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The sin and danger os adding to the doctrine os the gospel.
G A L A T. !. 8, 9. tut though we, or an Angel from heaven, treach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have peached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say 1 now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Before I come to handle the words, forthe better understanding of them, I shall give a brief account of the occasion of them, which was this. Some false Apostles had made a great disturbance in the churches planted by the Apostles of Christ, by teaching that it was necessary for Christians, not only to embrace and entertain the doctrines and precepts of the Christian religion, but likewise to be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses. Of this disturbance which was raised in the Christian church, you have the history at large, Acts xv. and as in several other churches, particularly in that of Galatia, these false Apostles and seducers had perverted many, as appears by this epistle; in the beginning whereof St. Paul complains, that those who were so seduced into this error of the necessity of circumcision, and keeping the law of Moses, had, by this new article of faith, which they had added to the Christian religion, quite altered the frame of it, and made the gospel another thing from that which our Saviour delivered, and commanded his Apostles to teach all nations.
For he tells us, ver. 6. of this chapter, that he marvelled, that they were so soon removed from him that (tiled them by (or through) the grace of Christ, unto another gospel, that is Ib diffetem from that which
Vol. V. A they. they had been instructed in by those who first preached the gospel unto them: for the making of any thing neceslary to salvation, which bur Saviour in his gospel had not made so, he calls another gospel. !. marvel, that ye are so soon removed from him that tailed you by the grace of Christ, unto another gospel, .which is not another, od oux. 'kiv Clxko, which is no other thing, or by which I mean nothing else, but that there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel os Christ; as if he had said, when I say that ye are removed to another gospel, I do not mean that ye have renounced Christianity, and are gone over to another religion, but that ye are seduced by those who have a mind to pervert the gospel of Christ, by adding something to it, as a necessary and essential part of it,. which Christ hath not made so: This the Apostle calls a perverting or overthrowing of the gospel; because, by thus altering the terms and conditions of it, they made it quite another thing from what our Saviour delivered it.
And then at the 8th and 9th verses he denounceth a terrible anathema against those, whoever they shall be, yea, though it were an Apostle, or an Angel from heaven, who by thus perverting the gospel os' Christ (that is, by making any thing necessary to be believed or practised, which our Saviour in his gospel hath not made so) should in effect preach another gospel; but though we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, Ut him be anathema, an accursed thing, and then to express his confidence and vehemency in this matter, and to shew that he did not speak this rashly, and in a heat, but upon due consideration, he repeats it again in the next verse, JLs 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.
From the words thus explained by the considera-" tion of the context, and ot the main scope and design of this epistle, these following observations do naturally arise.
Sirfi, That the addition of any thing to the Christian an religion, as necessary to be believed and practised in order to salvation, is a perverting of the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospel.
Secondly, That no pretence or infallibility is sufficient to authorise and warrant the addition of any thingjo the Christian doctrine, as necessary to be believed and practised in order to salvation.
Thirdly,That Christians may judge and discern when such additions are made.
Fourthly, And consequently, that since the declaration of the gospel, and the confirmation of it, there is no authority in the Christian church to impose upon Christians any thing as of necessity to salvation, which the gospel hath not made so.
Fifthly, That there is no visible judge (how infallible soever he may pretend to be) to whose definitions and declarations in matters of faith and practice necessary to salvation, we are bound to submit, without examination whether these things be agreeable to the gospel of Christ, or not.
Sixthly, and lastly, Whosoever teacheth any thing as of necessity to salvation, to be believed or practised, besides what the gospel of Christ hath made necessary, doth fall under the anathema here in the text, because in so doing, he perverteth the gospel of Christ, and preacheth another gospel. Now the Apostle exprefly declares, that though we (that is, he himself, or any of the Apostles) or an Angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than what we have preached unto you, let him be accursed: As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that you have received, let him be accursed. .
I. That the addition of any thing to the Christian religion as necessary to be believed or practised, in order to salvation, is a perverting os the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospel.
This is evident from the instances here given in this epistle; for the Apostle chargeth the false Apostles with perverting the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospel, upon no other account, but because they added to the Christian religion, and made cirA 2 cumcision. cumcision, and the keeping of the law of Moses, an essential part of the Christian religion, and imposed upon Christians the practice of these things, and the belies of the necessity of them, as a condition of eternal salvation.
That this was the doctrine of those false teachers, We find exprefly. Acts xv. 1. And certain men- which tame down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner as Moses, ye cannot be saved; and ver. 24. in the letter written by the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem, to the churches abroad, there is this account given of it; forasmuch as we have heard that certain which .went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your fouls, faying, ye must be circumcised, and keep the law, to whom we gave no such commandment. Where you fee that this doctrine is declared to be of pernicious consequence, tending to subvert the souls of men, and likewise to be an addition to the doctrine of the gospel which was delivered by the Apostles, who here with one consent declare, that they had given no such commandment; that is, had delivered no such doctrine . as this, nor put any such yoke upon the necks of Christians; but on the contrary had declared, that the death of Christ having put an end to the Jewish dispensation, there was now no obligation upon Christians to observe the law of Moses.
And from the reason of the thing it is very plain, that the addition of any thing to the Christian religion, as necessary to be believed or practised in order to salvation, which the gospel hath not made so, is preaching another gospel; because it makes an essential change in the terms and conditions of the gospel-covenant, which declares salvation unto men up©n such and such terms, and no other. Now to add any other terms to these, as of equal necessity with them, is to alter the condition of the covenant of the gospel, and the terms of the Christian religion, and consequently to preach another gospel, by deciding other terms of salvation, than Christ in his gospel hath declared, which is to pervert the gospel of Vhrist." • H. No II. No pretence of infallibility is sufficient to authorize and warrant the addition of any thing to the Christian doctrine, as necessary to be believed or practised, in order to salvation. Aster the delivery os the gospel by the Son of God, and the publication of it to the world by his Apostles, who were commissioned and inspired by him to that purpose, and the confirmation of all, by the greatest and most unquestionable miracles that ever were, no person whatever that brought any other doctrine, and declared salvation to men on any other terms than those which are declared in the gospel, was to be credited, what pretence soever he should make to a divine commission or an infallible assistance- she Apostle makes a supposition as high as can be, though we (fays he) or an Angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be an anathema. If the Apostles themselves, who were divinely commissioned, and infallibly assisted in the preaching of the gospel, should afterwards make any addition to it, or declare any other terms of salvation, than those which are declared in the gospel which they had already published to the world, they ought not to be regarded.
And the reason is plain; because what claim soever any person may make to infallibility, and what demonstration soever he may give of it, we cannot possibly believe him, if he contradict himself, and deliver doctrines which do plainly clash with one another: For if he spake true at first, I cannot believe him declaring the contrary asterwards: And if he did not speak true at first, I cannot believe him at all; because he can give no greater proof of his divine commission, and infallible assistance and inspiration, than he did at first.
And the reason is the fame, if an Angel from heaven should come and preach a contrary doctrine to that os the gospel, he were not to be believed neither; because he could bring no better credentials of his divine commission and authority than those had who published the gospel, and, consequently, he ought not to be credited in any thing contrary to what they A 3 had