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9Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again?

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9. But now, 6767     Μᾶλλον δὲ “The Greek writers make use of these two particles for the purpose of correcting what they have already said, and, as if it had not been enough, of adding something more. Thus, Romans 8:34, and in Polybius. Χρήσιμον εἴη μᾶλλον δ ᾿ αηναγκαῖον. “It would be useful, it would even be necessary.” Καὶ γὰρ ἄτοπον μᾶλλον δ ᾿ ὡς εἰπεῖν ἀδύνατον, αδυνατον. “It would be absurd; it would even be impossible.” — Raphelius. after that ye have known God. No language can express the base ingratitude of departing from God, when he has once been known. What is it but to forsake, of our own accord, the light, the life, the fountain of all benefits, — “to forsake,” as Jeremiah complains,

“the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns,
broken cisterns, that can hold no water!” (Jeremiah 2:13.)

Still farther to heighten the blame, he corrects his language, and says, or rather have been, known by God; for the greater the grace of God is towards us, our guilt in despising it must be the heavier. Paul reminds the Galatians whence they had derived the knowledge of God. He affirms that they did not obtain it by their own exertions, by the acuteness or industry of their own minds, but because, when they were at the farthest possible remove from thinking of him, God visited them in his mercy. What is said of the Galatians may be extended to all; for in all are fulfilled the words of Isaiah,

“I am sought by them that asked not for me:
I am found by them that sought me not.” (Isaiah 65:1.)

The origin of our calling is the free election of God, which predestinates us to life before we are born. On this depends our calling, our faith, our whole salvation.

How turn ye again? They could not turn again to ceremonies which they had never practiced. The expression is figurative, and merely denotes, that to fall again into wicked superstition, as if they had never received the truth of God, was the height of folly. When he calls the ceremonies beggarly elements, he views them as out of Christ, and, what is more, as opposed to Christ. To the fathers they were not only profitable exercises and aids to piety, but efficacious means of grace. But then their whole value lay in Christ, and in the appointment of God. The false apostles, on the other hand, neglecting the promises, endeavored to oppose the ceremonies to Christ, as if Christ alone were not sufficient. That they should be regarded by Paul as worthless trifles, cannot excite surprise; but of this I have already spoken. The word bondage conveys a reproof for submitting to be slaves. 6868     “Par ce mot de Servir, il reprend la necessity, a laquelle ils s’astraignoyent d’observer les ceremonies.” “By the word ‘bondage,’ he reproves them for the necessity to which they had reduced themselves to observe ceremonies.”




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