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GALAT. V. i 2. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

TH

HIS letter was wrote by the apostle of the

Gentiles, and addressed to the churches of Galatia. The date of it is uncertain ; and, therefore, the opinions of the learned, concerning that circumstance, are various. Paul, here, had two ends, particularly, in view : one, the reproof of the Galatians, for receiving doctrines subversive of the gospel which he had preached amongst them; the other, the vindication of his own character and authority, as an apostle of Christ, which the Judaising teachers had endeavoured to undermine. Having difcuffed both these, our apostle warmly exhorted his correspondents, to stedfastness and perseverance in the persuasion of gospel truths ; the

enjoyment * This fernion was preached on the 8th of April, 1762.; at the admiffion of the Rev. Mr. Alexander Muodie, to the parish of Riccarton.

enjoyment of gospel privileges ; and the performance of every fcriptural duty.

Though the apostle faw cause for administering the sharpest rebukes to these churches, for giving heed to false, anti christian teachers; he, by no means, thought the teachers themselves inculpable, nor meant that they should be unpunished: on the contrary, he found fault with them once, again, and again, chap, i. 7. and v. 10, 12.-With regard to the reproofs such teachers had exposed themselves to, Paul wrote, probably, as a prophet in the tenth verse; “He that troubleth you shall “ bear his judgment, whosoever he bę :" and, in the words of our text, expressed his wish towards the accomplishment of that prediction or threatening. From that verse, fome imagine the apostle had one particular heretic in his eye: but, as they are spoke of in the plural every where else through the epistle, we apprehend it is much more probable, that the churches of Galatia were pestered with many such blind, or designing, guides.

The grand error, into which they drew the Chriftian converts, will appear in the sequel ; and, there. fore, we shall only low observe, that it was, in the apostle's ellimate, ruining to souls; and so mif. chievous to the interests of the gospel, as extorted, from his holy soul, a wish, which, at first fight, would feem inconsistent with the Christian gentlenefs and forbearance, so eminently examplified in Paul's whole character :--at first night, we faid; because, in prosecution of this fubject, we hope to make it appear, in how many respects the wish, under consideration, may, consistently with a gospel meekness and benevolence, be both adopted and justified.

Our method, through divine affiftance, shall be,

I. To

1. To consider in what respects, particular of

fice-bearers in the church may trouble the

church.
H. To show in what view their excision

may

be wished and prayed for by Christians. III. To apply what shall be said, fuitably to the

occasion of this meeting.

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That office-bearers may be troublers of the church, is so evident from this epistle, that he who runs may read :-nor evident from this epistle one ly, but from various other notices also, through the sacred records. --Were not Hophni and Phineas

troublers of the church of Israel ? i Sam ii. Was not Judas Iscariot a troubler of the original apostolic church ? Matth. X. 4.

Were not certain men, who went out from Jerufalem, troublers of the church at Antioch? Acts xv. 24• * Were there not many, especially they of the circumcision, who® troubled the Cretians ? Tit. i 10, 1. "Doubtless. -The holy scriptures, having ti'ansinitted their feveral histories, put the truth of this hypothesis beyond doubt. But if recourse is had to pro. phane history, the amount of lich characters would fwell far beyond due bounds. Valentinus *, Cerdon, and others, during the three first centuries;

Arius

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* VALENTINUS was an Egyptian, who fourished between the years 1 40 and 160. He reduced the dostrines of the Gnostics into a regular system; and, en-raged by a disappointment from the church, propagated them with an ioflamed zeal, first in Egypt, and then at Rone. His scheme chiefly consisted in realizing the divine attributes, or Platonic ideas; making different perfons of them, to compofe his plerora, or complete Deity. See Dupin's church history, vol. II. p. 42, etc.

As

Arius, Priscillian, and others, in the fourth century *; Pelagius, and others, in the fifth g; Sc

As for CERDON, he came from Syria to Rome, between the years 139 and 143, under the pontificate of Hyginus. His nations, which he spread with no less success than zeal, were, That the God of the law was a malignant, and the Father of Christ a good being ; ---that Jesus was neither born, nor possessed of a true body ;--- that his Father sent him to destroy the tya ranny and works of the Lawgiver ;--that there was no resurrection ;-and that the law and the prophets merited no regard. See Dupin's church history, vol. II. p. 47, etc.

* ARIUS, a native of Lybia Cyrenaica, was a priest of the church of Alexandria. The error by whichhe vas dillinguished, and for which his bifhop condemned lim in the 320, consisted in the gross notion he had of the lo Logus, or word; counting Jesus Christ a mere creature, of a different substance from the Father; one who had a beginning, and was capable of change. He began to publish that error in the 318; and continued to dogmatize until after the 334, when his reposition by the bishop of Constantinople was prevented by his sudden death. See Dupin's church history, vol. II. p. 104, etc.

The errors of PRISCILLIAN, which began to make a noise in the 379, were a complication of many former heresies, with additions and improvements of his own and his followers: they are reduced to fifteen heads. See Dupin's church hist. vol. II. p. 123, 125, etc.

§ PELACIUS, a native of our own island, began to teach his errors at Rome, in the 400: They confilted chiefly of these three,-That man's merit procured grace ;--that man in a present state, may arrive at perfect freedoni from paffions and fin ;---and that there is no such thing as original fin at all, but that men are naturally ir clined to good, without the aflirtance of grace. ibid. p. 188, etc.

cinus, cinus, and many others, in later centuries t ; are all standing proofs that the churches have never wanted troublers within their own bofoms, nor wounds received from the hands of prosessed friends.

Taking this hypothesis then for granted, " That <: office-bearers may trouble the church," the import of the term, here used by the apostle, may be illustrated, as ån useful preliminary to what follows. It properly fignifies #, "those who shake the foun. “dation upon which you stand, in such a man

ner, as to make your confidence in it to totter ; " and put the superstructure you raised upon it,-i 1

a falling posture 5." Or, may not the phrase b: a figure borrowed from the agitation given to any fluid, by making the vessel in which it is contain: ed || ? If so, it is a lively description of-what perturbation of mind, to particular Christians ; and of what distractions, in particular churches, such troublers may be the occasion.--Secret doubtfulness, instead of a firm belief ;-heart anxiety, instead of holy composure ;-jealousy also, instea.l of confidence ;--divisions, instead of harmony; alienation, instead of fervent love amongst Chriftians ;--sliding, moreover, into errors, both in fpeculation and practice, instead of cleaving to the G 2

Lord

+ SOCINU$ taught, that Jesus Christ was pot God; and that the Holy Ghost was not a person, but a simple virtue. He began to vent his errors in Italy about 1546, and died in Poland, May, 1604. See Dupin's church history, vol. IV. p. 124.

| Hoi anaftatountes umas.
Ś Vide Pafor. Lexicon, in verbum anastato..

|| Thus the verb taraso, which is used by this 2postle, chap. i. 7. and v. 10. in the same fenfe with anaftatoo here, is a figure borrowed from that very thing. Vide Pafor. Lexicon, p. 474.

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