but it was an admiration and honouring of the law of God, thinking that it were a derogation from its perfection, to say either that it was useless as to justify men, or that it was not a way, yea, a perfect way to life and happiness : 2. You must note carefully, that it is not the law as delivered to Adam, which the apostle or these Galatians here spake of, which supposed the subject to be perfectly innocent, and, therefore, that it was not perfect obedience without any sin that these Jews did look to be justified by, for they could not be so blind as to think they had no sin, for then they would never have offered sacrifice for expiation of it, nor have confessed sin, nor prayed for pardon, which it is certain the Jews did use to do, but they thought, that though they were sinners, yet by the obeying this law of Moses God's wrath would be appeased : that is, partly by their sacrifices, which they thought did expiate sin of themselves, as being a sufficient means, through the virtue of God's ordination and mercy for that end, and partly by returning to obedience again : so that they took not this to be a law of perfect works made to perfect man, as the only condition of his salvation, as Adam's law was, but a law of perfect obedience for the future, yet not as the only condition of life, but prescribing a course, in the use whereof God would pardon their sins, if they obeyed sincerely; or, as Paul Burgens. on Jam. saith of his countrymen, the Pharisees, that their opinion was, that he was righteous, whose obedience was more than his disobedience, and the contrary unrighteous. The root of their error, therefore, was, that they looked only at the task of duty prescribed by the law, as if it meant that the bare doing of it should justify them, and procure pardon, especially their sacri
fices and other ceremonies; and did not look at the promise, which was a thing distinct from the law; nor yet at the meaning of these sacrifices and ceremonies, which secretly directed them to look for pardon and justification by Christ: they took up with the letter and immediate sense of the law, and did not understand the end of it: they knew not that Christ was the end of the law to every one that believed. The justification that they looked for, did not consist in perfect obedience, as Adam's did, and should have done, (those mistake that think so,) but partly in their obedience to Moses's law, and partly in God's merciful pardoning them for and upon the mere use of sacrifices, and the like ceremonies. They did not look to be justified or saved without mercy and pardon, but to have mercy and pardon by their task of legal duties, as such, and as the only and sufficient means : so that their error lay in the excluding the use of Christ and faith. They saw not that these sacrifices were but types of Christ, and had all their virtue from the sacrifice of Christ, which was then undertaken, and in moral being, though not in natural being, or performed: not that these Jews that were before Christ should not use sacrifices and ceremonies; nor yet that they should not expect ever the more acceptance from God upon the use of them, for certainly God appointeth no duty or means in vain. But, I. They should have understood, that Christ's sacrifice was the thing typified; 2. And that from hence they were to expect the pardon of all their sins, as the meritorious cause; and from these sacrifices and ceremonies, but only as the most inferior, remote conditions on their part, i. e. as the matter of the law, wherein they were required to be sincerely obedient; 3. And that faith in Christ, 1. As promised; 2. As typified in these ceremonies, was the principal condition on their part required for obtaining pardon and justification by Christ to come; and therefore they should have believed the more easily in Christ when he was come, in that they might see their law in him fulfilled ; and they should have understood that it was but a temporary law, and was to cease when the Messiah was come. It scarce needed
abrogation, because there was a clear cessation when the end was accomplished, and the term expired, of which the Messiah did give them full assurance. Much less should they have been so tenacious of it, when the apostles had so fully cleared to them the cessation.
I have thought it necessary to open this the more carefully to you, because it is most necessary to the understanding of Paul's
epistles, and especially about the doctrine of justification, to know well what he means by the law, for else you cannot know what he means by works; and certainly you will find that he means most commonly the law of Moses, and not the law as given to Adam, prescribing perfect obedience to a perfect creature, as the only condition of life, and knowing no pardon; and that he speaks not of any such justification as excludeth pardon, but contrary. It is a wonderful hard, yet very necessary question, what form this law of Moses had, and to what use it was, and how different from that of nature, and that of Christ and pure grace. Camero hath taken most pains in it; but I will not now say any more of that than I have done.
So then the question here debated was : Whether the keeping of Moses's law were necessary to justification and salvation, and therefore to be joined with Christianity.
Against this, Paul had before disputed by several arguments; and here, in the beginning of this chapter, having a sensible argument to urge upon them, which none that had the free use of reason could resist, he ushers it in with a sharp and confident exprobration, calling them foolish or mad; and asking them, who had bewitched them, &c. As if he had said, 'When men are blind and err against their own sense and experience, it is a mark they are mad and bewitched by some power of an evil spirit: but so it is with you,' &c.
Thereupon, in the words of my text he challengeth them to answer but this one argument: That doctrine and way is the right doctrine and way of salvation, by which ye received the Spirit; for the Spirit is an unquestionable seal of the doctrine. But it was not by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit, but by the hearing of faith. Therefore, &c.
The words contain, 1. Paul's confidence in this particular argument, having the nature of a challenge to them, to answer it if they can : this one thing would I learn of you, &c.
2. The argument itself propounded interrogatively and dilemmatically, as Christ did by the Jews about John the Baptist, that so while they were studying an answer they might perceive their error; as if he should have said, either you received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by faith ; not by the law, therefore by faith.
Here are several terms to be opened : 1. What is meant by the works of the law? 2. What by the hearing of faith? 3. By the Spirit ? Of which briefly in order.
1. I have said as much already to the former as I shall now
say; that is to say, that it is the works of Moses's law. But if any shall ask, 1. Was it the ceremonial, or the moral? I answer, both. All the law of Moses, but more principally the ceremonial.
Q. But faith of Christ is part of the moral law, therefore it cannot be of that.
A. The moral law, commanding the duty of the law of nature, is but part of a law, commonly called the matter, by divines, and not the whole law; and it is, 1. Part of the matter of the law given to Adam; 2. Part of the matter of the law of Moses; 3. Part of the matter of Christ's new law. Now Paul speaks of it here not as the law of Christ, nor directly as the law made to Adam, but as the law given by Moses; and so even the moral law perhaps may fitly enough be said to be abrogated or ceased, though the same moral law, as part of Christ's law, still be in force, and I think as part of the first law of nature.
Quest. Doth not Paul argue against justification by the works of the law of nature, as well as of Moses ? Answ. Not directly, but by consequence he concludeth against it: I mean, his argument will hold à fortiori against justification by the law to Adam ; for if that law cannot justify, which was given to sinners, as sinners, and hath in it a way prescribed for pardon, much less will that now justify, which was given to man as innocent and perfect, and knows no pardon of sin.
2. By the hearing of faith is meant the hearing and so receiving of the doctrine of faith, or doctrine of Christ; not that hearing is here put for preaching, as Erasmus thought, which Beza well confuteth; but hearing implieth believing or obeying the doctrine heard; for all that hear, or to whom the word is preached, believe not, and so have not the Holy Ghost, but those that so hear as to believe and obey; and therefore Grotius gathers hence, that the Holy Ghost is not given but to minds yet purified, which is his frequent observation, which yet needs much explication and caution, and might more clearly in the right sense be gathered from other texts.
3. But the great question here is, what is meant by “Holy Ghost ?' Calvin modestly leaves it undetermined : Paræus thinks it is rather meant of the Spirit of sanctification than the gifts of miracles : Deodate and many others, conclude truly, it is not to be wholly restrained to either; nor either wholly excluded. I think it is meant of that eminent measure of the Spirit, proper to Gospel times which Christ gave his disciples; but especially
proper to that
for working of miracles, and speaking with tongues, which was
age for the confirmation of his doctrine. It is a great difficulty, I confess, to understand what is meant by the Holy Ghost in many texts of Scripture, which promise it to believers, or which mention the giving it after believing; because faith itself is certainly a gift of the Holy Ghost. For the resolving this briefly, understand, that operations on the soul are ascribed sometimes to the Father, sometimes to the Son, according to the several seasons of working and states of men when it is given, and covenants under which it is given. It was the Spirit of God as Creator, or of the Father according to Scripture-speech, which Adam had in innocency: but it is not called the Spirit of Christ the Redeemer. After the fall and promise Christ was made Head of all, upon his undertaking, and so did send forth his Spirit; but according to the infancy of the Church, and the obscure way of then revealing the Gospel, it was in so low a degree, that it is not so frequently nor plainly called the Spirit of Christ. As the grace of Christ, and the glory of heaven are revealed very darkly there ; so is the Spirit's working, which leads thereto. Yet was there then so much of the Redeemer's Spirit, that is, of recovering grace given, as might and did suffice to save men ; but there was a greater fulness of the Spirit promised in the time of the Gospel, and given when Christ was ascended to glory. This is called the Spirit sent by Christ from the Father; or by the Father at the intercession of Christ, and the Spirit of the Son. So that as now the Son doth more visibly receive his power, and more clearly manifest his office and commission, and show men their cluty; so he now more openly owneth all the works of grace, tending to the recovery of sinners. And so he giveth such a further and a fuller measure of the Spirit, for sanctification and for gifts, and for the service of the church, that is by an excellency called the Spirit of Christ : so that though there were a Spirit before, yet this fuller measure is properly called the Spirit of Christ : because it is that measure which is given by Christ come in the flesh, and was not given before under the law. So that here is the first reason why it is called the Spirit of Christ, as it is meant of the Spirit of sanctification. And it seemeth that faith goes before this gift of the Spirit: that is, by the help of the word preached, and God's ordinary means, men may be brought to believe by that degree of the Spirit that before was given to the church.