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TREATISE ON THE COVENANTS
WORKS AND GRACE:
DISSERTATION ON FAITH.
BY THOMAS BELL,
LATE MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL IN GLASGOW.
THE Author of the following Treatise was well known to many by his labours in the ministry, and is so, to many others by his publications from the press. He possessed much Biblical learning, had an extensive knowledge of Theology, a warm attachment to Evangelical Doctrine, and eminent talents to defend it. In his practice, he exemplified the power of gospel truth, appearing to be much devoted to God as a Minister and as a Christian. His manuscripts which remain, shew his great diligence and conscientious preparations for public service. The following work was left in a state of preparation for the Press. We who subscribe this note, have had access to peruse it, (by favour of the Author's Son) and enjoyed much satisfaction and edification in the perusal. We can with all freedom recommend it, as containing, (additional to some other very useful Treatises formerly published *) a clear, judicious and evangelical Illustration of the Doctrine of the Covenants of Works and Grace, and of the leading truths of the gospel, with a large, practical, and warm application of them to the conscience and heart. In it the Author discovers the extensive acquaintance with Divinity for which he was eminent, and a truly serious concern for the best interests of We cordially wish this scriptural view of much important truth may be the ministration of grace to saints and sinners.
JOHN BROWN, Whitburn.
JOHN MACDONALD, Edinburgh.
DAVID CARMENT, Glasgow.
JOHN COLQUHOUN, D. D. South Leith.
W. F. IRELAND, D. D. North Leith.
Witsius and Boston on the Covenants,
GALATIANS iv. 24.
WHICH THINGS ARE AN ALLEGORY; FOR THESE ARE THE TWO COVENANTS: THE ONE FROM THE MOUNT SINAI, WHICH GENDERETH TO bondage, wHICH IS AGAR.
GALATIA, where were the churches unto which this Epistle is directed, was a province of Asia the Less, having Phrygia on the west, Paphlagonia on the north, Pontus on the east, and Lycaonia on the south. The whole country was anciently called Gallo-Grecia, from the Gauls or Galatæ, who, when their native country, France, was overstocked with inhabitants, ravaged Italy and Greece, entered Asia, and pillaged it as far south as Babylon. But 120,000 of them being there defeated by an handful of Jews, and Attalus King of Pergamus, having forced them from his ter ritories, about 240 years before our Saviour's birth, they settled in that country, which from them was called Galatia. About 180 years before the Christian æra, the Romans ravaged Galatia, and about the 25, reduced it into a Roman province.
Sacred history informs us, that on the rupture which took place between Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, Acts xv. 40, 41. Employed in this honourable work, he came to Derbe and Lystra. It would seem he had a second interview with his beloved Timothy, who, from
this time served with him in the work of the gospel as a son with a father. In the same sacred route, Paul and Silas attended by Timothy, went through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, being forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Proconsular Asia, Acts xvi. 1-6. It was at this time that by the good hand of God upon him, Paul was honoured to plant the churches of Galatia, the inhabitants of that country, receiving him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. So highly did they esteem him, that if it had been possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them unto him, as he himself testifies in his Epistle unto them, chap. iv. 14, 15. About four years after the planting of the churches, as is generally believed, our Apostle set out a second time for Antioch, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phry. gia in order, strengthening all the churches, Acts xviii. 23. Whether his Epistle to the Galatians was previous, or posterior, to this his visit, is difficult to determine. In our apprehension, the probability is on their side who think it was previous: as there is not the least hint in all the Epistle that he had been oftener than once with them. It is natural to think that if he had, he would not have omitted to mention a circumstance which so greatly aggravated their guilt. Add to this, that charity bids us hope that his Epistle, soon followed with his personal presence, would recover them out of the snare into which they had fallen; whereas to suppose that after he had strengthened them by his second visit, they quickly turned aside, their situation would be much more hopeless. Agreeably to this, some tell us that for several centuries, the churches of Galatia were not inconsiderable. Probable it is that this Epistle was written to them about the year 54; not from Rome, according to the spurious addition at the end of it, but from Corinth, where the Apostle continued a year and a half, teaching the word of God. From thence he went to Jerusalem, then to Antioch, and from thence to visit the churches of Galatia, Actsxviii. 18-23. It is obvious that he had not been at Rome when he
gave them this seasonable watering. Compare Acts xix.
The apostle writes them not only in his own name, but in the name of all the brethren who were with him. Hence some would have it that he wrote from Antioch, and in name of the Presbytery there, Acts xiii. 1. (Beza:) others, that he wrote from Ephesus, and in name of the elders or overseers there, Acts xx. 17, 28. (Erasmus.) But in both cases the argument is equally inconclusive. By brethren are meant not only elders or evangelists, Acts ix. 17. xxi. 20. Heb. xiii. 23. but also the company of the faithful, who believe in Christ. Compare Acts xv. 22, 23, where the church, as distinguished from the apostles and elders, are called the brethren. In Acts xvii. 10. we read that the brethren. i. e. the believers in Thessalonica sent away Paul and Silas unto Berea, and in chap. xviii. 18. we read, that Paul took his leave of the brethren at Corinth, and sailed thence into Syria. Supposing, therefore, as we have done, that the apostle wrote from Corinth; by all the brethren who were with him, may be understood, not only Silas, Timothy, Luke and Aquila, Acts xviii. 1-5. but also all the saints who resided there. Nor is it in the least derogatory to him, to think that he thus meant, and was thus understood by the Galatians.
If the apostolic synod meeting at Jerusalem, did not think it unworthy of them to associate the brethren with themselves in their decrees sent to the churches of the Gentiles, why should it be thought beneath the dignity of one apostle to follow their example? The synodical letters run in the following terms, The apostles, and elders, and brethren send, greeting, unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia. It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, &c.; and our apostle begins his epistle in the following manner, Paul, an apostle, and all the brethren who are with me, unto the churches of Galatia. It was no way inconsistent with his apostolic authority to join the brethren, whether ministers or Christians unto himself. For it is a known maxim, that wisdom is justified of her children, Matt. xi. 19. That doctrine