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The fin and danger of adding to the doctrine
of the gospel.
GALAT. i. 8. 9. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, fo say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto youy, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Efore I come to handle the words, for the bete ter understanding of them, I shall give a brief account of the occasion of them, which was
this. Some false Apostles had made a great disturbance in the churches planted by the Apostles of Christ, by teaching that it was necessary for Christians, not only to embrace and entertain the doctrines and precepts of the Christian religion, but likewise to be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses. Of this disturbance which was raised in the Christian church, you have the history at large, Ads xv.; and as in several other churches, fo particularly in that of Galatia, these false Apostles and seducers had perverted many, as ap; pears by this epistle ; in the beginning whereof St Paul complains, that those who were seduced into this er. ror of the neceflity of circumcision, and keeping the law of Moses, had, by this new article of faith, which they had added to the Christian religion, quite altered the frame of it, and made the gospel another thing from that which our Saviour delivered, and commanded his Apostles to teach all nations.
For he tells us, ver. 6. of this chapter, that he marvelled, that they were for foon removed from him that call. ed them by (or through the grace of Christ, unto another gospel, that is so different from that which they had been VOL.V.
instructed in by those who first preached the gospel unto them ; for the making of any thing neceffary to fal. vation, which our Saviour in his gospel had not made fo, he calls another gospel. I marvel, that ye are so foon removed from him that called you by the grace of Christ, unto another gospel, which is not another, ô cix isiv ärno, which is no other thing, or by which I mean nothing else, but that there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ ; as if he had said, when I say that je are removed to another gospel, I do not mean that
have renounced Christianity, and are gone over to another religion, but that ye are feduced by those who have a mind to pervert the gospel of Christ, by adding something to it, as a necessary and effential part of it, which Christ hath not made fo : This the Apostle calls a perverting or overthrowing of the gospel; because, by thus altering the terms and conditions of it, they made it quite another thing from what our Saviour de. livered it.
And then at the 8th and 9th verses he denounceth a terrible anathema against those, whoever they thould be, yea, though it were an Apostle, or an angel from heaven, who by thus perverting the gospel of Christ, (that is, by making any thing neceffary to be believed or practised, which our Saviour in his gospel hath not made so), should in effect preach another gospel; but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, tħan that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema, an accursed thing; and then to express his confidence and vehemency in this matter, and to thew that he did not fpcak this rafhly, and in a heat, hut up. on due confideration, he repeats it again in the next verse, is we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than ikat ze have reccived, let him be accurfed.
From the words thus explained, by the confideration of the context, and of the main scope and design of this epistle, these following observations do naturally arise.
First, That the addition of any thing to the Christian religion, as necessary to be believed and practised in or
der to salvation, is a perverting of the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospel.
Secondly, That no pretence of infallibility is sufficient to authorise and warrant the addition of any thing to the Christian doctrine, as necessary to be believed and practised in order to falvation.
Thirdly, That Christians may judge and discern when such additions are made.
Fourthly, and consequently, that since the declaration of the gospel, and the confirmation of it, there is no authority in the Christian church to impose upon Christians any thing as of necessity to falvation, which the gospel hath not made for
Fifthly, That there is no visible judge, (how infallible foever he may pretend to be), to whose definitions and declarations in matters of faith and practice necefsary to falvation we are bound to submit, without examination whether these things be agreeable to the gospel of Christ, or not.
Sixthly, and lastly, Wliofoever teacheth any thing as of necessity to falvation, to be believed or practised, befides what the gospel of Christ hath made necessary, doth fall under the anathema here in the text, because in so doing, he perverteth the gospel of Christ, and preacheth another gospel. Now the Apostle expressly declares, that though we, (that is, he himself, or any of the Apostles), or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto. you, than what we have preached unto you, let him be accursed: As we said before, fo say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accurfed.
I. That the addition of any thing to the Christian religion, as necessary to be believed or practised in order to falvation, is a perverting of the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospelo
This is evident from the instances here given in this epistle ; for the Apostle chargeth the false Apostles with perverting the gospel of Christ, and preaching another gospel, upon no other account, but because they added to the Christian religion, and made circumcisions
and the keeping of the law of Moses, an essential part of the Christian religion, and imposed upon Christians the practice of these things, and the belief of the neGeflity of them, as a condition of eternal salvation.
That this was the doctrine of those false teachers, we find expressly, Acts xv. 1. And certain men which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Mofes, ye cannot be saved; and ver. 24. in the letter written by the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem, to the churches abroad, there is this account given of it: Forasmuch
we have heard that certain which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your fouls, fay. ing, se must be circumcised, and keep the law, to whom we gave no such commandment. Where you see that this doctrine is declared to be of pernicious consequence, tending to fubvert the fouls of men, and likewise to be an addition to the doctrine of the gospel which was delivered by the Apostles, who here with one confent declare, that they had given no fuch commandmert; that is, had delivered no such doctrine as this, nor put any such yoke upon the necks of Christians; but, on the contrary, had declared, that the death of Christ having put an end to the Jewish dispensation, there was now no obligation upon Christians to observe the law of Moses.
And from the reason of the thing, it is very plain, that the addition of any thing to the Christian religion, as necessary to be believed or practised in ore der to salvation, which the gospel hath not made so, is preaching another gospel; because it makes an effen. tial change in the terms and conditions of the gospel. covenant, which declares falvation unto men upon such and such terms, and no other. Now to add any
other terms to these, as of equal neceffity with them, is to alter the condition of the covenant of the gospel, and the terms of the Christian religion, and confequently to preach another gospel, by declaring other terms of salvation, than Christ in his gospel hath declared ; which is to pervert the gospel of. Chrift.