Galatians 4
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Paul, having spoken of the Law-school in the preceding sections, and of the participation of believing Gentiles in the privileges of the Abrahamic family, proceeds in the present section to speak of the times before Christ's advent as infantile, of the advent as the fulness of times, and of the majority which is realized by believers through the gospel. Four leading thoughts are thus presented.

I. THE IMPERFECT TIMES. (Vers. 1-3.) The Old Testament times represent the experience of all men before the reception of the gospel. They were the minority of humanity. The soul was then like a child who is placed under stewards and guardians, and is not allowed to take charge of itself. It lived by law and rule, and had not entered upon proper self government and independence. Now, all the world was in this legal condition as well as the Jews. Nay, we are all before conversion in it; we are legalists by nature, we do what is prescribed with more or less fidelity, and congratulate ourselves upon the doing of it. It is the "infantile" stage. It is the imperfect times, as contrasted with the riper experience the gospel brings. And yet it is better that the soul should be at the school of Law than wandering waywardly after its own devices. Better be under restraint than be utterly spoiled by getting our own way. We ought not to under-estimate the discipline which the Law-school secured.

II. THE ADVENT OF THE SON. (Vers. 4, 5.) It was Christ's coming which brought in the fulness of times. He came to put an end to the world's minority and to secure the world's redemption. He did so by being "born of a woman," by being "born under the Law," and undertaking all his brethren's responsibilities. Having obeyed the Law in its penalty of death for disobedience as well as in its precepts, he redeemed men from the condemning power of Law, and secured their adoption as sons. The world at the advent of the Son must have looked differently to the eye of God the Father. For milleniums he had been looking anxiously down to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. But, alas! the verdict had to be that "they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:2, 3). But at the advent of Christ a new example presented itself, a new type arose - a sinless Being appeared upon the stage, with all the interest around him of sinlessness. A breach of continuity took place when the babe was born in Bethlehem. Instead of the world being now condemned wholesale, it possessed for the Divine mind a deep attraction. The drama of sinlessness amid temptation was being carried on, and a repulsive world became the centre of moral and spiritual power. A new age thus dawned upon humanity. Man's minority was over and his inheritance was at hand.

III. THE ADVENT OF THE SPIRIT. (Ver. 6.) The magnificent panorama of sinlessness, however, might have passed impressively before the eye of God, and have given flesh interest to the problem of humanity, without at all affecting men themselves. But the advent of the Spirit secured men in their spiritual inheritance. The cry of the human heart, which had been so indefinite before, became definite and pathetic. It became the cry of children who had learned at last to feel at home with God. The converted Jew and the converted Gentile began to cry to the one Father in heaven, and to feel "orphans" no more (cf. John 14:18). The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of adoption enables human hearts to look up hopefully to heaven, and to realize that it is no longer empty, but filled with the presence of an infinite and all-merciful Father, who desires above all things the welfare of his children. It is this marvellous arrangement of the advent of an infinite Spirit of adoption which ensures the reality of adoption, and makes all the sons feel at home. Poets doubtless wrote about man being "God's offspring" (Acts 17:28), but the fancy of the poet could only become a fact of human experience when the indwelling Spirit prompted the cry, "Abba, Father."

IV. THE HEIR THEREBY ENTERED UPON HIS MAJORITY. (Ver. 7.) The termination of slavish fear, and the advent of a sense of sonship, is what we call conversion. But we hardly realize at once the meaning of our inheritance. How magnificent it is! To realize that God no longer is angry with us, but looks down with ineffable tenderness as our heavenly Father; to realize that, though we have nothing of ourselves, we have become heirs of all things, and find that all things are being made to work together for our good (Romans 8:28); to realize that we are "heirs of God through Christ," - is surely glorious! There is happiness when noble heirs reach their majority. What feasting and good will and congratulation goes on in the baronial halls! Poets sing of it, and artists paint the scene. But no joy of majority on earth can compare with the joy which attends the sense of our spiritual majority before God. The baron's heir is filled with mingled feelings if his heart beat true, for he knows that the condition of his inheritance is, alas! his father's death. He must be base indeed who can contemplate such a condition without emotion. But when the Spirit of adoption comes within us it is to enable us to realize that, not only is our majority come, but also our inheritance as sons of God; into this inheritance we may enter at once. The Father never dies, and his presence, instead of keeping us out of our enjoyment, consecrates and enlarges it to a heavenly fulness. "All things are ours, if we are Christ's" (1 Corinthians 3:20-23). May we no longer live as bond-servants before God, but enter by adoption into the privileges of sons! - R.M.E.

I. THE CHILD COMING TO HIS MAJORITY. Analogy. "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all; but is under guardians a

We naturally ask the question which forms the title to Anselm's famous book, 'Cur Deus Homo?' Why could not God effect his gracious purposes without the incarnation of his Son? The verses before us throw light on this question. Ver. 4 indicates the two leading points of the humiliation of our Lord - the personal and the moral. Ver. 5 shows the object of these respectively. "The Son of God was born a man, that in him all men might become sons of God; he was born subject to Law, that those subject to Law might be rescued from bondage" (Lightfoot).

I. CHRIST BECAME A SON OF MAN THAT WE MIGHT BECOME SONS OF GOD. "He was born of a woman" "that we might receive the adoption of sons." His humanity was real; he had a natural body and soul, and he entered the world by birth. His humanity was a humbling of himself (see Philippians 2:7, 8). It was the emptying himself of primeaval glory; the subjecting himself to earthly limitations of knowledge, power, etc., even down to the unconscious helplessness of infancy; the endurance of the toil, the weariness, the distress of a hard life, ending in that horror and mystery which we call "death." Consider how this incarnation of Christ leads to our adoption.

1. It is the secret of his influence over us. Attraction is in proportion to nearness. To influence a man you must descend to his level. There the power of sympathy is most felt. So Christ stooped to us that he might lift us (see Hebrews 4:15).

2. It is the source of his power to conquer our great foes, sin and death (see Hebrews 2:14). Sin and death chain us down from the glory of the Divine life. To conquer these Christ faced them.

3. It is the ground of his atonement with God. God could not welcome us while all right and justice opposed. Christ, as the representative Man and for his brethren as both Priest and Sacrifice, opened the way back to God (see Hebrews 2:17). Hence the great privilege - Divine sonship. He became as we are that we might become as he is; he joined himself to us that we, united with him, might rise to his glorious life.


1. He was born subject

(1) to the Levitical Law - as a Jew;

(2) to the social law - subject to his parents, etc. (Luke 2:51);

(3) to the civil law (Matthew 17:24-27);

(4) to the moral law -

not only to that pure morality which God and all holy beings follow, but to the definite precepts of morality which accompany the limitations of human life.

2. He was also subject to the penalties of the Law though himself sinless:

(1) to the shame and trouble of the world generally which he shared in entering it;

(2) to death, the distinctive doom of sin.

3. How does this lead to our liberation?

(1) By facing the death-doom of the Law Christ conquered this for us.

(2) By obedience to the Law he triumphed over the Law. The largest liberty is in obedience. The Law is made for evil-doers; it is powerless against the good. Christ makes his people righteous (Romans 8:3), and so frees them from Law.

(3) By rising from obedience to the letter of the Law, to the higher obedience of the Spirit, he leads us also to that freer service of love which is the emancipation from Law. - W.F.A.


1. Christ revealed the fatherhood of God. Mohammedans think of "Allah" as an omnipotent autocrat, and Jews regard "the Eternal" as a righteous Lord, but Christians know God as "our Father in heaven." It is not that the idea of the fatherhood of God was not conceived before the time of Christ, for Hebrew psalmists found comfort in it (Psalm 103:13), and even Homer sang of "the father of gods and men." But

(1) Christ gave prominence and supremacy to an idea which before was only co-ordinate with, or even less regarded than, other Divine attributes; and

(2) he revealed for the first time the richness and tenderness of this the inmost character of God.

2. The fatherhood of God is to Christians a relationship of love and gentleness. God is not regarded, like the Roman father, as one who might be a terror to his children. The "Abba, Father" in the old home language - the language of the nursery - suggests the feelings of little children to their father, and may we not say their mother (see Isaiah 49:15)? The type of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven is a little child; a little child's affection for his parents is the pattern of the purest Christian devotion. Nevertheless, this childlike confidence does not conflict with the rightful authority of God. The father is not weak because he is gentle. The trust of love is an obedient trust.

3. From trust in God's fatherly love the Christian life grows into a habit of aspiration. The yearning of the soul for God is met only to be deepened and intensified, so that the Christian learns to press on ever nearer and nearer to God, the burden of his heart's desire finding utterance in the cry, "Abba, Father."

II. THIS GRACE GROWS OUT OF AN INSPIRATION OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD'S SON. Christ reveals the fact of the fatherhood of God; but the mere knowledge of that fact which we may derive from studying the words and life of Christ will not enable us to realize the spirit of trustful sonship. It is little to know that God is a Father if we do not experience the love and close relationship of his fatherhood. So great a change is required before we can do this that nothing short of a Divine inspiration can make it possible. Indeed, it is Christ's Spirit in us that utters the cry, "Abba, Father." Thus the yearning of the soul for God is itself the result of God's visit to the soul. All aspiration springs from inspiration. Because Christ lived in trust and communion with God, his Spirit entering us enables us to do the same. He is the true Son, and therefore his Spirit gives to us the grace of sonship.

III. THE DIVINE INSPIRATION DEPENDS ON OUR RELATION OF SONSHIP WITH GOD. Though God is naturally the Father of all, it is not every one who can cry, "Abba, Father." The mingled trust and aspiration of such a cry are only possible to those who are sons indeed, reconciled to God and restored to the family home. The Spirit that inspires the cry is not given to all. We must be receptive if we are to receive it. The Spirit of God's firstborn Son is given to the true sons of God. The sonship, St. Paul teaches, is the consequence of our own faith, and the inspiration follows. Therefore the consciousness of trustful aspiration towards God as our Father is a proof of sonship. The Spirit thus bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God. - W.F.A.

The Christian is compared to the son, the Jew to the slave. The gospel brings sonship, Law inflicts bondage. The sonship of the new order involves liberty and heirship. Consider some of the privileges herein implied.

I. INTELLIGENT PRINCIPLES SUBSTITUTED FOR SPECIFIC COMMANDMENTS, The slave is ordered to do this or that without his master condescending to tell him the reason for his mandates. He is bound to a blind, implicit obedience. Nothing is done to develop his understanding and to help him to choose and decide on his own judgment. But the son is admitted to his father's counsels, and educated so as to reason for himself and to act on the dictates of his own conscience. The Law keeps men as slaves. It commands, it does not explain. Christianity

(1) enlightens so that we see the principles of righteousness, understand their inherent rightness and discern their applicability to specific cases;

(2) liberates by allowing us freedom to apply these principles according to our own conscientious convictions, instead of forcing upon us a rigid course of conduct.

II. LOVE AS A MOTIVE INSTEAD OF COMPULSION. The slave may hate his master and only obey in fear of the lash. The true son is above this abject, servile obedience. He has learnt to love his father, and from love to seek to anticipate his father's wishes and willingly to endeavour to please him. The Law commands, threatens, drives, compels. The gospel persuades and attracts. The Christian obeys God because he first loves God. The secret is that Law cannot change our hearts, while the gospel does "create a new heart within" us, so that we no longer need the restraints of Law, but earnestly desire to please God.

III. FAMILY FELLOWSHIP IN PLACE OF SERVILE INFERIORITY. The slave is kept at a distance from his master, holds an inferior position, and is excluded from familiar intercourse. The son lives at home in the presence of his father and enjoys close companionship with him. Law keeps us at a distance from God. Jews were made to feel a sense of separation caused by their Levitical system. Christians are brought near through Christ and belong to the family of God.

IV. A RICH INHERITANCE IN EXCHANGE FOR HELPLESS POVERTY, The slave can own nothing. All he earns and his very person are the property of his master. Sons are heirs. Law allows us to gain nothing - it is a hard master; but the gospel offers the richest gifts. Christians, being God's sons, become fellow-heirs with Christ. - W.F.A.

Having spoken of the majority which it is intended we should realize through the gospel, Paul proceeds next to speak about the return to legalism which had characterized the Gauls. Before Paul's advent to Galatia and his gospel message, they had been idolaters, but his preaching had brought them face to face, so to speak, with God. Into this Divine knowledge they had dipped, but, alas] it had only been a swallow-flight, for, after tasting the liberty of the gospel, they had flown back to bondage. They had skimmed the surface of salvation, and had winged their way back to the old legalism which had characterized their idolatrous days. Here, then, we have suggested -

I. THE LEGALISM WHICH NECESSARILY CHARACTERIZES IDOLATRY. (Ver. 8.) The philosophy of idolatry is a most interesting inquiry. Nowhere is it more succinctly set before us than in Psalm 115. The idols are there shown to be after the image of their makers (ver. 8), and, conversely, their worshippers become assimilated to them. The stolid idols which the poor artists make are simply copies of the stolid life around them; and the worship of the idol makes the stolidity perpetual. It is the apotheosis of inaction and of death. Hence it will be found that idolatry can secure nothing higher than ritualism, that is, the performance of rites and ceremonies for the sake of achieving a religious reputation, and not for the rake of communion with the object of worship. For in the case of the idol there can be no communion of mind with mind or of heart with heart. The form consequently is everything and the fellowship is nothing. If there be no self-righteousness promoted by the ceremony, it promotes absolutely no interest at all. Hence the whole genius of idolatry is legalism. If men are not achieving some religious reputation, they are achieving nothing at all. Paul consequently was looking back to the idolatrous life of the Galatians, and carefully analyzed it when he recognized in it the expression of a purely legal spirit.

II. THE GOSPEL PROMOTES ACQUAINTANCESHIP WITH GOD. (Ver. 9.) It seeks to bring about an interview with God. Paul's experience on the way to Damascus is typical. lie there became acquainted for the first time with Jesus Christ as his Divine Saviour. He there felt that it was nearer the truth to say that Jesus had found him than that he had found Jesus. It was true that he had come to know God in Christ, but this was the consequence of God in Christ in the first instance knowing him. Now, Paul's missionary life was to promote the same acquaintanceship among men. He wanted these Galatians to know God through realizing that God previously knew them. And he had hopes that they had entered the charmed circle of the Divine acquaintanceship. He hoped that they had experienced the truth, "Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace." This is the essence of the gospel. "This is life eternal, to know [i.e. to be acquainted with] thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

III. THE RETURN TO LEGALISM. (Vers. 9, 10.) The false teachers had come from Jerusalem to preach up the virtue of Jewish rites and ceremonies. Hence the fickle mountaineers of Galatia fell into their superstitious observances, and fancied that, if they kept carefully the Jewish calendar, with its weekly, monthly, annual, and septennial feasts and fasts, they must hereby propitiate the Supreme. Accustomed as idolaters to the making of religious reputations, they could enter the more easily into the legal spirit for which the false teachers called. And indeed there is nothing so insidious, because there is nothing so palatable to the natural heart. To be in a position to achieve a religions reputation, to win by our own hands certain characters and certain rights, is wonderfully flattering and grateful to human pride. We need to be constantly on our guard against the temptation.

1. One way is by remembering how "weak," as Paul here puts it, the elements out of which we would manufacture our reputation are. They do not bear analysis. Once we touch them with honest thought they stand in felt helplessness before us. Ceremonies which do not lead to communion with God, ceremonies which are simply to add to human pride and foster self-righteousness, are weak as water, and can only harm us.

2. We should remember also how "beggarly" they are. They can minister no wealth of thought or feeling to the superstitious soul. They are merely the instruments of bondage.

IV. THE DANGER OF THE LEGAL SPIRIT. (Ver. 11.) If Paul's preaching only resulted in such an outbreak of legalism, then he would regard his mission among them as "love's labour lost." There is no difference between the legalism of Judaism and the legalism of idolatry. Both are mere phases of self-righteousness. The gospel has missed its aim altogether if it leave people in legal bondage. The gospel is the great scheme for overthrowing self-righteousness. It emancipates the soul from the delusive hope of establishing any claim before God. It shuts us up to the acceptance of salvation as God's free gift. It deposes self and makes free grace supreme. Hence Paul's anxiety to see the Galatians brought back from legal bondage to gospel liberty. Unless they gave up their helm from ceremony, and betook themselves to hope in the Saviour alone, then they must be lost. It is most important that the exceeding danger of the legal spirit should be constantly kept in view, that we may maintain our standing on the footing of free grace. - R.M.E.

I. THE OLD HEATHENDOM. St. Paul needs to remind the Galatians of the evils of the condition from which they have been liberated. We are all inclined to gild the past with false glories, looking back with fond regret to its lost delights, while we forget the things that troubled it. Note three characteristics of this evil past.

1. Ignorance of God. The heathen were without the light, the joy, the guidance, and the help that come with the true knowledge of God. All men who are spiritually dead to God are thus heathen at heart. The heathenism that was congenital was some excuse for moral failure; for men cannot serve the God they do not know. Conduct which is pardonable in the ignorant, however, is inexcusable in those who know God.

2. The worship of those who are so gods. Man must worship. The monstrosities of heathenism are a pathetic witness to our religious nature, which, if it has not light for its healthy development, will exercise itself in the most distorted manner rather than be suppressed. But such religion is based on a delusion. The worshipper prays to what does not exist. So do all who erect their own notions of divinity and do homage to them instead of learning to serve the God of revelation.

3. Spiritual bondage. The Galatians seem to have been entangled in the toils of a mongrel religion, which combined the terrible superstitions of their Celtic forefathers with the immoral mysticism of their Phrygian neighbours. The result was a bondage at once of fear and of lust. But all heathen religions keep their devotees in subjection. Religious liberty is a fruit of Christianity.

II. THE NEW CHRISTIANITY. This was in all respects a deliverance, an advance, and an elevation. It involved great spiritual acquisitions.

1. The knowledge of God; always the first essential. We cannot trust, love, or serve a God of whose character and will we are ignorant. Any faith that precedes this knowledge is faith in the priest, not faith in God.

2. Being known of God. The apostle corrects himself. It was not enough to speak of knowing God. Though that was the first essential step towards the new life, it is not now the most characteristic feature of that life. We must not rest in the knowledge of God alone. Knowledge is not redemption. The further step is to receive the grace of sonship from God and the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ wherewith we breathe the aspiration to God as to our Father (ver. 6). Such an experience shows that we are acknowledged by God - "known of God."

III. THE RELAPSE. Is it possible that any should consciously and wilfully choose to fall from such privileges as those of the new Christianity to such bondage as that of the old heathendom? It was important that the Galatians should see that their perversion to Judaism was essentially such a relapse. The startling point of the apostle's argument lay just in this - that, with the insight of inspired genius, he saw the identity of the religion of Law which his converts regarded as a more progressive stage of Christianity with their old discarded heathenism. At first sight it might appear that austere Mosaism could have nothing in common with corrupt Phrygian orgies and gloomy Celtic sacrifices. Yet the bondage was essentially the same. They had three points in common.

1. Their rudimentary character. Both were mere beginnings. Christianity had left both behind. The advanced scholar should not waste time over the alphabet; the graduate need not matriculate afresh.

2. Their weakness. For the purpose of creating righteousness and regenerating character the Levitical Law with all its lofty morality was as impotent as the impure and horrible rites of the old Galatian cult.

3. Their poverty. Both were "beggarly." After holding the pearl of great price, it was strange that any should turn from such riches of Divine love to any other religion which, lacking the wondrous grace of the gospel, was by comparison as a beggar to a prince. Yet all make this mistake who forsake the grace and liberty of the gospel for the bondage of rites and holy days and priestly authority. - W.F.A.

St. Paul considers the observing of days, and months, and seasons, and years as so gross an instance of relapse to the weak and beggarly rudiments that he fears on that account that he may have bestowed labour in vain on the Galatians. So grave a judgment on the observance of seasons may startle us if we do not consider what the apostle really is condemning.

I. THERE IS A RIGHT REGARD FOR SEASONS. The sabbath was made for man, and it is therefore good for man that he should make use of the one day in the week that is set apart for rest and worship. Clearly if other seasons, such as Christmas, Easter, the coming of the new year, the harvest, etc., can be utilized profitably, the recognition of them may be justified on good grounds.

1. The profitable arrangement of time. There is a time for everything. Christ did not utter his parables of judgment at the wedding least in Cana. We need time for worship. Though we should ever live in the spirit of prayer, we must still have distinct seasons of undistracted devotion if our religious life is to be deep and vigorous. It often happens, moreover, that what can be done at any time is not done at all. As it is well to set aside a definite portion of one's income for charitable purposes, lest too little or even none should be left after satisfying innumerable personal claims - though really if we love our neighbour as ourselves we shall count nothing wholly our own - so, while God demands all our time, and while any season is suitable for devotion, some time must be set aside for worship, or the busy work of life will absorb the whole.

2. The exigencies of public worship. The social requirements of worship make set seasons necessary when all the worshippers can mutually agree to assemble themselves together. The same principle requires definite places of worship.

3. The influence of association. We are all more or less affected by sentiment. Birthdays, wedding-days, and death-days, days of joy and days of sorrow, are chronicled in our almanacs, and the recurrence of them naturally raises sympathetic emotions. The same applies to the great Christian anniversaries, and the power of association may help us to profit by the lessons of the Incarnation at Christmas and of the Resurrection at Easter.


1. Regarding the mere observance of the seasons as a virtue on its own account. The means receives the credit due only to the end. Mere "sabbath-keeping" is no good thing. The question is, "What good do we do or gain through use of the privileges of the day?"

2. The idea that the holy season sanctifies what would be otherwise common.

3. Making the sanctity of the day an excuse for neglecting duty. This was the fault of hypocritical Pharisees in the time of our Lord. Charity was sinned against that the sabbath might be respected.

4. Treating the religious observance of the holy season as an excuse for irreligion at other seasons. How many in Roman Catholic countries seem to think that attendance at Mass in the morning gives an indulgence for attendance at the theatre in the evening! How many Protestants seem to think that cessation from business on Sunday shows so much respect for religion that all the work of the week may be carried on in utter worldliness! Surely it is best not to put up the shutters on the first day of the week, if this act is only a piece of hypocrisy intended to cover the sin of using false weights and measures and selling adulterated goods on the other six days. In conclusion, let us remember that each man must draw the line between the harmless use and the dangerous observance of seasons for himself. It depends much on natural constitution and on early habits. If some Christians seem rather over-observant of days, those who with St. Paul regard all days, the sabbath included, as in themselves equally holy, are not to judge their weaker brethren, but to reverence their devotion and to be charitable to their failing (Romans 14:5, 6). - W.F.A.

I. AN APOSTLE MAY BESTOW LABOUR IN VAIN. If St. Paul might thus fail, we are not to be surprised when we do not meet with success. We are not responsible for the results of our work, but only for the faithfulness of our efforts.

II. A TRUE WORKMAN WILL BE ANXIOUS NOT TO BESTOW LABOUR IN VAIN. Christian work is not mere treadmill drudgery. It is labour of interest, of sympathy, of love. The servant of Christ will be anxious, not only that he may be saved, though, perhaps, "so as by fire," but that his work may be preserved

(1) for the honour of Christ;

(2) for the welfare of men;

(3) for the personal interest occasioned by self-sacrificing toil.

If we care nothing for the results of our work, this is a manifest proof that our heart is not in it, and therefore that the work will be ill done. We must earnestly desire a good harvest if ever we are to be rewarded with the sight of the ripe golden ears.

III. THE PROSPECT OF FAILURE IN WORK WILL LEAD AN EARNEST MAN TO DO ALL HE CAN TO PREVENT IT. It was the dread of such failure that called forth the whole Epistle to the Galatians from St. Paul.

1. Failure, though in prospect, may often be obviated by improved methods, for we may be ourselves to blame for the want of success that we attribute to the stubbornness of the soil. It is a mistake to be wedded to any one method. The slavery of routine is fatal to success. New emergencies demand new plans. Beware of sacrificing the work to the machinery.

2. Failure may be avoided by more earnest efforts. St. Paul expostulates with the Galatians. He exhibits something of the long-suffering of God. It is foolish and weak and wrong to despair at the first lack of success. God despairs of no soul. If we were more hopeful and more patient we should be more fruitful.

IV. IT IS LAMENTABLE TO BE IN THE CONDITION OF THOSE UPON WHOM LABOUR HAS BEEN BESTOWED IN VAIN. They who thus fail are without excuse. All that has been done for them will rise up in judgment against them. How terrible to have been privileged with the ministry of an apostle, of a St. Paul, and, in spite of all his eloquence, his zeal, his self-sacrificing devotion, his inspiration, to make shipwreck at last! We who have the New Testament in our hands have that ministry for our benefit. If after enjoying the privileges of living in a Christian country and receiving Christian teaching we fail of entering into the Christian life, all the labour spent in vain upon us will condemn us. The responsibility rests on each individual soul. It is a delusion to throw the blame on the preachers. The highest influences, even up to the preaching of a St. Paul, will fail, unless we yield our own hearts in obedience to the truth. - W.F.A.

To render Paul's appeal more emphatic, he proceeds next to remind them of the tender relations in which he had stood to them when he preached the gospel to them the first time. He had been suffering from the thorn in the flesh; he was consequently a very weak specimen when as a preacher he stood before them; but the message was so emancipating to their souls that they would have done anything for him in their gratitude. They would have even plucked out their own eyes and have given them to him. Why, then, should they turn against him when he seeks to tell them the truth? It is consequently the pathetic appeal of the apostle to those who had once been so interested in him.

I. PAUL'S EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. (Ver. 12.) He wants the Galatians to be as he is, for he is as the Gentiles are so far as legalism is concerned. How did Paul act among the Gentiles? Not certainly as Peter had done at Antioch, in a vacillating spirit. He sat down deliberately at the tables of the heathen and carried no Jewish scruples into Gentile society. The ceremonial Law did not bind him to keep his converts at arm's length or to insist on their submission to Jewish scruples. He felt that Jesus had fulfilled for him all righteousness, and that he was consequently free from the ceremonial yoke. Hence with the greatest breadth of view and consistency, Paul acted the free and social part among the heathen.

II. PAUL'S APPEAL FOR SOMETHING LIKE THE OLD SYMPATHY. (Vers. 13-15.) He had appeared among them in a suffering condition. The "thorn in the flesh," which bad been sent to buffet him and keep him humble, had manifested itself in full force. There is every reason to believe that it consisted in weak eyes, which never recovered the shock on the way to Damascus. But the weak-eyed, despicable-looking preacher (2 Corinthians 10:10) had got an admirable reception in Galatia. His hearers so sympathized with his message as to forget his outward weakness, nay, rather to so sympathize with him in it as to be ready to pluck out their own eyes and give them to him, if it had been possible. The poor preacher was in their estimation an angel of God, and was received with the same consideration as they would have extended to Christ Jesus himself. This was admirable. And Paul wishes them to revive this sympathy for him and lead them along the path of liberty he himself is treading. How deep and pathetic the true sympathy between pastor and people ought to be I

III. THE UNREASONABLE CHARACTER OF THEIR PRESENT ANTIPATHY. (Ver. 16.) Because of Paul's faithfulness they are inclined to resent his interference with their legalism as a hostile act. But he would have them to analyze their antipathy fairly and to own how unreasonable it is. And yet this has been the fate of faithful men in all ages. They are hated because they tell the truth. The unreasonableness of antipathy to a man who tells us God's truth may be seen in at least three particulars.

1. Because the truth sanctifies (John 17:19).

2. Because the truth makes men free (John 8:32).

3. Because the truth saves (1 Timothy 2:4).

IV. ATTENTION MAY BE MISINTERPRETED, (Vers. 17, 18.) The false teachers were assiduous in their attentions to Paul's converts. They could not make enough of them. But Paul saw through their designs. Hence he declares, "They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them" (Revised Version). It was a zeal to get the Galatians under their power; it was to make them ritualists of the Jewish type, and so amenable to their Jewish authority and direction. Young converts require warning against the designs of zealots whose prerogative it is to curtail Christian liberty and put the simple under bondage. Now, Paul had paid all sorts of attention to the Galatians. He compares himself to a mother who had travailed with them and would consequently nurse them with the utmost tenderness. He courts comparison between his attentions and those of the false teachers. He more than insinuates that they are receiving different treatment at their hands than they did when he was present with them. It is only fair and right that attention should be weighed in the balances carefully, and a selfish fuss not be confounded with an unselfish and disinterested enthusiasm.

V. A PASTOR'S SPIRITUAL ANXIETIES ABOUT HIS PEOPLE. (Vers. 19, 20.) Paul had been in agony for their conversion when in Galatia. But their legalism has thrown him into perplexity about them. His agony, like a woman's travail, has to be repeated. He will not be content till Christ is formed within them as their true Hope of glory. He wishes he were present with them once again and were able by tender, maternal tones to convince them of the unselfish interest he has in them. The whole case is instructive as showing how painful is the interest of a true pastor in his flock and to what straits their waywardness may reduce him. A mother's anxieties should summon a pastor to an enthusiasm of affection for those committed to his charge. - R.M.E.

I. HE ASKS RECIPROCITY. "I beseech you, brethren, be as I am, for I am as ye are." Born a Jew, in accommodation to them he had taken up the Gentile position, i.e. in respect of freedom from Jewish ordinances. Let them, as brethren, show reciprocity. Let them give up their adopted Jewish practices and occupy the Gentile position along with him.


1. Negatively. "Ye did me no wrong." He was free to confess that he had no ground of personal complaint against them.

2. Positively.

(1) It was an infirmity of the flesh that was the occasion of the first of his two visits to them. "But ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you the first time." This infirmity of the flesh is not mentioned by name, and has given rise to conjecture, with which subjective feeling has mingled. When the Church was persecuted, it was supposed to be persecution. The monks supposed it to be carnal thoughts. Luther supposed it to be a temptation of the devil. The language plainly points to a bodily malady. Regarding the first visit of Paul to Galatia we read, "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to speak the Word in Asia." It may be understood that it was by means of the bodily malady that the Holy Ghost forbade his preaching in Asia and at the same time directed his way into Galatia. And it was while detained by the malady that he preached the gospel to the Galatians.

(2) His infirmity proved no hindrance to them. "And that which was a temptation to you in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." That which was in his flesh was a temptation to them. It was something which made trial of them. While it did not wholly silence him, it interfered with him as a public speaker. It might have led him to be despised or rejected (the latter word, literally "spit out," pointing to a more active form of contempt). It is a wrong thing to despise any one because of what God has made him; but want of good feeling might have led them to turn his infirmity into ridicule; or their ignorance as barbarians might have led them to think that he was spurned of the gods, and therefore to be spurned of them. Instead of yielding to the temptation, however, and throwing contempt upon him because of his infirmity, they received him as though he had been an angel sent to them from heaven; nay, they received him as though he had been Christ himself. Their Celtic emotionalism came out in the reception they gave him. It gave, as we have seen, a peculiar vividness to the message. It was as though Christ had been actually crucified before their eyes. So it threw a peculiar halo round the preacher. They warmed toward him and heaped kindnesses on him, as though it had been the Master himself.

III. HE CONTRASTS THEIR PRESENT WITH THEIR PAST FEELING TOWARD HIM. "Where then is that gratulation of yourselves? for I bear you witness, that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." There was no more gratulation of themselves because by a singular providence Paul had found his way among them with the gospel. Their Celtic realism was gone. That realism had gone to a great length. If it had been possible they would have plucked out their eyes to have given them to Paul. This language seems to point to an affection of the eyes as the malady from which Paul suffered. This supposition agrees with the conditions. It was just such a malady as would interfere with his comfort and effectiveness as a speaker, while not reducing him to silence. It was just such an occasion as the Celtic nature would seize and work upon. To make the gospel messenger freer for his work, they would gladly have parted with their very eyes, to make up for his deficiencies. And it was only the impossibility of thus serving Paul that kept them back from the sacrifice. The thorn in the flesh, as following upon Paul being in the third heavens, and as pointing to something acute, agrees with the supposition of his being a sufferer from an affection of the eyes. Whether we interpret the words here as deriving point from a weakness of Paul's eyes or not, they are manifestly expressive of a very warm feeling toward him, which now seems to him to have fled.


1. His fidelity. "So then am I become your enemy, because I toll you the truth?" He had told them the truth on the occasion of his second visit. He had also been telling them the truth, with a certain sharpness, in this letter. That showed that he was no flatterer of them to gain his own ends. He did not believe in friendly relations being maintained unless on a basis of reality. Was it, then, a reasonable thing that he should be regarded by them as their enemy, as standing between them and their good, because he expressed himself according to the demands and under the restraints of truth? Was there any ground which could be stated for their change of feeling?

2. The dishonourableness of the Judaizing teachers. "They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them." He refers to the false teachers, whom, with a certain feeling of dignity, he does not name. They made the Galatians the objects of their zealous attentions. But they did not do this in a disinterested manner. Their object was to shut the Galatians out, i.e. to isolate them from Paul and the Christian circle, so as to become themselves the exclusive objects of the zealous attentions of the Galatians. They were thus mere flatterers, to gain their own ends. Instead of placing themselves under the restraints of truth, they gave themselves the licence of error. While condemning them on this ground, the apostle makes a twofold reservation.

(1) He is not to be condemned who makes others the objects of his zealous attentions in a good matter. "But it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter." We condemn those who would compass sea and land to make one proselyte. But it is to be borne in mind that the zeal is a good thing in itself. What is to be condemned is misdirected zeal. And what is to be commended is, not the want of zeal, but zeal intelligently directed toward the good, especially the highest good, of others. Let the soul be on fire with a desire to do good. Let there be a compassing sea and land, not to make proselytes, but to bring souls to Christ. And we are not certainly to resent, but to welcome, the zealous attentions of others in the matter of our salvation. We ought to be thankful that we are not let alone, but that there are those who care for our souls.

(2) He did not lay any claim to exclude others from seeking the good of the Galatians. "At all times, and not only when I am present with you." If others sought the real good of the Galatians in his absence, he had no feeling of jealousy toward them. On the contrary, he would bid them God-speed.


1. Affectionate address. "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you." He addresses them, not as children, but, more tenderly, as little children, after the manner of John. He was not as a father to them (according to the conception here), but, more tenderly, as a mother. He had endured much in prayer and thought and service on their account. And he had thought that his motherly endurance had been rewarded in their spiritual birth. But it was as if he had been disappointed in them. And there was the recurrence of the same motherly endurance on their account. The object for which he endured was their spiritual birth. This is not thought of as the development of self, even of their true self. Nor is it thought of as a Pauline development, the accepting of a Pauline doctrine, the being recipient of Pauline influences. But it is thought of as the development of the Christ within them. Christians are those who have Christ as the Germ and Norm of their development.

2. Reason for his presence. "Yea, I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I am perplexed about you." He wished to be present with them, in the hope that he would be able to bring back the old relations between them. In that case he would be able to change his voice, to adopt a gentler tone, which was more congenial to him and would be more pleasant to them. Meantime, he could not be all gentleness, for his information led him to be perplexed about them. He had not given up all hope of them, but the fears he had sometimes made his voice to grate on them, as it was not pleasant to himself. - R.F.

On his first visit to Galatia, St. Paul was received, so he tells us, "as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." He paid, it appears, a second visit to the province, and then the fickle people treated him with coldness and suspicion because he found it necessary to point out their faults and the danger of them, as though he had become their enemy solely because he told them the truth. This narrow and unfair conduct of the Galatians is only too common to human nature. The causes of it are worth examining, and the evil of it being detected as a warning against a repetition of the same egregious blunder.

I. IT IS SOMETIMES THE DUTY OF THE PREACHER TO TELL UNPLEASANT TRUTHS. It is a mistake to suppose that because he has a gospel to declare he must let only honied phrases fall from his lips. Jeremiah set up the prophesying of smooth things as the one sure test of a false prophet (Jeremiah 28:8, 9). John the Baptist prepared for the gospel by denouncing the sins of his fellow-countrymen. Christ uttered some of the most terrible words ever spoken (e.g. Matthew 23:33). The Church has been too much pampered with comforting words. We need more preaching to the conscience.

1. There are unpleasant truths. Nature is not all roses and lilies; nettles and vipers exist. The page of history is blotted with tears and blood. There are many ugly facts in our own past experience.

2. The great ground on which the preacher is required to utter unpleasant truths is that we are all sinners. The doctor who describes the eases in a hospital must say much about terrible diseases.

3. The purpose for which it is necessary to utter painful truths is to lead to repentance. It is not done merely to give pain nor to drive to despair. The lightning flash reveals the precipice that the unwary traveller may start back from destruction. Until we know ourselves to be in the wrong way we shall not turn to a better.

II. THE PREACHER OF UNPLEASANT TRUTHS MUST EXPECT TO BE TREATED AS AN ENEMY BY THE VERY MEN HE IS TRYING TO HELP. This has been the case all the world over with the prophets of Israel, John the Baptist, the apostles, reformers in every age, and, above all, Christ himself, who was crucified simply because he told truths that stung the Jews to madness. The noblest heroes of the "noble army of martyrs" suffered on this account. It is well to understand and be ready for such treatment even in the milder form which it generally assumes in our own day. it can be explained, though of course it cannot be justified. It may be traced to the following causes: -

1. The influences of association. The messenger of ill tidings is hated for his message. Milton calls the bird that foretells "a hapless doom" "a rude bird of hate."

2. Misinterpretation. It is assumed that the preacher wishes trouble because he predicts it, that he has pleasure in humiliating us by revealing our faults.

3. A corrupt conscience. Men often refuse to admit unpleasant truths about themselves, treat them as libels and the preachers of them as libellers of the race.


1. It is foolish. Truth is not the less true because we are blind to it. The revelation of its existence is not the creation of it.

2. It is unjust. The faithful servant of Christ, like his Master, will wish nothing but good to those whose guilt he denounces. He is the enemy of the sin just because he is the Friend of the sinner.

3. It is ungenerous. It is always a thankless task to tell unpleasant truths. For a man of kindly disposition it is a most painful task. Be undertakes it for the good of his friends. It would have been much more pleasant for St. Paul to have retained his popularity at the expense of the Church's welfare. He is an ungrateful patient who treats as an enemy the surgeon who hurts only that he may heal. - W.F.A.

Paul now passes from a personal appeal to an allegorical argument from the Law. As legalists, they are asked it' they will not hear the Law which in its history really condemns them as children of the bondwoman and not children of the freewoman. For such an allegorical interpretation we are content with Paul's authority, since he was inspired of God in his handling of Scripture as well as in writing additions to it. His rabbinical education would incline him to allegory; but we would not in consequence take any liberties with Scripture on the same track. Still, as we face the history as given in Genesis 21. with Paul's help in our hands, it gives a very interesting and beautiful application of it.

I. LET US CONSIDER THE CHILD OF THE BONDWOMAN IN HIS EARLY YEARS. (Ver. 23.) Ishmael, as the child of Abraham, had for thirteen years a happy and interesting life. He was the issue of a union promoted by Sarah in her own despair. Upon him the patriarch looked with all an old man's pride; and, had not God expressly forbidden it, Abraham would have looked no further than Ishmael for a son and heir. Hagar naturally played the haughty part before her mistress and despised the beautiful woman because of her barrenness. But as soon as Isaac came to gladden the aged pair, Hagar and Ishmael fell of necessity into the background. In due time there is the weaning feast. "Hagar and her son heard the merriment," says Robertson, "and it was gall to their wounded spirits; it looked like intentional insult; for Ishmael had been the heir presumptive, but now, by the birth of Isaac, had become a mere slave and dependant; and the son of Hagar mocked at the joy in which he could not partake." Now, Ishmael all these years was the type of the legalist who prides himself on his observance of the ceremonies. Just as the boy thought that he was son and heir by undisputed right and title, so the legal spirit imagines that in God's house his rights cannot be disregarded. In the pride of self-satisfaction he sees no rival in the house and is disposed to brook none. And yet a touch of fate will make him realize at once his slavery and outcast condition.

II. CONSIDER NEXT THE SON OF PROMISE. (Ver. 23.) But for the promise of God, Isaac never would have been born. He belonged consequently to a different order from Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of nature; Isaac was the product of grace. In this Isaac is the type of the son of the gospel, as Ishmael is the type of the son of the Law. Isaac is born to freedom, to honour, to inheritance; while Ishmael is cast out as the slave who has no recognized rights in the household. So is it with the free-born son of the gospel as contrasted with the legalists of Paul's time. The believer is God's son through the freewoman; he has his inalienable rights in God's household; he may be persecuted and mocked by the Ishmaels who are but bondslaves; but he is destined to keep the field of privilege in spite of foes and triumph over them at last.

III. LEGALISM AND GOSPEL FREEDOM ARE INCOMPATIBLE. (Vers. 24-30.) One house could not hold both Ishmael and Isaac. They could not get on together. No more can the legal and the gospel spirit. Self-righteousness and faith in Christ are irreconcilable. Hence the war between the legalists and the apostle. It was war to the bitter end. The principles are antagonistic, and the one must triumph over the other. And liberty is sure to triumph over legalism in the end, as Isaac triumphed over Ishmael.

IV. THE CONSEQUENT DUTY OF MAINTAINING OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. (Galatians 5:1.) Paul calls upon the Galatians not to go back to bondage, but to maintain the freedom which Christ has given them. If he has fulfilled the ceremonies, why should they go back to the bondage of observances? If they are born as children of promise, why go back to the birth of bondslaves? It is like emancipated slaves insisting on surrendering their freedom. What the liberty bestowed by Christ is in its length and breadth may be realized from the close and climax of one of Liddon's masterly sermons. "It is freedom from a sense of sin, when all is known to have been pardoned through the atoning blood; freedom from a slavish fear of our Father in heaven, when conscience is offered to his unerring eye morning and evening by that penitent love which fixes its eye upon the Crucified; freedom from current prejudice and false human opinion, when the soul gazes by intuitive faith upon the actual truth; freedom from the depressing yoke of weak health or narrow circumstances, since the soul cannot be crushed which rests consciously upon the everlasting arms; freedom from that haunting fear of death, which holds those who think really upon death at all,' all their lifetime subject to bondage,' unless they are his true friends and clients who by the sharpness of his own death ' opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.' It is freedom in time, but also and beyond freedom in eternity." May we realize our rights as children of the free! - R.M.E.

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law, do ye not hear the Law? He conceives of them as men who could not do without the bondage of the Mosaic Law, and he wilt read their condemnation out of the Pentateuch, in which that Law is contained.

I. HISTORY ON WHICH THE ALLEGORY IS FOUNDED. "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. Howbeit, the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise." The two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, had the same father. They differed in two respects.

1. Ishmael was by the handmaid, Hagar; Isaac was by the freewoman, Sarah.

2. Ishmael was born after the flesh, i.e. according to the ordinary course of nature. That there is not excluded from "flesh" a certain ethical meaning is seen from its being opposed in the twenty-ninth verse to the Spirit. Isaac was born through promise, i.e. through the Divine efficiency present in the promise, surmounting natural obstacles.

II. ALLEGORY. "Which things contain an allegory." By "which things" we are to understand, not merely those which have been mentioned, but the whole class of things pertaining to Hagar and Sarah. Allegorizing is explaining one thing by another. In this case there is the plain historical meaning to begin with. Upon that there is imposed a second meaning. We are not to understand that the apostle evolved this second meaning out of his own thoughts. But God really meant more than the historical meaning. It is true that God thinks through all history; especially does he make known his thoughts through sacred history. More particularly in his dealings with Hagar and Sarah he intended to indicate what his dealings were to be with others, represented by them. "For these women are two covenants."

1. Hagar.

(1) She represented the Sinaitic covenant. "One from Mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar." Hagar was an Egyptian bondwoman in the household of Abraham. To the mind of God, she represented the Sinaitic covenant. As Hagar bare children unto bondage, so the Sinaitic covenant bare children unto bondage. A remark is made regarding the locality of Sinai. "Now this [the thing] Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia." Mount Sinai is situated in Arabia. This country is inhabited by the descendants of Hagar. The Arabs to this day regard themselves as the sons of Hagar. It was a country with which Paul had been made familiar during his residence in it for three years after his conversion. Once, in its lightnings, and thunderings, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest, Mount Sinai had been made to body forth the terrors of the Law. As Paul had felt it in its oppressive blackness and ruggedness, it seemed to body forth sufficiently the despair of the Law. It was a fit locality for bondmen.

(2) The Sinaitic covenant answered to the Jewish Church. "And answereth to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children." The Sinaitic covenant answered to the literal Jerusalem that was then standing, i.e. the Jewish Church. What was true regarding the Sinaitic covenant was true also regarding the Jewish Church, which was its embodiment. The bondwoman represented both. The Jewish nation at that time was a mother whose children were born to pass under the Roman yoke. So viewed ecclesiastically it was a mother whose children were born to pass under a yoke more grievous than the Roman.

2. Sarah. "The other is from Mount Zion, bearing children unto freedom, which is Sarah. Now this Sarah is Mount Zion in the Holy Land, and answereth to the Jerusalem that is above, for she is free with her children." That, we may suppose, is how the allegory would have run if it had been fully drawn out. It has already been stated that Sarah represents the other covenant, i.e. the gospel covenant. And it may be regarded as implied that, as Sinai breathed the spirit of despair, so Zion breathed the spirit of hope. But all that the apostle does here, is at once to oppose the Christian Church to the Jewish Church. "But the Jerusalem which is above." Opposed to the literal Jerusalem, which was then undestroyed, was the spiritual and indestructible Jerusalem, of which even now we are regarded as citizens.

(1) The Christian Church regarded as a mother. It has three marks.

(a) It is free. "Is free, which is our mother." We are taught to think of the Church as our mother. We are the Church's sons, through the efficiency of Christ in the Church and its services. All our well-springs are in the Church. It is of Zion that it is said, "This man and that man was born in her." The Church of Christ is represented by the freewoman. We are taught to regard it as the home of freedom. We feel free in our covenant position before God, in our immediate relation to him, and in our glorious prospects.

(b) It has a numerous offspring. "For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath the husband." This is a quotation from Isaiah 54:1. In the same prophecy (Isaiah 51:2) use is made of God giving Abraham and Sarah a numerous offspring. In this language the prophet makes use of Sarah having a more numerous people descended from her than Hagar. And what the apostle does in quoting it is to give the fact another application. The Church represented by the desolate Sarah is to have a more numerous offspring than the Church represented by the favoured Hagar.

(c) It has an offspring according to promise. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise." We are not certainly children according to the course of nature, or in virtue of influences that belong to our nature. We are children through the Divine influences that are efficient in the gospel surmounting great natural obstacles. We are miraculously, supernaturally born.

(2) An instructive parallel added.

(a) The persecutors. "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was horn after the Spirit, even so it is now." It is said, in connection with a festival in honour of the weaning of Isaac, that Sarah saw the son of Hagar, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. This little circumstance is referred to here, not so much for what it was in itself, as for its foreshadowing the bearing of the Arab tribes toward the Israelites. As the descendants of Ishmael persecuted the descendants of Isaac, so in the apostle's day did the Jews persecute the Christians. It was a well-known fact that they were the bitterest enemies of the Christians and were the principal instigators of persecution against them.

(b) Their fate foreshadowed. "Howbeit what saith the Scripture? Cast out the handmaid and her son; for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman." Ishmael could not be allowed to live in the same house with Isaac. He had to be cast out and was no sharer of the inheritance with him. So the Jewish Church and the Christian Church could not coexist. Jews could only be in the Church as Christians. As Jews they were cast out of the special covenant position, the stern reality of which was soon to be made evident in the destruction of Jerusalem and the breaking up of the Jewish nationality.

(3) General conclusion regarding our slate o/freedom. "Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman." Exhortation founded on it.

(a) To maintain our freedom. "With freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore." We owe our freedom to Christ. And it can be said that with a great price have we obtained our freedom, that price being his blood. We are not, therefore, to treat lightly what has been so dearly won. We must show our sense of it by maintaining it in its entirety.

(b) To eschew bondage. "And be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." They had formerly been under the yoke of heathenism; they were not to put themselves under the similar yoke of Judaism. A slave who has been liberated does not voluntarily put himself into the hardships he has left. So they who had experienced the sweets of Christian liberty were not to go back to bonds. - R.F.

Writing to men who were unduly subservient to the Jewish Law, St. Paul clenches his argument with an appeal to what he regards as the typical meaning of the history contained in that very Law. This was an argumentum ad homines. It is important, when possible, to convince men on their own ground. Among believers in Scripture, arguments are naturally drawn from Scripture, Only it is necessary to bear in mind that there are different "views ' of Scripture; so that we must not be impatient if the dogmatic assertion of our own interpretation as Scripture itself is not acquiesced in. To many the allegory of Hagar seems to be an illustration rather than an argument. A reference to it is chiefly useful to move our sympathies. It needs to be preceded by solid reasoning founded on direct statements of Scripture. Thus St. Paul argues from the history of Abraham (Galatians 3:6) before making use of the typical significance of Hagar.

I. BOTH SARAH AND HAGAR WERE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF ABRAHAM. The very honours conferred upon Hagar led to her ultimate rejection from the home through the spirit of insubordination they bred in her. The Law was given by God. We must not assume that all things of Divine origin possess equal value, nor because a thing is only intended for some lower use and is set aside when that use has been made of it, that it is therefore inherently bad and cannot have come from God.

II. HAGAR WAS ONLY A BONDWOMAN, WHILE SARAH WAS A WIFE AND A FREEWOMAN. Herein is a type of the fundamental distinction between the Law and the gospel.

1. The Law imposes bondage

(1) to constraint and compulsion;

(2) to definite precepts and irksome details; and

(3) to the burden of past transgression and omissions.

2. The gospel brings freedom

(1) in forgiveness of the past and justification by faith for the future;

(2) in revealing general principles of righteousness and giving us liberty to apply them for ourselves; and

(3) in infusing love as the motive of obedience.

III. ISHMAEL WAS A SLAVE, WHILE ISAAC WAS FREE. The children took the status of their mothers. We enjoy only the privileges of the religion under which we live. The Law cannot develop liberty. As it is a system of bondage, all who follow it lose their freedom, whether they will or no. The gospel confers liberty on all who accept it-even on those who at first have not faith, or hope, or desire to be free.

IV. ISAAC ONLY RECEIVED THE PROMISE. God's blessing comes to the free soul. If we cling to our fetters we lose the grace of God. Liberty is the parent of innumerable good things, politically, socially, religiously. As we free ourselves from superstition and needless restraints we rise into the healthy atmosphere where the largest Divine blessings flourish.

V. ISHMAEL WAS FINALLY CAST OUT. The Law, having done its part, is discarded. The Jews lost their peculiar position as the central spiritual light of their age when their mission was completed. The tutelage of Law may be useful for a time, but to dwell in it perpetually will be to become ultimately castaways. - W.F.A.

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