They glorified God in me - Hearing now that I preached that faith which before I had persecuted and endeavored to destroy, they glorified God for the grace which had wrought my conversion. I owe nothing to them; I owe all to God; and they themselves acknowledge this. I received all from God, and God has all the glory.
1.It appeared of great importance to St. Paul to defend and vindicate his Divine mission. As he had none from man, it was the more necessary that he should be able to show plainly that he had one from God. Paul was not brought into the Christian ministry by any rite ever used in the Christian Church. Neither bishop nor presbyter ever laid hands on him; and he is more anxious to Proverbs this, because his chief honor arose from being sent immediately by God himself: his conversion and the purity of his doctrine showed whence he came. Many since his time, and in the present day, are far more anxious to show that they are legitimately appointed by Man than by God; and are fond of displaying their human credentials. These are easily shown; those that come from God are out of their reach. How idle and vain is a boasted succession from the apostles, while ignorance, intolerance, pride, and vain-glory Proverbs that those very persons have no commission from heaven! Endless cases may occur where man sends and yet God will not sanction. And that man has no right to preach, nor administer the sacraments of the Church of Christ, whom God has not sent; though the whole assembly of apostles had laid their hands on him. God never sent, and never will send, to convert others, a man who is not converted himself. He will never send him to teach meekness, gentleness, and long suffering, who is proud, overbearing, intolerant, and impatient. He, in whom the Spirit of Christ does not dwell, never had a commission to preach the Gospel; he may boast of his human authority, but God will laugh him to scorn. On the other hand, let none run before he is sent; and when he has got the authority of God, let him be careful to take that of the Church with him also.
2.The apostle was particularly anxious that the Gospel should not be corrupted, that the Church might not be perverted. Whatever corrupts the Gospel, subverts the Church. The Church is a spiritual building, and stands on a spiritual foundation. Its members are compared to stones in a building, but they are living stones - each instinct with the spirit of a Divine life; Jesus is not only the foundation and the head-stone, but the spirit that quickens and animates all. A Church, where the members are not alive to God, and where the minister is not filled with the meekness and gentleness of Jesus, differs as much from a genuine Church as a corpse does from an active human being. False teachers in Galatia corrupted the Church, by introducing those Jewish ceremonies which God had abolished; and the doctrine of justification by the use of those ceremonies which God had shown by the death of his Son to be of none effect. "If those," says Quesnel, "are justly said to pervert the Gospel of Christ, who were for joining with it human ceremonies which God himself instituted, what do those do, who would fondly reconcile and blend it with the pomps of the devil? The purity of the Gospel cannot admit of any mixture. Those who do not love it, are so far from building up that they trouble and overturn all. There is no ground of trust and confidence for such workmen."
3.If he be a dangerous man in the Church who introduces Jewish or human ceremonies which God has not appointed, how much more is he to be dreaded who introduces any false doctrine, or who labors to undermine or lessen the influence of that which is true? And even he who does not faithfully and earnestly preach and inculcate the true doctrine is not a true pastor. It is not sufficient that a man preach no error; he must preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
4.How is it that we have so many Churches like those in Galatia? Is it not because, on one hand, we disturb the simplicity of the Christian worship by Jewish, heathenish, or improper rites and ceremonies; and on the other, corrupt the purity of its doctrines by the inventions of men? How does the apostle speak of such corrupters? Let them be accursed. How awful is this! Let every man who officiates as a Christian minister look well to this. His own soul is at stake; and, if any of the flock perish through his ignorance or neglect, their blood will God require at the watchman' s hand.
5.St. Paul well knew that, if he endeavored to please man, he could not be the servant of Christ. Can any minor minister hope to succeed, where even an apostle, had he followed that line, could not? The interests of Christ and those of the world are so opposite, that it is impossible to reconcile them; and he who attempts it shows thereby that he knows neither Christ nor the world, though so deeply immersed in the spirit of the latter.
6.God generally confounds the expectations of men-pleasing ministers; they never ultimately succeed even with men. God abhors them, and those whom they have flattered find them to be dishonest, and cease to trust them. He who is unfaithful to his God should not be trusted by man.
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