Gal. V. 18. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. TO understand these words aright, we must notice, first the general scope of the whole epistle, and then, the particular scope of the more immediate context. The epistle itself was written to establish the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without the deeds of the law ; in opposition to the Judaizing teachers, who insisted on the necessity of observing the Jewish ritual, in order to form a justifying righteousness, or, at all events, to increase and confirm their interest in Christ. In support of his argument, the Apostle shews, that though the Law was, as a preparatory dispensation, subservient to the Gospel, it was, as a ground of hope before God, directly opposed to the Gospel; so that they could not consist together, either in whole or in part ; and any attempt to blend the Law with the Gospel would invalidate the Gospel altogether, and render " Christ himself of no effect ^" But, as this controversy had been carried on with great vehemence, and had produced a very grievous irritation in the minds of the contending parties, St. Paul, after establishing the truth on a basis that could not be shaken, and enjoining his converts to " stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and on no account to suffer themselves to be entangled any more with the yoke of bondage," goes on to say, " Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty : only use not liberty for au occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another : for all the law is fulfilled in one word. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But, if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say, then. Walk in

the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit a ver. 2, 4.

2084.^ THE CHRISTIA FREED FROM THE LAW. 227 against the flesh : and these are contrary the one to the other ; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would ; but, if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." This, you perceive, is the immediate context, wherein the Apostle cautions the Galatians against either abusing their liberty, or maintaining it with an unchristian spirit ; since, if they acted as became their holy profession, they would exercise nothing but love, either towards their friends or their enemies. And this he trusted they would do ; because they had within themselves a spiritual principle, which, though strongly and perseveringly opposed by the carnal principle yet remaining in them, would ultimately prevail : and the effectual operation of that better principle would be sufficient of itself to prove that they were not under the law ; since the law could never accomplish so blessed a work ; whereas the very design of the Gospel, and its invariable effect, was to produce it. The dominance of the better principle was a proof that they were " not under the law, but under grace ^" This I apprehend to be the precise import of the passage before us : wherein we see a state presumed ; namely, that the true Christian is " led by the Spirit:" and a piivilege inseparably connected with that state ; namely, that the person so living is not under the law. To these points I will now address myself, in their order.

Let us first notice, I. The state presumed — It is here taken for granted, that every child of God " is led by the Spirit." But, whether we are to understand this expression as referring to the Holy Ghost, or to that spiritual principle which is infused into us by the Spirit of God, it is not easy to determine. I rather prefer the latter sense, as more immediately suggested by the context : and it is certain that our Lord speaks of that divine principle ^ Rom. vi. 14.



228 GALATIA S, V. 18. [2084. under the very term which is here used ; " That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit''" By being " led by the Spirit," then, I understand the being under the influence of a spiritual principle, in opposition to that carnal principle which directs and governs the natural man. And this really characterizes every true Christian. ot only does he possess a new and spiritual nature ; but in him, 1. It gains the ascendant — [We acknowledge, that in him the old man still remains ; and that the law of sin still works in his members, to bring

forth fruit unto death. But there is in him a new man, a law in his mind, which counteracts his evil propensities, and enables him finally to overcome them. True, indeed, the conflict is often severe ; and the saint will at all times be constrained to say, " The good which I would, I do not ; and the evil which I would not, that I do." Still, however, through grace he gains the victory over his corruptions, and is daily renewed in the spirit of his mind after the Divine image. Though tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil, " he triumphs over them all in Christ Jesus'^ ;" and with his groans for more entire deliverance mingles this song of praise, " Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ e ! "] 2. It forms his taste — [Outward victory may be gained to a great extent, whilst 5'et the heart remains unchanged. But where this new principle really exists, the man will hate the things which once he loved, and love the things which once he hated. Though he may still be tempted in a variety of ways, he will feel, in a measure, as our Lord himself did under the temptations of Satan. There will be less of the inflammable matter in his soul for the fiery darts of Satan to fix upon ; and a greater plenty of water at hand, even of the Spirit of God, to counteract the first action of the fire upon his soul. There will also be a greater delight in heavenly things ; so that he will engage in them with greater ease, and find himself more in his element, when employed in holy exercises. We may conceive what would be the taste of an angel, if sent down to sojourn for a time on earth ; with what indifference he would behold the things of time and sense ; and with what a zest he would perform the will of God : and thus the true Christian, though fiir, alas! from any thing like angelic attainments, will lose his «= John iii. 6. ^2 Cor. ii. 14. e Rom. vii. 24, 25.


relish for the things which he once affected, and will savour those things only which are suited to the spiritual mind. And this will serve him as a criterion whereby to judge of his state before God. He may for a time be driven, by the force of temptation, from that which his soul supremely affects, even as the needle may be forced from its wonted rest : but let the opportunity once return for the discovery of his real feelings, and he will turn to his God, even as the needle to the pole : and by that he will shew whose attractions he delights in, and whose motions he obeys.] 3. It regulates his life — [The aberrations of the more advanced Christian will be comparatively small and transient. Though in the world, he will not be of the world. Whether he move amongst the higher classes, or in the humblest walk of life, there will be a consistency about him : he will be " the man of God" in all places, and in all situations : " he will shine as a light in a dark world ;" and " his light will shine more and more unto the perfect day." The spiritual principle within him is compared by our Lord to a fountain of water ; which pours not out its streams like an engine wrought upon from without ; but sends them forth by a power from within, and "springs up, as it were, unto everlasting life." Behold him day or night, and he is still the same ; a blessing to the world, an ornament to his profession, an honour to his God.] Let not any one suppose that this is an imaginary character, drawn only to serve a purpose : it is a real character ; and, though doubtless it exists in different degrees, it really distinguishes every child of God : and in my text we see, IL The privilege inseparably connected with it — He is not under the law — [He has nothing to fear from its curses; because the

Saviour, in whom he has believed, and from whom he has received the gift of the Holy Ghost, has borne them for him. He has no dependence on its promises ; seeing that he has a better righteousness than that can ever afford to fallen man ; even the righteousness of Christ himself imputed to him, and made his by faith. ot even its commands have the same terrific influence on his mind which they had in his unconverted state. For though he still feels bound to obey them, he does not obey them with the same slavish fear which once oppressed his mind : they are no longer to him the terms of salvation, on a perfect compliance with which his everlasting

230 GALATIA S, V. 18. [2084. happiness depends : they are to him rather the expressions of his Father's will, which it is the joy of his soul to fulfil and execute. His real state in relation to the law, is like that of a woman to her deceased husband. He was once altogether under its authority, whilst in his unconverted state ; but when he embraced the Gospel, the Law became dead with respect to him, and he dead with respect to it : and, though he still makes it the rule of his life, he obeys it through grace communicated to him by the Lord Jesus ; to whom, as a woman on her second marriage, he now bears fruit unto holiness^.] Of his liberation from the law he has within himself a clear and decisive evidence — [This T conceive to be the true meaning of my text. He is under the prevailing influence of the Holy Spirit, and of a new nature implanted by him : but " whence did he receive the Holy Spirit ? Was it under the law, or by the hearing of faiths?" It was by the hearing of faith, no doubt; that is, by the Gospel of Christ, who purchased for his people the gift of the Holy Spirit, and who sends forth his Spirit upon all who believe in him'^. " What the law could not do for him, in that it was weak through the flesh, the Gospel has done : " it has destroyed the power of sin " within him ; and enabled him to

" walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit'." Hence he is assured that " there is no condemnation to him :" for if " the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus have made him free from the law of sin," it has also freed him from *' death," which is the consequence of sin'^. Behold, then, the liberty into which he is introduced : " Being delivered from the power of darkness, he is translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son ^ ;" and, " being made free by him, he is become free indeed™."] From this subject, I cannot but urge upon you two words of ADVICE : 1. Take care that your principles are pure and evangelical — [It is thought by many, that if our outward conduct be correct, we need not be under any anxiety resecting the principles which we profess. But, is it of no consequence whether we continue under the law, or whether we embrace the Gospel ? Are we not expressly told, that " as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse" ?" Are we not also told, that " God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, f Rom. vii. 1 — 4. s Gal. iii. 2. h Gal. ill. 14. i Rom. viii. 3, 4. i^ Rom. viii. 1, 2. ' Col. i. 13. m John viii. 36. " Gal. iii. 10.

2084.] THE CHRISTIA FREED FROM THE LAW. 2,j 1 made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons°?" Is it of no importance, then, whether we lie under this curse, or be redeemed from it? Would God have used such means for our redemption, if it had been a matter of indifference whether we were redeemed or not? Take the Apostle Paul in his unconverted state: "he was, as touching the righteousness

which was in the law blamelessP :" but yet he found afterwards, that, had he died in his unconverted state, he must have perished for ever^. So, indeed, must all of you, who cleave to the law as a covenant of works, instead of laying hold of the covenant of grace. othing can be more clearly declared than this : Be your advantages or attainments what they may, if you go about to establish your own righteousness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God, you must perish"^. The very law itself is intended to " lead you to Christ^;" and "He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth*." I call you, then, to believe in Christ for salvation, and, like the Apostle, to renounce your own righteousness altogether, that you may be found in Christ, and be accepted through " the righteousness which is by faith in him^"] 2. Take care that your conduct be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ — [You clearly see, in my text, that principles and conduct must go together: neither will stand without the other. Without faith in Christ, you can never hope to receive the Holy Spirit, or to be renewed in the spirit of your mind : nor, on the other hand, will any change whatever avail you, if you rely not entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ for righteousness and salvation. It is in vain to build a superstructure, if it be not founded on Him ; and it is in vain to think you are founded on him, if your faith do not manifest itself by a superstructure of good works. You must never forget, that " faith without works is dead." You must " be led by the Spirit of God, if ever you would approve yourselves sons of God^." The world, as I have before shewn you, must be put under your feet : sin, in all its actings, must be mortified and subdued : the whole soul must be given up to God ; and holiness become the very element in which you breathe and live. Indeed, it is not a mere formal observance of duties that will suflice : we must " have the very mind that was in Christ," and " walk in all things as Christ himself walked." This will " Gal. iv. 4, 5. p Phil. ill. G. q Rom. vii. 9, 10.

^ Rom. ix. 30 — 33. and x. 3. s Gal. ill. 24. * Rom. X. A. u Phil. iii. 9. X Rom. viii. 14.

232 GALATIA S, V. 19—24. [2085. be our evidence, that we are really his : for then only can it be known that " we are not under the law, but under grace, when Christ himself lives in us, and no sin whatever is permitted to have dominion over us^."] y Rom. vi. 14. with Gal. ii. 19, 20.



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