Summary: This Sermon is #11 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
General Character of Christians. Galatians v.24.
"And they that are Christ’s have crucified the Flesh, with the Affections and Lusts."
ST. PAUL is supposed to have been the first herald of gospel grace to the Galatians; and they appear to have rejoiced at the glad tidings, and to have received the bearer with much respect. But after his departure, certain judaizing teachers went among them, and labored but too successfully, to alienate their affections from him, and turn them form the simplicity of the gospel.
THE malice and errors of those deceitful workers, and the mischief which they occasioned at Galatia, caused the writing of this epistle: which, like the other writings of this apostle, reflects light on the gospel in general, while it served to correct the mistakes of those professors of Christianity, and guide their erring footsteps into the way of peace and truth.
IT is not our design to enter into the controversy between this inspired teacher, and his enemies. We are only concerned to understand him, and shall receive his instructions as communicated from above. THE primary design of this epistle was to refute those false teachers who urged circumcision, and the observance of sundry parts of the Levitical code, which had been abrogated by the gospel. This appears to have been a leading error of those anarchists. That the apostle did not lay the intolerable burdens of the Mosaic ritual, on the professors of Christianity, was made the ground of a charge against him. St. Paul defended himself by evincing the errors of his opponents, shewing that Christians are made free from the ceremonial law; and that their justification before God is not in virtue of any obedience of their own, to either the ceremonial, or the moral law, but of grace through faith in Christ.
IN the former part of the epistle, he shows the impossibility of justification in any other than the gospel way--especially in that way, to which those false teachers directed--shews that they subverted the gospel, and rendered Christ’s sufferings of no effect--"By the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified--If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." *
* Chapter ii. 16,21.
WE conceive these to be obvious truths, and wonder that they should be matter of doubt, or dispute, among those who are favored with revelation, and receive it as given of God. Perfect obedience is evidently the demand of the divine law, and condemnation is denounced against the breakers of it. "This do, and thou shalt live, but the soul that sinneth, it shall die." * But none of our race keep the law. "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise "by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe." Mankind are "shut up to the faith in Christ.." This is the way in which God "hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. He that believeth shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Therefore the hope of the apostle, in the way of faith, while discarding hope in any other way. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the Faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law."
* Lev. xviii. 5--Ezek. xviii. 4.
FROM the reasoning of the apostle, the false teachers at Galatia seem not to have urged obedience to the whole law. Circumcision they taught to be indispensible. St. Paul allures them, that if they were under obligation to receive circumcision, they were equally obliged to keep the whole law; and that they bound themselves to this by submitting to be circumcised--that if they reverted to the law, and placed their dependence on their obedience to it, they renounced the grace of Christ, and would not be benefited by it.
"BEHOLD, I Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised. Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that it is circumcised, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. Christ is become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace,"
WHILE such was the state of those who followed the judaizing teachers, those who retained the gospel as taught by the apostle, had another hope--a hope which would not make ashamed--a hope in divine grace through faith in Christ--"We through the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."