The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
"Paul and Silas travelled through this region about a.d. 51, and formed churches in it, which Paul visited again in his second journey three years afterwards. This Epistle was probably written soon after his first visit: see Acts 16:6 : Acts 18:23 : Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:8 : Galatians 4:13, Galatians 4:19.
"This Epistle resembles both the Epistles to the Corinthians and that addressed to the Romans. Like the first it defends Paul's apostolic authority and shows that he was taught immediately by Christ. Like the lasts it treats of justification by faith alone, from which the Galatians very soon after Paul left them, and greatly to his surprise, had been seduced by false teachers, who insisted on submission to the Mosaic law as essential to salvation, and probably insinuated that elsewhere Paul himself had urged the same doctrine. Mark the sharpness and tenderness of his rebuke (Galatians 3:1 : Galatians 4:19): the place assigned to holiness, not as the ground but as the fruit of salvation, and inseparable from it (Galatians 5:6, Galatians 5:22). Mark also how little we can depend on ardour of religious feeling as proof of the strength of religious principle (Galatians 4:15, Galatians 4:20).
"It is interesting to remark that the persons to whom this Epistle was addressed were Gauls (whose name in Greek is Galatians), both in name and in character. They manifest all the susceptibility of impression and fondness for change which authors from Cæsar to Thierry have ascribed to that race. They received the Apostle as an angel, and would have plucked out their eyes and given them to him; but were 'soon removed' by false teachers to another gospel,' and then under the influence of the same ardour began to 'bite and devour one another' (Galatians 4:14-15 : Galatians 5:15)."—Angus's Bible Handbook.]
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)Religious Fickleness
The Apostle does not speak in this letter as he speaks in almost every other Epistle. I notice the absence of the usual commendations. How the Apostle praises the Corinthians! "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him... ye come behind in no gift;" and after that he lacerates them with a rod, forgetting all his encomiums. Read the Epistle to the Corinthians, compare the salutations with the anterior contents, and say where is the music. The Apostle Paul comes before the churches of Galatia with all his episcopal robes upon him: this time he is going to be an Apostle "(not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)." Is there not a single word of the usual commendation? Not one. He praises the Lord Jesus Christ, but not the Galatians; he says of the Saviour "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver as from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." No sooner had he got the religious doxology uttered than he says—"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel." What, no kind word, no laying of the episcopal hand upon the arrant head, no look of love, no tear of pity? is it all dignity—overwhelming, overshadowing, annihilating dignity? So it would appear. In writing to the Corinthians Paul is dealing (with one exception, a most corrupt case indeed) with form, order, method of procedure, and the like. The Corinthians are indecently tumultuous, they know nothing about the genius of order, and of the peace which thrives under its benign sway. The Apostle approaches them with the lawful and abounding cunning of a man who knows human nature and how to deport himself in a riotous nursery. The Galatians were removed from God, from Christ, from the Author of the Gospel. This is no question of ceremony, order, precedence, and the music which comes from proportion; this is a vital heresy; these are not fools only, they are criminals. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ." This is a change of view, an alteration of opinion, a modification of the old credal basis, in reference to metaphysical statement or speculative doctrine: here is cancer of the heart.
But the Apostle approaches it with episcopal solemnity and apostolic dignity of the highest quality. Yet, when could Paul keep up the dignity all the way through? Never, where human hearts were concerned. If there were no very visible goodness, he had that eye of the soul which sees a thing before it is visible. "My little children," he says; now he is more like the old generous father Apostle, "I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them unto me." Now we know this Paul. So, if we did not find the dignity at the beginning, we find it where we did not expect to discover it, namely, in the process of castigation. "Ye did run well:" there is a little touch of the same fatherly recognition; if he could have said more he would have filled the rest of his paper with it; and he would bring himself in as part-offender on one of the outside lines, for, with a cunning use of the plural, he disarms the criticism of those who would make him out to be righteous over much, saying, "And let us." What an "us!" that Paul could make himself one with such a church—"let us not be weary in well doing." Then there is another touch of gentleness towards the end—"Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand:" would I have taken so much trouble with you, if I did not care for you? am I your enemy because I have told you the truth? Some say, See how I have written my letter in capitals,—either arising from his own want of keen eyesight, or that he might the more obviously appeal to the obstinacy and denseness of his correspondents. But he himself is struck with what he has written, as to its largeness and fulness, conveying thus a subtle hint of the depth and purity and holy agony of his solicitude. You will always find the love in Paul, if you look for it. We do not find it here like pillars in the vestibule; we find it inside, growing all over like flowers that are willing to grow, flowers that, poetically speaking, are growing with their own consent, and want to grow more and more, so as to hide everything under the mantle of beauty.
"Removed." The tense should be changed into the present—"I marvel that ye are so soon removing." He catches them in the act. He does not allow a man to complete the wrong, and then run miles after him to reproach him: he seizes the thief's hand while it is in his pocket; he says, I am surprised at you, stealing in this way. It is always so with the criticism of heaven; it falls upon us in the very middle of the deed. We have so covenanted with our memory as to have let out most of it to our treachery that we might constitute of our recollection a large acreage of cemetery: there we have buried our little children, vows half uttered; there we have buried our evil deeds, thinking we could dig down far enough to have them burned by some under-fire: but the Lord will not blow the blast of his trumpet over that cemetery; he comes to us in the very act and deed, and says, I marvel at you, killing Christ again, selling the Cross once more, making a merchandise of Golgotha: I marvel, "so soon removed," or, removing—a word which conveys the idea of treachery, apostasy; it is not a change of the mental standpoint, but a change of the heart loyalty. We speak in our day of turncoats, and perverts—men who have given up all that once dignified their manhood, and added beauty to their character; when we so speak we use in effect the word which Paul used when he said "removed," or removing. The Galatians were a new type of character; they were the Irishmen of their country—not metaphorically, but by the law and necessity of consanguinity. The Galatians were Irishmen; they were Celts, they were Irish and Welsh and Scotch, but mainly Irish—responsive, ardent, inflammable, immediate in every feeling and every action; with a wondrous genius of swinging round the compass, and declaring that they had never stirred a peg; they were so soon back again that they did not know that they had been away. Jerome was surprised when he found people in countries far away from one another talking the same language he had heard talked by men on the banks of the Rhine. We should travel more. You can never be really great in your soul, if you do not acquaint yourself, either by reading, intercourse, or travelling, with the fact that England after all is not the globe. The Apostle did not understand these early Irishmen. He says, I marvel at you, and yet I love you; ye would have given me your eyes—a most Irish act—you would have given me your sight, if you could have helped me; oh, there is a redundance of love in your warm soul! I truly appreciate you, but I marvel that ye are so inconstant, so little to be depended upon. And yet, in this very Epistle, Paul says the grandest things that ever human tongue uttered—"God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"—and when he retires from the Galatians he says, "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." The morning of the Epistle was stormy—how calm was the sunset 1
Look at religious fickleness as a matter of fact. Sometimes we exemplify it. We do so ecclesiastically. There are men who have been everything, and they look none the better for it. We say of them, Where are they now? Sometimes, by a wasted poesy of thought, such men are called "wandering stars"; they were brought up upon the strictest lines of the Church, and they went boldly over to the wildest departments of Dissent; or they were cradled on the knee of Dissent, and then they threw their arms around the neck of the Church: and they liked both equally well; that is to say, they had no particular liking for either of them. It is so doctrinally. There are those who could not themselves say just where they are. We do not want bigotry, narrow-mindedness, the kind of exclusiveness which lives solely upon the garbage of uncharitableness; but we do want something like dignity, certainty, clearness of conception. Not about details; we do not want that particular genius which can reconcile all opinions, but we want that centred heart that cannot live but in the Cross. I do not care to propound theories, and discuss speculations, and invite men to coincide with me in all the outgoings of my thought: but I do want men to live on Calvary. I long for all men to say, Jesus, my Lord and my God; my High Priest, without whom I have no answer to God, and no answer to myself; the crown be thine. After that, who cares to follow men into the vagaries of thinking, or even into the higher levels of speculation? We shall come right in all these matters, if we are right in relation to the Cross of Christ.
Look at this matter of religious fickleness as one of surprise—"I marvel," I wonder, I am amazed. What is the Apostle amazed at? He is amazed at such shallowness of character; there is nothing in these people; you can sound the depths of the water in which they sail with your fingertip; there is no water to swim in; a river for a boat? impossible. An ocean for a navy? impossible I You cannot find in such people even the very first element of healthy progress, wise and modest self-respect. We are amazed at fickle religious people, because they make such fools of themselves. They are always finding some new little piece of paper, on which there is written something they cannot make out, but which perfectly entrances them by the brilliance of its genius. You have noticed the vagaries of the east wind. I can always tell where the wind is, by the little pieces of white and brown and blue paper that are in the gutters of the city; I do not look so high as the weather-vane to know where the wind is; the north-east wind or the east wind has quite a cunning trick of finding out all the little pieces of paper in the town, and blowing them round about the kerbstones. You have seen them whirling round the streets. Whenever I see these little tumults I say, The wind is in the east; the south wind never found such paper, the west wind never goes after such rags, but the east wind will not let them alone; it is a kind of terrier that hunts them up, a ferret that goes into every hole and says, They must come out! Well, these fickle people run after all these pieces of paper, and they do not know whether their religion is on the blue paper or on the white, or if it may not be wrapped up in that little roll of white paper just gone by (just run after that, if you please), because that may contain the philosophy of the universe. I marvel, says Paul, that you make such fools of yourselves; why do you not build on the great central facts of Christianity? If you cannot cause such facts to blossom into doctrine, high thought, poetry, you might still cling to the historic certainties—I marvel at you, seizing the shadow in the river, and drowning yourselves in the very act of seizing it. We are surprised at this religious fickleness, because it destroys all confidence in the opinions of the persons who practise it, or who are its willing or unwilling victims. We never consult them in the crises of life; we soon know that they are destitute of solidity, we hear their opinions, and pay no heed to them; any forger can impose upon them, they will print anything that any forger will send to them; they are printers, not critics; and when they come out with their pompous and universe-overflowing "We," we say, How many are there of them? We did not think there could be so many fools in the world 1 I marvel that ye are so soon turned about, lured away, decoyed into forbidden places and into the land of darkness.
Look at this religious fickleness, not only as a matter of fact, and a matter of surprise, but a matter of really curious interest—psychological interest, if you will, metaphysical interest. How does it come to be so? It comes not seldom through vanity. Of vanity there are many species; some are vain of personal appearance, some are vain of social position, but we are dealing now with men who are intellectually vain, and intellectual vanity is about the greatest curse, short of direct criminality, which can fall upon the Church of Christ. When our preachers and our hearers become intellectually clever, and only so, the Holy Ghost has gone, the power of the Church is lost; and if we could read hidden words we should find on the door of the sanctuary, "ICHABOD," the glory is departed. We are not called to the Lord's Communion table or banqueting-board as epicures, as wine-tasters, as men who are authorised to give opinions upon the abundance with which the Lord has charged his festival; we are called as hungry, thirsting souls, to eat and drink abundantly of God's precious gifts, and not to criticise, but to be thankful for them.
Then there is in addition to that, what may be called a diseased love of novelty. There is no city, probably, in the world so given to running after so-called novelty as London. It is very hard work for any really good preacher to live in London. If a preacher were to announce that he would do the most grotesque thing ever attempted in the pulpit, the Church doors would be besieged an hour before the blasphemy was committed. Men do not care for eternity, the truly old and venerable quantity, covered with the hoar of God's own duration, ennobled by the antiquity which belongs to God's own throne.
Then there is an action of what may be termed selfishness that enters into this curious result. Men make pet creeds, pet churches, pet dogmas. They do not take in the whole thought of God, so far as it is possible for the mind to do so; in other words, they do not allow the mind to dwell upon the wholeness of the Divine content, they take out certain elements and qualities, and magnify these in the hope that, by doing so independently, they may attract the kind of attention which they easily construe into the offering of homage, or into an idolatrous oblation.
What, then, is there to be no change? There is to be change every day. There are many changes. There is a change that is subject to the charge of fickleness, and there is a change that belongs to the beneficent law of progress. In the springtime the fields are never the same two days together; the blade of grass is a little longer, the flower that was just opening its eye, as if in fear, yesterday is to-day looking the sun full in the face; the birds that were almost afraid of their own voices a week ago, because of the cold east wind, are filling the air with dance and joy and glee and festival of music, because of the warmer atmosphere, because of the more genial sun. That is the change we delight in—the change of evolution, development, progress, sense of increasing liberty. You would not like your child to be the same to-day as it was five years ago; when strangers say they would not have known him again, because he is so much taller, you are parentally pleased with the compliment, and properly so: if persons were to say they would have known him again in a moment, for he had not changed one atom in five years, you know how down-hearted you would be. Whatever change belongs to progressive life we love, and hail and look upon as a proof of God's nearness and continual benediction. Let us cultivate depth of conviction. For God's sake, be something. Have any of you been removed, or are any of you in the act of removing from central verities? retrace your steps. This is the day of grace, which, in other words, is the day of opportunity: come back 1 Preachers, hear your brother preacher; the time will come when what are now looked upon as the old outworn truths of Christianity will become the great originalities of the time. For a period we must stand back, for just now nobody wants us; that is to say, nobody comparatively speaking, having our eyes upon the millions of a seething civilisation: but if you will hold on by the Cross, some day you will awake to find that what were once deemed little commonplaces have been recalled as inspirations and originalites. Bread and water will outlast all the confectionery in the world. Children like confectionery; you offer a child a piece of sugar or a piece of bread, and the little hand goes out toward the sugar. But no life was ever reared on sweatmeats. When we want fighting done, we avoid the confectioner's counter; when we want real athletic muscle and vigour and capability, we come down to simples. There are those who lead themselves out into obscurity and oblivion by the door of self-indulgence, but the men who are to rule the world influentially from age to age are men who, how lofty soever may be their speculations and their dreamings, are centred in great verities, immutable truths. I want you to believe in God, in Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, in the Holy Ghost the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Teacher, the Light, and the Director of the Church. I do not care about your believing in my theories or speculations regarding this doctrine: I hold it is possible to believe in the doctrines themselves in their naked austerity, if I may so use the expression, without seeking coincidence and harmony with the opinions of men, who are but of yesterday and who know nothing. If we are to have a battle of words, the fight will never cease; if we are to come face to face with the Cross we shall say to one another, Brethren, whatever our theories, speculations, and metaphysics may be, truly this man was the Son of God. If we can say that with our heart, and commit our whole life to it, we are not far from the kingdom of heaven.
The Solidarity of History
The Solidarity of History
It is noteworthy that Paul does not unchurch these Celtic Christians. We have seen in our first exposition that these Galatians were the Irish men of their country. They were rude, inconstant, given to unaccountable and irrational change. The Apostle comes down upon them with great dignity; for we have observed how lacking his salutation is in many of the elements which make his superscriptions so tender and sympathetic and fraternal: yet, notwithstanding all the fractiousness, fickleness, obstreperousness, Paul does not dismiss the Galatians from the kingdom of Christ. He smites with a rod, but still says to those who are most severely lacerated, "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." It would have been easier to unchurch the whole crowd. Destruction is always the easiest policy. There is a demonstrativeness and pomp about it, which may attract the notice of the selfish and the foolish. Whom you cannot subdue by reason, crush with your iron heel. This was not the policy of the Apostle; this has not been the policy of God, though it has often been threatened. When the Lord has been obliged in the conduct of his providence to follow this policy he has always, in the midst of it, relented and spared the neck of his enemies. We have seen him, in our Old Testament studies, come to a king and touch his forehead with leprosy, but leave the crown on. He came very nearly there to disrobing and dismissing the blasphemous monarch. The touch on the forehead should be a hint that the crown is no longer secure when character begins to give way. What a crown it is when the leprous line is written under the first circlet of diamonds! What do we see on the man's head? The leprosy rather than the crown, or if we see the crown we say, What a mockery it is, a leper on the throne! The Lord hath many people in his Church who have scars on their back. When of necessity you correct your little child, you do not disinherit him. It is because he is your child that you punish him. Why not correct another boy? Because, you say, he does not belong to you. Love has its rights of correction. Yet the Apostle, who confesses in this Epistle that he is somewhat uncertain himself as to the right way of expression—for he says, "I speak after the manner of men"; and in another place he says, "or rather," and thus changes the point of view—the Apostle gets into one of his customary tempers when he drives out of the Christian pulpit the people who do not preach the right gospel. It would appear as if he could never endure that, whatever else he submitted to. There is, too, in the Epistle that subtle contempt so characteristic of Paul, that singular but undoubted introduction of sub-acid into his benediction. Read the Epistle in proof of this. When he comes upon men who are preaching another gospel he says, It "is not another." The meaning is that it is only another in an arithmetical sense, as who shall say, One, two, three. There is an arithmetical addition to the rubbish of the world, without there being any contribution of new genius, new life-blood, new fire; it is another, and not another: arithmetical addition being the most contemptible increment that can be named. There is another that is the first development; there is another that is the little seed in full flower. When did my little lady, the flower, look down upon the root and say, I have nothing to do with you? She would no longer be a little lady; she would be a prig, a pedant, and a fool. Nay, she says in all her splendour, I could not live one day but for the root—black and hidden and uncomely. But the other gospel, which Paul denounces, is but an arithmetical addition. Sometimes our solitude is turned into a plurality without our enjoyment being increased. There are men who say, "Never so little alone as when alone"; there are those who would always be joyful if they could always be in solitude. There is a possibility of intrusion of companionship without addition of friendship: there is a plurality which does not mean association or fellowship; it is so that the Apostle says, Here is another which is not another; because it is not of the same quality, it does not belong to the same genus, and must therefore be driven out as a foreign element.
The Apostle was given to the use of strong language. There are timid people who are always afraid of strong men. You have seen timidity squirm under the pressure of great energy; timidity has withdrawn, and gone away, and no man knew his sepulchre unto this day; the energy was too much for the fragile little creature, it has gone to sip its tea, and babble its gossip, and await the corning of death. The Apostle Paul could open his mouth widely, and he had a tongue on which a curse could sit gracefully. Was it a curse in this case? "Though even an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.... If any man preach another gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed"—let him be anathema. The word "anathema" was, however, pronounced in two different ways: when it was pronounced with a long e, as anathema, it meant, Let him be set apart to God; when it was pronounced with a short e, as anathema, Let him be set apart to darkness and loss and ruin. How did the Apostle write the word? He would not use a short e, if he could help it; there is more music in the long e, it almost doubles the word, and thus doubles the sweetness of the word by its use in this connection. But, if the Apostle really did speak objurgatorily, he may have spoken to his own regret Paul was never the man to make a mistake and then deny it. When he was talking such easy, fluent nonsense about marriage and the place of woman (as if he knew anything about that), and was writing so dictatorially about as to where woman should sit and how woman should dress and how woman should submit herself, he said again and again what he need not have said,—"I speak this by permission, and not of commandment," "I speak as a man," he might have said, as a foolish man. Was the Apostle then afraid of new ideas? By no means: he was afraid of nothing. He said, if any man have a lamp, let him show it. He said, If any man has a theory, let him propound it: Try all things, prove them, probe them, hold fast to that which is good. There are many persons who pronounce the anathema who were never called by the will of heaven "Paul, the Apostle." We are not apostles simply because we can denounce other people.
How great is Paul in his recognition of the merits of other men:—"For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles." There is the comprehensive genius of Scripture. It has a word for everybody. And when the Scripture is allowed to utter its own voice in its own way men are amazed, and say, How hear we then the wonderful works of God, every man in the tongue in which he was born. The Bible is all languages; it only needs to be read well. Does the Apostle Paul find fault with the Apostle Peter saying, He is not a member of my community, he does not travel upon my lines, he does not preach to the Gentiles, he only can preach to the circumcision, if he were to attempt to preach to the Gentiles they would laugh at him? Nothing of the kind. But that is how we speak of one another to-day. One brother says of himself, "I only preach to University men: the man to whom you refer," he continues, "may have a certain kind of faculty for addressing a certain kind of low creatures called the masses, or the working classes, but he has no gift whatever in preaching to the circumcision of letters." How foolish some men can be! They do not recognise the diversity of administration but the same spirit working in all, using all, blessing all. We want the man who can speak to the circumcision, and the man who can speak to the Gentiles, and we want both the men to think highly of each other, and to say, Let who will speak unkindly of the ministers of God, the ministers themselves must be true to one another. If we could be thus true, we should prove ourselves to be in the apostolical succession. Yet Paul could magnify himself, and speak quite loudly in the most courtly ecclesiastical air; he would not have been afraid even of an archbishop. "I said unto Peter before them all." What right had he to speak to Peter? The right of truth, the right of sincerity; not the right of a concealed bond, an official certificate, but the eternal right of conviction. We must have these larger rights recognised.
In chapter Galatians 2:16-21 we have Paul at his very best:—
16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
This is the Pauline eloquence, this is the Pauline theology. Is that theology abstract, speculative, metaphysical? Not at all; it is personal, experimental, the voice of consciousness, the testimony of an inward and undeniable consciousness and experience. Men do not object to theology when it is alive: men do object, blessed be God, to everything that is dead. In God there is no darkness, no death: and God has so made us that we love life, beauty, and the spirit of assured and beneficent progress.
In chapter 3 the Apostle is still argumentatively upon a historical basis. The Apostle shows here the solidarity of history. Paul never broke history into little morsels that had no relation to one another. History in the hands of Paul, and in the hands of every philosopher, is not a sack of peas, which will run away from one another the moment you cut the sack: history was unity, continuity, development,—touch it at any point and every other point throbbed with sympathy. It is because we forget that we belong to the creation of God, that we make little men of ourselves, and subject ourselves to all the passing winds that care to make sport of our so-called convictions and our miscalled hopes and dreams of greatness. You and I lived when the Lord said, "Let us make man": then we began. It is because we think of men and not of Man, of the plural and not the plural total, that we lose rest and joy, and sense of triumph and immortality. An ancient emperor of Morocco ("It is lawful to learn from an enemy," saith the Latin proverb) said, "I have been reading the Epistles of Paul, and if ever I change my religion I will become a Christian; but I do not like one thing in Paul, he changed his religion, and I think a man ought to die in the religion in which he was born." Thus spake the old emperor of Morocco. Was he right in charging Paul with changing his religion? He was wrong. Paul never changed his religion. Christianity is the consummation of Judaism. Properly understood, we all pass from Genesis to Matthew. We must all pass from Sinai to Mount Zion; we must all go from the mountain torn with lightning to the sweet green slopes where all is quietness, or where quietness is but a variety of music. There is no change in Paul as to fundamentals in Jesus Christ; "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus; and if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed." Verily this man was a historical philosopher; he grasped things with both hands, and looked them through and through, and was a true man before the altar of God.
Paul did not, however, live in the "good old times" of England; he says, "Though it be but a man's covenant, yet, if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto." He did not know what was going to happen, for in England in the days of the eighth Henry a man made his will, and stated that on no account was he to be buried with papistical rites; no mass was to be said over him, he was to be buried in the faith which he had professed through a lifetime; and they buried him so. But an unhappy namesake of mine, Dr. Parker, Chancellor of Worcester, had him dug up, and his bones burned. Paul said, "Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto." These were the good old times of England 1 To his praise, be it said, Henry VIII. made that same Parker pay three hundred pounds fine for committing so high an offence; let good be spoken wherever it can be uttered with a clear conscience.
From a high theological argument the Apostle passes into what is difficult to distinguish from a little banter:—"Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are; ye have not injured me at all." Some have found in this an intimation of the fact, that it did not lie within the power of the Galatians to injure a man like Paul. There may be a little sub-acid in this tone; it may be that Paul is lifting himself up in religious and justifiable pride, as who should say, Brethren, it does not come within your power to injure a man called as I am, and protected by the whole armoury of heaven. Said the old bore to Aristotle, "I fear I try your patience, sir philosopher, by all this use of words." Said Aristotle, "You do not try my patience, for in truth I have not heeded one word you have uttered." It may be that something of the same kind was in the tone of the Apostle, for he could be haughty, he could by one step go to the other side of the universe from any man that offended him; none so gentle, none so austere.
Finally he gives us a new hint as to the way of reading the Scripture—"Which things are an allegory." Some men are afraid of being allegorical; these same men are afraid of everything, and therefore their fear amounts to nothing when applied to the exegesis of a mystic word. I find allegory everywhere in the Bible. There are those who would make the Bible but a box of letters, and they, forsooth, stand up and say, You read into the Bible things that are not there. I answer, Everything is in the Bible that is true, beautiful, musical, beneficent. "Which things are an allegory;" study the parable, watch the development of the times and events, and carry back the present as a light to hold over the past. Only ages to come can explain some parts of the Bible. What do we mean when we say that such and such a man, great in letters or in statesmanship or in war, must be judged by history, that is to say, must be judged by men who come centuries after? Can these men understand such great geniuses better than their contemporaries can understand them? Most undoubtedly; that is the philosophy of history. A man writing two hundred years from this date will write more completely and authoritatively about the men of to-day than the men of to-day could write even about themselves. There is a genius of history, there is a philosophical reading of the past. Let not the blind chide those who can see. God will send his Prophets and Apostles age after age, to tell what men meant who died five centuries before them.