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Galatians 3:10-14

10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

10. Quictrnque enim ex operibus Legis sunt, sub maledictione sunt. Scripture est enim (Deuteronomy 27:26): Maledictus omnis, qui non permanet in omnibus, quae scripta sunt in libro Legis, ut facial ca.

11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

11. Quod autem in Lege nerno justificetur apud Deum, patet, quia justus ex fide rivet. (Habakkuk 2:4 Romans 1:17 Hebrews 10:38.)

12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

12. Lex autern non estex fide, sed, Qui fecerit haec homo, rivet in ipsis. (Leviticus 18:5.)

13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

13. Christus nos redemit a maledictione Legis, factus pro nobis maledictio: (scriptum est enim, maledictus omnis qui pependerit in ligno, (Deuteronomy 21:23,)

14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

14. Ut in Gentes benedictio Abrabae perveniat per Christum Iesnrn; quo promissionern Spiritus aecipiaruns per fidem.

 

10. For as many as are of the works of the law. The argument is drawn from the contradictory nature of the two schemes; for the same fountain does not yield both hot and cold. The law holds all living men under its curse; and from the law, therefore, it is in vain to expect a blessing. They are declared to be of the works of the law who place their trust for salvation in those works; for such modes of expression must always be interpreted by the state of the question. Now, we know that the controversy here relates to righteousness. All who wish to be justified by the works of the law are declared to be liable to the curse. But how does he prove this? The sentence of the law is, that all who have transgressed any part of the law are cursed. Let us now see if there be any living man who fulfils the law. But no such person, it is evident, has been, or ever can be found. All to a man are here condemned. The minor and the conclusion are wanting, for the entire syllogism would run thus: “Whoever has come short in any part of the law is cursed; all are held chargeable with this guilt; therefore all are cursed.” This argument of Paul would not stand, if we had sufficient strength to fulfill the law; for there would then be a fatal objection to the minor proposition. Either Paul reasons badly, or it is impossible for men to fulfill the law.

An antagonist might now object: “I admit that all transgressors are accursed; what then? Men will be found who keep the law; for they are free to choose good or evil.” But Paul places here beyond controversy, what the Papists at this day hold to be a detestable doctrine, that men are destitute of strength to keep the law. And so he concludes boldly that all are cursed, because all have been commanded to keep the law perfectly; which implies that in the present corruption of our nature the power of keeping it perfectly is wanting. Hence we conclude that the curse which the law pronounces, though, in the phrase of logicians, it is accidental, is here perpetual and inseparable from its nature. The blessing which it offers to us is excluded by our depravity, so that the curse alone remains.

11. But that no man, is justified by the law. He again argues from a comparison of contradictory schemes. “If we are justified by faith, it is not by the law: but we are justified by faith therefore it is not by the law.” The minor is proved by a passage from Habakkuk, which is also quoted in the Epistle to the Romans. (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17.) The major is proved by the difference in the methods of justification. The law justifies him who fulfils all its precepts, while faith justifies those who are destitute of the merit of works, and who rely on Christ alone. To be justified by our own merit, and to be justified by the grace of another, are two schemes which cannot be reconciled: one of them must be overturned by the other. Such is the amount of the argument: let us now attend to the separate clauses.

The just shall live by faith. As we had occasion to expound this passage where it occurs in the Epistle to the Romans, it will be unnecessary to repeat the exposition of it here. The prophet evidently describes a proud confidence in the flesh as contrasted with true faith. He declares, that “the just shall live;” by which he means, not that they are supported for a short period, and liable to be overwhelmed by an approaching storm; but that they shall continue to live, and that, even amidst the most imminent danger, their life shall be preserved. There is therefore no weight in the scornful reproaches of our adversaries, who allege that the prophet there employs the word Faith in a wider acceptation than Paul does in this passage. By Faith he evidently means the exercise of a calm, steady conscience, relying on God alone; so that Paul’s quotation is properly applied.

12. And the law is not of faith. The law evidently is not contrary to faith; otherwise God would be unlike himself; but we must return to a principle already noticed, that Paul’s language is modified by the present aspect of the case. The contradiction between the law and faith lies in the matter of justification. You will more easily unite fire and water, than reconcile these two statements, that men are justified by faith, and that they are justified by the law. “The law is not of faith;” that is, it has a method of justifying a man which is wholly at variance with faith.

But the man who shall do these things. The difference lies in this, that man, when he fulfils the law, is reckoned righteous by a legal righteousness, which he proves by a quotation from Moses. (Leviticus 18:5.) Now, what is the righteousness of faith? He defines it in the Epistle to the Romans,

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9.)

And yet it does not follow from this, that faith is inactive, or that it sets believers free from good works. For the present question is not, whether believers ought to keep the law as far as they can, (which is beyond all doubt,) but whether they can obtain righteousness by works, which is impossible. But since God promises life to the doers of the law, why does Paul affirm that they are not righteous? The reply to this objection is easy. There are none righteous by the works of the law, because there are none who do those works. We admit that the doers of the law, if there were any such, are righteous; but since that is a conditional agreement, all are excluded from life, because no man performs that righteousness which he ought. We must bear in memory what I have already stated, that to do the law is not to obey it in part, but to fulfill everything which belongs to righteousness; and all are at the greatest distance from such perfection.

13. Christ hath redeemed us. The apostle had made all who are under the law subject to the curse; from which arose this great difficulty, that the Jews could not free themselves from the curse of the law. Having stated this difficulty, he meets it, by shewing that Christ hath made us free, which still farther aids his purpose. If we are saved, because we have been freed from the curse of the law, then righteousness is not by the law. He next points out the manner in which we are made free.

It is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Now, Christ hung upon the cross, therefore he fell under that curse. But it is certain that he did not suffer that punishment on his own account. It follows, therefore, either that he was crucified in vain, or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might be delivered from it. Now, he does not say that Christ was cursed, but, which is still more, that he was a curse, — intimating, that the curse “of all men 5959     “La malediction de tous hommes.” was laid upon him” (Isaiah 53:6.) If any man think this language harsh, let him be ashamed of the cross of Christ, in the confession of which we glory. It was not unknown to God what death his own Son would die, when he pronounced the law, “He that is hanged is accursed of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23.)

But how does it happen, it will be asked, that a beloved Son is cursed by his Father? We reply, there are two things which must be considered, not only in the person of Christ, but even in his human nature. The one is, that he was the unspotted Lamb of God, full of blessing and of grace; the other is, that he placed himself in our room, and thus became a sinner, and subject to the curse, not in himself indeed, but in us, yet in such a manner, that it became necessary for him to occupy our place. He could not cease to be the object of his Father’s love, and yet he endured his wrath. For how could he reconcile the Father to us, if he had incurred his hatred and displeasure? We conclude, that he “did always those things that pleased” (John 8:29) his Father. Again, how would he have freed us from the wrath of God, if he had not transferred it from us to himself? Thus, “he was wounded for our transgressions,” (Isaiah 53:5,) and had to deal with God as an angry judge. This is the foolishness of the cross, (1 Corinthians 1:18,) and the admiration of angels, (1 Peter 1:12,) which not only exceeds, but swallows up, all the wisdom of the world.

14. That the blessing of Abraham. Having said that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” he now applies that statement more closely to his purpose. The promised blessing of Abraham is founded on this, and flows from it to the Gentiles. If the Jews must be delivered from the law, in order to become the heirs of Abraham, what shall hinder the Gentiles from obtaining the same benefit? And if that blessing is found in Christ alone, it is faith in Christ which alone brings it into our possession.

The promise of the Spirit appears to me to mean, agreeably to a Hebrew idiom, a spiritual promise. Although that promise relates to the New Testament, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,” (Joel 2:28,) yet, in this passage, Paul refers to another subject. The spirit is here contrasted with all outward things, not with ceremonies merely, but with lineal descent, so as to leave no room for diversity of rank. From the nature of the promise, he proves that Jews differ nothing from Gentiles; because, if it is spiritual, it is received by faith alone.


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