“And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” - Gal. vi. 16.
THE Galatian church had experienced a season of disorder and consequently of distress when the faithful apostle wrote to them the epistle from which the above passage is taken; and on examination of the circumstances connected with their disorder, it was found that all their calamity had. come upon them in consequence of a departure from the rule. The true history of this church should be regarded as an admonition to the christian church throughout all subsequent time. Once they stood upon purely apostolic ground, plumb by the rule: once had they known the joy of running well - but alas! in consequence of their departure from this rule, they had become so crippled as to be disabled for even walking in the King’s highway, until all their backslidings were healed by their Great Physician! Now, being restored to the order of the gospel, they are exhorted to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, and not be again entangled with the yoke of bondage. The manner in which this church became disorderly should be a lasting admonition to the saints to beware of the same rocks and quicksands, and to abide by the divine rule. They were not decoyed by open profligacy, or avowed infidelity, but by those who pretended to more than ordinary sanctity and fear of the Lord; professing, like our modern Pharisees, unbounded love for. souls. By those who, having been prepared of men, not of God, for the work, came among them with enchantments and bewitched the church with their sorceries - not by recommending less religion than the rule required, but more; for it is much easier to tempt christians to abandon the divine rule, under the pretence of superior holiness to the Lord, or benevolence to man, than in another way. There is one error which, although presented by the tempter in a thousand forms, always proves more seductive to the saints than any other to which they are frequently subjected - that which involves a system of works in such a way as to be subversive of the doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace. With this bewitching bait the judaizing teachers of a law of righteousness as the ground of justification and acceptance with God, came into the churches of Galatia, and urged upon them the necessity of being circumcised, and of keeping the law of Moses, on pain of damnation; for they taught them that unless they were circumcised and kept the law of Moses, they could not be saved. From the day on which the churches of Galatia and Antioch were corrupted with this workmongrel heresy, there has existed in christendom a dispute with regard to the rule of the christian’s life and conversation. Even among Baptists the heresy that the law of Moses continues in full force over the subjects of the kingdom of Christ, and is to be regarded as their standard or rule, is still found; and, what is still worse, we know of a few of these judaizing rabbies who are assiduously laboring to impose upon our necks that very yoke of bondage from which Christ our iLord has made us free, and with which we are warned against being again entangled.
It truly seems hard for some, even of our brethren, to understand that the GOSPEL RULE is a sufficient standard for the faith and practice of the saints of God under the gospel dispensation: they seem easily beguiled with the notion that the thunder of Mount Sinai is indispensibly important in securing the heirs of immortality from licentiousness and ruin. But it is not of the law of Moses that our apostle speaks when he says, “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy,” &c., for there is neither peace nor mercy to be expected from the law. As the inflexible law of God could show no mercy even when its vials were poured out upon the person of our Lord, so neither can peace be upon us as the Israel of God, but by the blood of the cross. Tell me, says the inspired apostle, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye hear the law? But how preposterous the idea that a law that could not give life, nor make the comers thereto perfect, should possess a power to secure in us a conformity to the divine will, of which the gospel is deficient! The apostolic benediction placed at the head of this article is only pronounced by divine authority, on such as walk according to the gospel rule; and our present design is, if possible, to draw the attention of oar readers to this rule. What is a rule? Is it not a perfect standard - an exact measure? That such is the gospel to the saints, none will dare to deny. Then let it be our constant care to walk according to this sacred rule. It is a rule to walk by; the pathway which it directs, is the path of peace, the way of righteousness and the high way of holiness. Abiding by this rule, we are safe - no lion shall be there, no ravenous beset shall go up thereon: the redeemed shall walk there, and it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. Rejecting every other rule, let us square our lives and conversation by this most blessed standard; and then, while even the youths shall faint, and the young men utterly fall, we shall mount up with wings as eagles, shall run and not be weary, and we shall walk and not be faint.
But the apostle says, There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers; especially they of the circumcision. There are many also at this day unruly, because they walk not according to this rule: departing from this unerring rule, their communications are vain and deceptive; and they subvert whole houses, by teaching things which they ought not; things that are not according to this rule; such disorderly characters were in Paul’s day, found principally among those which were of the circumcision; and in our day also they are generally advocates of law righteousness, and depend for salvation on a covenant of works.
NEW VERNON, N. V.,
April 15, 1841.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 683 – 686