First part of Sermon LXII. for the Fifteenth Sunday after
Gal. vi. 11-18. St. Matt vi. 24-34.
From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body
the marks of the LORD JESUS.—GAL. vi.
THE Apostle sums up his beautiful Epistle to the Galatians in a few
short and touching words, Ye see how large a letter I have written unto
you with mine own hand. St. Paul’s Epistles were usually written by
the hand of another, while he dictated the words; but here, in his very
great anxiety for these simple Galatians, he seems to say, “ye see how
large a letter,” or rather by what large-sized, (phlikois.)
ill-shappen (thn grammatwn amorfian.--Chrys.)
characters,” I have written to you with mine own hand.” Or as he speaks
on another occasion (2 Thess. iii. 7.) of his adding the salutation at
the end in his own writing, it may be now by these large letters in the
conclusion you will see my own handwriting, thus testifying to you the
sum of the whole matter, which is this: The Jews, which desire you to be
circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses, do so from ambitious and worldly
motives, to gratify their own pride, as the peculiar people of God, and
that by so doing they may do away with the offence of the cross, and all
the persecution which thence arises. As many as desire to make a fair
shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they
should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Nor can this be
from any desire of serving God, or from any love of the law itself, as
a means of doing so. For neither they themselves who are circumcised
keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in
your flesh. They will compass sea and land to make a pro-selyte; not
to make him more holy, but to gratify their own party spirit and vain-glory.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
As if he had said, But as for me, I shrink from the very thought of anything
that partakes of human pride; for all my glory is in that sign of God’s
unspeakable love, by which He so loved me while I was His enemy, that He
gave Himself for me. He was not ashamed of all His humiliation and pain,
out of His infinite tenderness for me: the consideration of which has so
through and through pierced my heart, that this world with all its charms
is dead to me; and I am dead to it. It is a double death by which I cling
to life. (Chrys. ad loc.)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,
but a new creature. Neither Jew nor Gentile hath anything to bring;
all this new condition consists in being born again in baptism, and putting
on the new man, and being renewed day by day after the image of Christ.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and
mercy, and upon the Israel of God. And now, in conclusion, when I come
to pronounce upon you that peace which Christ gives, I exclude from this
peace those who fall back into that old Jewish pride which nailed Christ
on the cross, and I give that peace to those whose life is according to
this law of the new creature, who walk by faith in Christ; for these are
in fact the true “Israel of God.” For as for them that call them. selves
so, our Lord Himself says of them, they “say they are Jews, and are not,
(Rev. ii. 9; iii. 9.) but are the synagogue of Satan.”
From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I hear in my body the
marks of the Lord Jesus. When a slave is about his master’s business,
and people see that he has on him the brand or mark of his master, they
trouble him not; well, I have on me the brand and mark of my Master, which
is the Cross. The many stripes and wounds I have suffered for His sake
bear testimony how dear His cross is to me, and that I belong to Him. Leave
me to His service. Let me hear no more of circumcision and the false synagogue.
And as for you, brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
your spirit. Amen. May that grace which is not of the law, but of faith
in Christ, be with you, not outwardly in the flesh, according to this Jewish
mind, but inwardly, in that spirit in which is formed the new creature.
Thus strongly does St. Paul, as with a godly jealousy, cut off everything
that may interfere with that undivided love of Christ crucified, in which
alone is all peace and grace. For how contrary is that self-exaltation
of the Jew to the spirit of lowliness which the cross of Christ preaches?
How does everything which tends to human glory so far impair and impede
that fulness of peace which is to be found in God? So far speaks St. Paul
in the Epistle. And now Christ Himself teaches us in the Gospel for the
day that same lesson of whole and entire rest in God, disclosing to us
in unspeakable tenderness something of that love towards us which was perfected
on the cross; and which can admit of no divided affection....
.... (for the second part, on the