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was of the Stock of Israel, of the Tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, and as touching the Law a Pharisee; ver. 5. And yet all' these Privileges he reckon'd of no worth or value to him without an Interest in Christ, which was infinitely above them all. And therefore he here tells the Galatians, that all insisting on these Privileges, and all other Contests about the Law are frivolous and to no purpose; For in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Uncircumcision, but a new Creature. Now under the Gospel 'tis not material whether a Man be circumcis'd or no, for he can be the better for neither : that which is now requir’d, is to be regenerate by Baptism, to be born again of Water and the Holy Ghoft, and thereby to be. come new Creatures : and such must all be that come to Christ; For if any Man be in Chrift (faith the Apostle), he is a new Creature z old things are paft away, behold all things are become new. 2 Cor.5. 17. The old sinful Practices are to be laid aside, and the antiquated Rites of the Law to be done away, and we enter upon a new State that obliges to Newness of Life : For the Gospel brings a Change of Things and Persons from what they were before ; there is miore Grace, better Promises, greater Asistances, and ampler Encouragements than were made known before, all which call upon us to lead better Lives, and so to become new Creatures.
And as many as walk according to this Rule, Peace be on them and Mercy, and upon the whole Israel of God. Which words may be understood either as a Wish, that all who lead their Lives by these measures, and walk as becometh the Gospel of Christ, may have all Peace and Mercy maltiply'd upon them į or else as a Promise, that they who do fo, shall certainly find all that Peace and Happiness, which the Gospel exhibits and holds forth to them. Both which Prayer and Promise is here made, not only for those who newly embrac'd the Faith of the Gospel, but for the whole Ifrael of God, that believe on him, whether they be Jew or Gentile, Bond or Free, for they are all one in Christ Jesus.
Having said this to them, he adds in the following words, From henceforth let no Man trouble me, for I bear in my Body the Marks of the Lord Jesus: that is, for the future ' defire that none would give me any farther trouble in this matter, for I have other work to do, which by my Office I am bound to attend and discharge. And there can be no rea
son to cause any more Vexation to me; for I have already felt those Affićtions in my Body, whích in some measure resemble the Sufferings of Christ, and are fo many Marks and Tokens of my Sincerity and Constancy to him.
And then he closes all with this Salutation, Brethren, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit. Amen. With this Prayer he begins and ends most of his Epistles, which contains his hearty Wish for the Prosperity both of Body and Soul, and that all the Favours and Blessings of Heaven, both temporal and spiritual, may be multiply'd upon them : which Wish we ought all to have for all our Fellow-Christians.
This is the Sum of the Epistle for this Day, from whence we may learn the following Lessons : And,
1. From St. Paul's writing so large a Letter with his own Hand, we may learn to spare no pains for the Satisfaction of doubting Christians, and to rescue them from the evil Arts and Designs of Deceivers. We see what pains the Apostle here takes with these Galatians, to keep them steddy to the Truths of the Gospel, and to arm them against those Judaizing Teachers, that would urge Circumcision upon them, and introduce other abolish'd Rites of Moses's Law. With the like Care and Diligence ought we to instruct ignorant and deluded People in the Faith of Christ, to reduce those to the Unity of the Christian Church that have stray'd from it, and to preserve them from the Errors and Infinuations of false Teachers, that labour to seduce then.
2. Front St. Paul's Discourse here, we may learn to stand faf in the Liberty wherewith Chrift hath made us free, and not to be intangled again in the Yoke of Bondage. St. Luke tells us, that the Church sometime groan'd under a heavy and burdensom Yoke of carnal Ordinances, such as neither they nor their forefathers were able to bear : from this Yoke Jesus Christ hath happily deliver'd his Church, having blotted out the Hand-writing of Ordinances that was against us, and rescu'd us froni the beggarly Rites and Rudiments of the Ceremonial Law, and particularly the painful Rite of Circumcision. Let us not then suffer our felves to be again brought in Bondage to these things; Christ being the fole Master of our Faith, let us not become the Servants of Men. This Advice St. Paul frequently gave in most of his Epistles ; which yet we must not strain So far,
as to think all comely Ceremonies relating to Time, Place, and Gesture, to be now forbidden in the Service of God; for without some of these, it cannot be perforni'd in that D’cency and Order that is requir'd : but that we are not to return again to the Mofaical Ceremonies and Sacrifices, which being Types and Shadows of good things to come, mast vanilh and cease at the coming of them. Infomuch that we are now called to no other Circumcision, fave that of the Heart, nor to offer up any other Calves than those of the Lips: for we are the Circumcision (faith the Apostle) tbit worji ip God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Chrift Jefus, and have no Confidence in the Flesh. Phil. 3. 3.
3. From what hath been said, we may learn not to thrink fro the Faith for fear of Perfecution, but rather with vur i postle to glory in the Cross of Christ, by which we shall be crucify'd to the World, and the World to us, We read in this Epistle of some that press’d Circumcision, for fear of displeasing the Jews, and suffering by them: but St. Paul stood his ground, and fear'd nothing ; he would not forsake the Truths of the Gospel for all their Threats, but rather courted than fear'd the Cross in Christ's Cause : I am ready (faith he) not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jefus ; Acts 21. 13. He prefer'd his Sufferings at Jerusalem, before all their Triumphs at Rome; and valu'd the Cross of Christ above all the Trophies of the greatest Conqueror : which should teach us all Courage and Constancy in his Cause, and to be above the Frowns and Menaces of the greatest Enemies; knowing that the Cross is set in the way to a Crown, and if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorify'd together.
4. We learn here, that no external Privileges or Advantages are sufficient of themselves to bring us to Heaven; for in Christ Jesus neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Uncircumcision, but a new Creature ; nor will Baptism, or any other Gospel-Privileges, do us any service, without a true Faith, and the Answer of a good Confcience.
5. They that walk by the Rules of the Gospel, shall find Peace and Mercy heap'd upon them ; and fo shall the whole Ifrael of God, both Jew and Gentile, for there is no difference.
Lastly, Since the Gospel of Christ is attended with Trouble and Persecution, let us make the Yoke as easy as we can to one another: and since the best fuffer much by
the profess’d Enemies of Christianity, let them not find any additional Troubles 'from its Friends and Professors. This is St. Paul's Request in his own and others behalf, From henceforth, let no Man trouble me, for I bear in my Body the Marks of the Lord Jesus ; which honourable Scars I esteem higher than the greatest Marks and Badges of worldly Glory : And if we can do fo, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will be with our Spirits. Amen.
The Gospel for the Fifteenth Sunday after
Trinity. St. Matthew vi. 24, to the end. No Man can serve two Masters; for either he will
bate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other : ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Therefore 1 say unto you, take no thought for your Life, &c.
HE Design of this Gospel, is to take off Mens
perishing things of this World, and to place them upon a more lasting and fubftantial Treasure in Heaven. But because some may be apt to say, that they consist of a Body as well as a Soul, and they must provide for both, and they have a want of good things for the one in this Life, as well as for the other in the next, and so must divide their Care and Affections between them :
To these our Saviour here replies, No Man can serve two Mafters, &c. Which he here proves, because the loving of the one, will be the hating of the other, and the holding to the one, will be the despising of the other. And then applies it to the present Cafe, Te cannot serve God and Manmon. The rest of the Chapter is an Inference from this, and an Enlargement upon it : of which in their order.
First, Of the Proposition here laid down; No Man can Serve two Mafters. This will be evident to any, that considers the Properties and Duties of a good Servant.
The first whereof is Obedience, which is the doing the Master's Will, which cannot be done to two; especially, if they interfere as to Tinie, and the Matter of their Commands. If both lay their Commands at the same time, or if one commands one thing, and the other another, 'twill be impoflible to observe both.
Again, Diligence is another Duty of a Servant, which is the minding and doing his Master's Business ; Not with Eye-service, as Men-pleafers, but with Sincerity and Singleness of Heart: being as well employ'd out of the Master's fight, as when his Eye is upon him. Now this cannot be to two Masters; for if one behold him doing his Work, the other must necessarily see hin neglecting his, it being impoflible to be doing both at the same time.
Moreover, Fidelity is another Duty and Property of a good Servant, which cannot be to two Masters, for a Servant owes his whole Service to his Master; and none can give his whole Service to two, for what is given to the one, must be taken from the other; and if one hath all, the other can have none; and consequently none can truly serve or be faithful to two Masters.
But our Saviour's Arguments here are both of them ir. refragable.
If, Because no Man can love two Masters as he ought, for if he love the one, he will hate the other. Love is of an uniting Nature; if it be center'd in one Object, 'tis commonly true and lasting; but if it be divided among more, it becomes weak, and soon turns into Hatred. And therefore the Apostle wills us neither to be, nor to have many Masters; for that will divide the Affections, and instead of Love and Kindness, will breed Enmity and Dislike.
2dly, No Man can be constant to two Masters; for to hold to the one, will be to despise the other. The Mind cannot equally incline to two Objects, but like the Scales of a Ballance, the railing of one will be the lowering of the other. In this case, there is no holding the Scales even ; the more the one rises in Esteem, the more the other finks, and the sticking to the one will be unavoidably accompanied with the falling off from the other. This is evi. dent both in the Theory and the Practice. From whence I proceed to