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CHAPTER XXVII.
OF THE GOSPEL AND CHRISTIAN LIBERTY.

THEGospel is the new dispensation of the covenant of grace, far more excellent and perfect than the law, announced first obscurely by Moses and the prophets, afterwards in the clearest terms by Christ himself, and his apostles and evangelists,[1] written since by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers[2] , and ordained to continue even to the end of the world, containing a promise of eternal life to all in all nations who shall believe in Christ when revealed to them, and a threat of eternal death to such as shall not believe.

The new dispensation. Jer. xxxi. 31-33, compared with Heb. viii. 8, 9. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with <84> their fathers. It is called "the new testament." Matt. xxvi. 28. Mark. xiv. 24. Luke xxii. 20. 1 Cor. xi. 25. 2 Cor. iii. 6. But the word διαθήκη, in the Hebrew ברית, is generally used by the inspired writers for συνθήκη covenant, and is rendered in Latin by the word pactum, 2 Cor. iii. 14. Gal. iv. 24. veteris pacti[3] The Gospel is only once called testament in a proper sense, for a particular reason which is there subjoined. Heb. ix. 15, 16, &c. "for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance; for where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator."

More excellent and perfect than the law. Matt. xiii. 17. "many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." 2 Cor. iii. 11, &c. "if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech; and not as Moses" —. Heb. vii. 18-20,22 "the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God: and inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest; for those priests were made without an oath, but this with an oath... by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant." viii. 6, &c. "by how much more also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which <85> was established upon better promises, &c... I will put my laws into their mind." James i. 25. "whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." 1 Pet. i. 10, &c. "of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you... with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." The Gospel is also called "the ministry" and "word of reconciliation," 2 Cor. v. 18, 19. "whereas on the contrary the law worketh wrath." Rom. iv. 15.

By Moses and the prophets. John v. 39. "they are they which testify of me." v. 46. "had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me;" namely Gen. iii. 15. xxii. 18. xlix. 10. Deut. xviii. 15. Luke xxiv. 27. "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Acts xvii. 11. "searching the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." xxvi. 22, 23. "saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." Rom. iii. 21. "being witnessed by the law and the prophets." 1 Pet. i. 10. "who prophesied of the grace which should come unto you."

Written in the hearts of believers. Isai. lix. 21. "as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Jehovah; My Spirit which is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and for ever." Jer. xxxi. 31-33. "behold <86> the days come... but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith Jehovah," (a declaration particularly worthy of attention, as it specifies in what respect the new covenant is more excellent than the old) "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts" —, compared with Heb. viii. 10, &c. "this is the covenant... I will put my laws into their mind... and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." Joel ii. 28. "it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh..... and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit." To these may be added, from the chapter of Jeremiah quoted above, v. 34. "they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." Joel ii. 28. "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Compare Acts. ii. 16-18. For although all real believers have not the gift of prophecy, the Holy Spirit is to them an equivalent and substitute for prophecy, dreams, and visions. 2 Cor. iii. 3. "ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." v. 6. "ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." James i. 21. "receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."

By the Holy Spirit, the gift of God, and peculiar to the gospel. John vii. 39. "the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." <87> xiv. 26. "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things." See also Luke xii. 12. Acts i. 8. "ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." See also ii. 1, &c. v. 38. "repent," &c......"and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Rom. v. 5. "by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." 1 Cor. ii. 13. "in words which the Holy Ghost teacheth." 2 Cor. xiii. 14. "the communion of the Holy Ghost." 1 Thess. iv. 8. "who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit." See also Rom. viii. 9. 1 Cor. xii. 3. 1 Pet. i. 12. 1 John iv. 13.

Ordained to continue even to the end of the world. 2 Cor. iii. 11. "much more that which remaineth is glorious." Eph. iv. 13. "till we all come... unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

A promise of eternal life. Mark. xvi. 15, 16. "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel... he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Rom. i. 16. "the power of God unto salvation."

To all who shall believe. John iii. 15, 16. "whosoever believeth in him," &c. Rom. i. 16, 17. "to every one that believeth." 1 John ii. 25. "this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life." See other passages to the same effect above, in the chapter on faith and its objects. Under the name of believers the penitent are comprehended, inasmuch as in the original annunciation of the gospel repentance and faith are jointly proposed as conditions of salvation. Matt. iii. 1, &c. iv. 17. Mark i. 15. Luke xxiv. 47. Acts ii. 39-41. x. 35. "he that feareth him and <88> worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." xix. 3, 4. xx. 21. and elsewhere.

A threat of eternal death to such as shall not believe. Matt. x, 14, 15. "whosoever shall not receive you nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that city, shake off the dust of your feet: verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom-." xxi. 37, &c. "he sent unto them his son..... but when the husbandmen saw the son, they said.... let us kill him.... they say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men." Mark. xvi. 16. "he that believeth not shall be damned." John iii. 19. "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." Acts iii. 23. "every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. "taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel." Heb. x. 26, "if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment." By unbelievers, however, those only can be meant to whom Christ has been announced in the gospel; for "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" Rom. x. 14.

In all nations. Matt. xxiv. 14. "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." Mark xvi. 15. "to every creature." John x. 16. "other sheep I have, which are not of this fold." Acts x. 34. 35. "of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him. <89> and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." Rom. x. 18. "their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." This was predicted, Isai. ii. 2, &c. "it shall come to pass in the last days," &c. See also Mic. iv. 1. Isai. xix. 18, &c, "in that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan," &c. xxv. 6, &c. "unto all people." xlii. 4, &c. "the isles shall wait for his law." xlv. 22, 23. "look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." lv. 4, 5. "a witness to the people," &c. lvi. 3, &c. "neither let the son of the stranger... speak, saying, Jehovah hath utterly separated me from his people." lxvi. 21. "I will also take of them for priests and Levites, saith Jehovah." Jer. iii. 17. "all the nations shall be gathered unto it." xxv. 8, &c. "because ye have not heard my words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north-". Hagg. ii. 7. "the desire of all nations shall come." Zech. viii. 20. "there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities."

On the introduction of the gospel, or new covenant through faith in Christ, the whole of the preceding covenant, in other words the entire Mosaic law, was abolished. Jer. xxxi. 31-33. as above. Luke xvi. 16. "the law and the prophets were until John." Acts xv. 10. "now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" Rom. iii. 21. "now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested." vi. 14. "ye are not under the law, but under grace." vii. 4. "ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, <90> that we should bring forth fruit unto God". v. 6. "now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." In the beginning of the same chapter the apostle illustrates our emancipation from the law by the instance of a wife who is loosed from her husband that is dead. v. 7. "I had not known sin but by the law" (that is, the whole law, for the expression is unlimited) "for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." It is in the decalogue that the injunction here specified is contained; we are therefore absolved from subjection to the decalogue as fully as to the rest of the law.[4] viii. 15. "ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear." xiv. 20. "all things indeed are pure," compared with Tit. i. 15. "unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled." 1 Cor. vi. 12. "all things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." x. 23. "all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." 2 Cor. iii. 3. "not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." v. 6-8. "ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the <91> letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life: but if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious... how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?" v. 11 . "if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." v. 15. "the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished." v. 17. "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Gal. iii. 19. "wherefore then serveth the law? it was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made." v. 25. "after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." iv. 1. &c. "the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant... until the time appointed of the father: even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Compare also v. 21, addressed to those who desired to be under the law; and v. 24, of Hagar and Sarah, "these are the two covenants: the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar... but Jerusalem which is above," v. 26. "is free:" hence v. 30. "cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." v. 18. "if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Eph. ii. 14, 15. "who hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of <92> commandments contained in ordinances." Now not only the ceremonial code, but the whole positive law of Moses, was a law of commandments and contained in ordinances; nor was it the ceremonial law which formed the sole ground of distinction between the Jews and Gentiles, as Zanchius on this passage contends, but the whole law; seeing that the Gentiles, v. 12, "were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise," which promise was made to the works of the whole law, not to those of the ceremonial alone; nor was it to these latter only, that the enmity between God and us was owing, v. 16. So Coloss. ii. 14-17. "blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us... he took it out of the way," &c. Heb. vii. 12, 15,16. "the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also in the law... there ariseth another priest, who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment." v. 18. "there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before," (that is, of the commandment of works) "for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." viii. 13. "in that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old; now that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away." xii. 18, &c. "ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more but ye are come unto mount Sion... and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant."

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It is generally replied, that all these passages are to be understood only of the abolition of the ceremonial law. This is refuted, first, by the definition of the law itself, as given in the preceding chapter, in which are specified all the various reasons for its enactment: if therefore, of the causes which led to the enactment of the law considered as a whole, every one is revoked or obsolete, it follows that the whole law itself must be annulled also. The principal reasons then which are given for the enactment of the law are as follows; that it might call forth and develope our natural depravity;[5] that by this means it might work wrath; that it might impress us with a slavish fear through consciousness of divine enmity, and of the hand-writing of accusation that was against us; that it might be a schoolmaster to bring us to the righteousness of Christ; and others of a similar description. Now the texts quoted above prove clearly, both that all these causes are now abrogated, and that they have not the least connexion with the ceremonial law.

First then, the law is abolished principally on the ground of its being a law of works; that it might give place to the law of grace. Rom. iii. 27. "by what law? of works? nay, but by the law of faith." xi. 6. "if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace." Now the law of works was not solely the ceremonial law, but the whole law.

Secondly, iv. 15. "the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression." It is not however a part, but the whole of the law that work <94> eth wrath; inasmuch as the transgression is of the whole, and not of a part only. Seeing then that the law worketh wrath, but the gospel grace, and that wrath is incompatible with grace, it is obvious that the law cannot co-exist with the gospel.

Thirdly, the law of which it was written, "the man that doeth them shall live in them," Gal. iii. 12. Lev. xviii. 5. and, "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them," Deut. xxvii. 26. Gal. iii. 10. was the whole law. From "the curse of" this "law Christ hath redeemed us," v. 13. inasmuch as we were unable to fulfil it ourselves. Now to fulfil the ceremonial law could not have been a matter of difficulty; it must therefore have been the entire Mosaic law from which Christ delivered us. Again, as it was against those who did not fulfil the whole law that the curse was denounced, it follows that Christ could not have redeemed us from that curse, unless he had abrogated the whole law; if therefore he abrogated the whole, no part of it can be now binding upon us.

Fourthly, we are taught, 2 Cor. iii. 7. that the law "written and engraven in stones" was "the ministration of death," and therefore "was done away." Now the law engraven in stones was not the ceremonial law, but the decalogue.

Fifthly, that which was, as just stated, a law of sin and death, (of sin, because it is a provocative to sin; of death, because it produces death, and is in opposition to the law of the spirit of life,) is certainly not the ceremonial law alone, but the whole law. But the law to which the above description applies, is abolished; Rom. viii. 2. "the law of the spirit of life <95> in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

Sixthly, it was undoubtedly not by the ceremonial law alone that "the motions of sin which were by the law, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death," Rom. vii. 5. But of the law which thus operated it is said that we "are become dead thereto," v. 4. and "that being dead wherein we were held," v. 6. "we are delivered from it," as a wife is free "from the law of her husband who is dead," v. 3. We are therefore "delivered," v. 6. not from the ceremonial law alone, but from the whole law of Moses.

Seventhly, all believers, inasmuch as they are justified by God through faith, are undoubtedly to be accounted righteous; but Paul expressly asserts that "the law is not made for a righteous man," 1 Tim. i. 9. Gal. v. 22, 23. If however any law were to be made for the righteous, it must needs be a law which should justify. Now the ceremonial law alone was so far from justifying, that even the entire Mosaic law had not power to effect this, as has been already shown in treating of justification: Gal. iii. 11, &c. therefore it must be the whole law, and not the ceremonial part alone, which is abrogated by reason of its inability in this respect.

To these considerations we may add, that that law which not only cannot justify, but is the source of trouble and subversion to believers; which even tempts God if we endeavour to perform its requisitions; which has no promise attached to it, or, to speak more properly, which takes away and frustrates all promises, whether of inheritance, or adoption, or grace, or of the Spirit itself; nay, which even sub <96> jects us to a curse; must necessarily have been abolished. If then it can be shown that the above effects result, not from the ceremonial law alone, but from the whole law, that is to say, the law of works in a comprehensive sense, it will follow that the whole law is abolished; and that they do so result, I shall proceed to show from the clearest passages of Scripture. With regard to the first point, Acts xv. 24. "we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law." v. 10. "why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?" Certain of the Pharisees which believed, said that "it was needful for them to keep the whole law," v. 5. when therefore Peter in opposition to this doctrine contends, that the yoke of the law ought to be removed from the necks of the disciples, it is clear that he must mean the whole law. Secondly, that the law which had not the promise was not the ceremonial law only, but the whole law, is clear from the consideration, that it would be sufficient if one part had the promise, although the other were without it; whereas the law which is so often the subject of discussion with Paul has no promise attached to either of its branches. Rom. iv. 13, 16. "the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." Gal. iii. 18. "if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise;" and therefore not by the law, or any part of it; whence Paul shows that either the whole law, or the promise itself, must of necessity be abolished, Rom. iv. 14. <97> "if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of none effect." Compare also Gal. iii. 18. as above. By the abolition of the promise, the inheritance and adoption are abolished; fear and bondage, which are incompatible with adoption, are brought back, Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 1, &c. v. 21, 24, 26, 30. as above; union and fellowship with Christ are dissolved, Gal. v. 4. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law," whence follows the loss of glorification; nay, grace itself is abolished, unless the abolition of the law be an entire abolition: Gal. v. 4. "whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace," where by the word "law," is intended the entire code, as appears not only from the preceding verse, "he is a debtor to do the whole law," but from other considerations; finally, the Spirit itself is excluded; Gal. v. 18. "if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law;" therefore, vice versa, if ye be under the law, ye are not led of the Spirit. We are consequently left under the curse: Gal. iii. 10. "as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them;" therefore "all things which are written in the law," and not the things of the ceremonial law alone, render us obnoxious to the curse. Christ therefore, when he "redeemed us from the curse," v. 13. redeemed us also from the causes of the curse, namely, the works of the law, or, which is the same, from the whole law of works; which, as has been shown above, is not the ceremonial part alone. Even supposing, however, that no such con <98> sequences followed, there could be but little inducement to observe the conditions of a law which has not the promise; it would be even ridiculous to attempt to observe that which is of no avail unless it be fulfilled in every part, and which nevertheless it is impossible for man so to fulfil; especially as it has been superseded by the more excellent law of faith, which God in Christ has given us both will and power to fulfil.[6]

It appears therefore as well from the evidence of Scripture, as from the arguments above adduced, that the whole of the Mosaic law is abolished by the gospel. It is to be observed, however, that the sum and essence of the law is not hereby abrogated; its purpose being attained in that love of God and our neighbour, which is born of the Spirit through faith. It was with justice therefore that Christ asserted the permanence of the law, Matt. v. 17. "think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Rom. iii. 31. "do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." viii. 4. "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

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The common objection to this doctrine is anticipated by Paul himself, who expressly teaches that by this abrogation of the law, sin, if not taken away, is at least weakened rather than increased in power: Rom. vi. 14, 15. "sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace: what then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." Therefore, as was said above, the end for which the law was instituted, namely, the love of God and our neighbour, is by no means to be considered as abolished: it is the tablet of the law, so to speak, that is alone changed, its injunctions being now written by the Spirit in the hearts of believers; with this difference, that in certain precepts the Spirit appears to be at variance with the letter, namely, wherever by departing from the letter we can more effectually consult the love of God and our neighbour. Thus Christ departed from the letter of the law, Mark. ii. 27. "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath," if we compare his words with the fourth commandment. Paul did the same in declaring that a marriage with an unbeliever was not to be dissolved, contrary to the express injunction of the law; 1 Cor. vii. 12. "to the rest speak I, not the Lord." In the interpretation of these two commandments, of the sabbath and marriage, a regard to the law of love is declared to be better than a compliance with the whole written law; a rule which applies equally to every other instance. Matt. xxii. 37-40. "on these two commandments (namely, the love of God and our neighbour) hang all the law and the prophets." Now neither of these is propounded in express terms among the ten commandments, <100> the former occurring for the first time Deut. vi. 5. the latter, Lev. xix. 18. and yet these two precepts are represented as comprehending emphatically, not only the ten commandments, but the whole law and the prophets. Matt. vii. 12. "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Rom. xiii. 8, 10. "he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law; love is the fulfilling of the law." Gal. v. 14. "all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." 1 Tim. i. 5. "the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." If this is the end of the Mosaic commandment, much more is it the end of the evangelic. James. ii. 8. "if ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, thou shalt do well." Hence all rational interpreters have explained the precepts of Christ, in his sermon on the mount, not according to the letter, but in the spirit of the law of love. So also that of Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 4. "every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head;" a text which will come under consideration in Book II. chap. iv. on the outward deportment befitting prayer. Hence it is said, Rom. iv. 15. "where no law is, there is no transgression;" that is, no transgression in disregarding the letter of the law, provided that under the direction of the Spirit the end of the institution be attained in the love of God and our neighbour.

On the united authority of so many passages of Scripture, I conceived that I had satisfactorily established the truth in question against the whole body of <101> theologians, who, so far as my knowledge then extended, concurred in denying the abrogation of the entire Mosaic law. I have since however discovered, that Zanchius, in his commentary on the second chapter of Ephesians, declares himself of the same opinion[7], remarking, very justly, that "no inconsiderable part of divinity depends on the right explanation of this question; and that it is impossible to comprehend the Scriptures properly, especially those parts which relate to justification and good works," (he might have added, the whole of the New Testament) "unless the subject of the abrogation of the law be thoroughly understood." He proves his point with sufficient accuracy, but neglects to follow up his conclusions; losing himself in a multitude of minute exceptions, and apparently fluctuating between the two opinions, so as to leave the reader, if not extremely attentive, in a state of uncertainty. I have also observed that Cameron somewhere expresses the same opinion respecting the abolition of the whole law.[8]

It is asserted, however, by divines in general, who still maintain the tenet of the converted Pharisees, that it is needful for those who are under the gospel <102> to observe the law (a doctrine which in the infancy of the church was productive of much mischief) that the law may be highly useful, in various ways, even to us who are Christians; inasmuch as we are thereby led to a truer conviction of sin, and consequently to a more thankful acceptance of grace, as well as to a more perfect knowledge of the will of God. With regard to the first point, I reply, that I am not speaking of sinners, who stand in need of a preliminary impulse to come to Christ, but of such as are already believers, and consequently in the most intimate union with Christ; as to the second, the will of God is best learnt from the gospel itself under the promised guidance of the Spirit of truth, and from the divine law written in the hearts of believers. Besides, if the law be the means of leading us to a conviction of sin and an acceptance of the grace of Christ, this is effected by a knowledge of the law itself, not by the performance of its works; inasmuch as through the works of the law, instead of drawing nearer to Christ, we depart farther from him; as Scripture is perpetually inculcating.

In the next place a distinction is made; and Polanus in particular observes, that "when it is said that we are not under the law, it is not meant that we are not under an obligation to obey it, but that we are exempt from the curse and restraint of the law, as well as from the provocation to sin which results from it."[9] If this be the case, what advantage do believers reap from the gospel? since even under the <103> law they at least were exempted from the curse and provocation to sin: and since to be free from the restraint of the law can mean nothing but that for which I contend, an entire exemption from the obligation of the law. For as long as the law exists, it constrains, because it is a law of bondage; constraint and bondage being as inseparable from the dispensation of the law, as liberty, from the dispensation of the gospel; of which shortly.

Polanus contends, on Gal. iv. 4, 5. "to redeem them that were under the law," that "when Christians are said to be redeemed from subjection to the law, and to be no longer under the law, this is not to be taken in an absolute sense, as if they owed no more obedience to it. What then do the words imply? They signify, that Christians are no longer under the necessity of perfectly fulfilling the law of God in this life, inasmuch as Christ has fulfilled it for them." That this is contrary to the truth, is too obvious not to be acknowledged. So far from a less degree of perfection being exacted from Christians, it is expected of them that they should be more perfect than those who were under the law; as the whole tenor of Christ's precepts evinces. The only difference is, that Moses imposed the letter, or external law, even on those who were not willing to receive it; whereas Christ writes the inward law of God by his Spirit on the hearts of believers,[10] and <104> leads them as willing followers. Under the law, those who trusted in God were justified by faith indeed, but not without the works of the law; Rom. iv. 12. "the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our Father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." The gospel, on the contrary, justifies by faith without the works of the law. Wherefore, we being freed from the works of the law, no longer follow the letter, but the spirit; doing the works of faith, not of the law. Neither is it said to us, whatever is not of the law is sin, but, whatever is not of faith is sin; faith consequently, and not the law, is our rule. It follows, therefore, that as faith cannot be made matter of compulsion, so neither can the works of faith.[11] See more on this subject in the fifteenth chapter, on Christ's kingly office, and on the inward spiritual law by which he governs the church. Compare also Book II. chap. i. where the form of good works is considered.

From the abrogation, through the gospel, of the law of servitude, results Christian liberty; though liberty, strictly speaking, is the peculiar fruit of adoption, and consequently was not unknown during the time of the law, as observed in the twenty-third chapter. In <105> asmuch, however, as it was not possible for our liberty either to be perfected or made fully manifest till the coming of Christ our deliverer, liberty must be considered as belonging in an especial manner to the gospel, and as consorting therewith:[12] first, because truth is principally known by the gospel,[13] John i. 17. "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," and truth has an essential connexion with liberty; viii. 31, 32. "if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." v. 36. "if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Secondly, because the peculiar gift of the gospel is the Spirit; but "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 2 Cor. iii. 17.

Christian liberty is that whereby we are loosed as it were by enfranchisement, through Christ our deliverer, from the bondage of sin, and consequently from the rule of the law and of man; to the intent that being made sons instead of servants, and perfect men instead of children, we may serve God in love through the guidance of the Spirit of truth. Gal. v.1. "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Rom. viii. 2. "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." v. 15. "ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have <106> received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Gal. iv. 7. "wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son." Heb. ii. 15. "that he might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." 1 Cor. vii. 23. "ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." James i. 25. "whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein." ii. 12. "so speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty."

That we may serve God. Matt. xi. 29, 30. "take my yoke upon you... for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," compared with 1 John. v. 3-5. "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous." Rom. vi. 18. "being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." v. 22. "now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness." vii. 6. "now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." xii. 1, 2. "present your bodies... a reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." James i. 25. "whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." 1 Pet. ii. 16. "as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." Hence we are freed from the yoke of human judgments, much more of civil decrees and <107> penalties in religious matters. Rom. xiv. 4. "who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." v. 8. "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's". Matt. vii. 1. "judge not, that ye be not judged." Rom. xiv. 10. "why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." If we are forbidden to judge (or condemn) our brethren respecting matters of religion or conscience in common discourse, how much more in a court of law, which has confessedly no jurisdiction here; since Paul refers all such matters to the judgment-seat of Christ, not of man? James ii. 12. "so speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty;" namely, by God, not by fallible men in things appertaining to religion; wherein if he will judge us according to the law of liberty, why should man prejudge us according to the law of bondage?

By the guidance of the Spirit of truth in love. Rom. xiv. throughout the whole of the chapter; and chap. xv. 1-15. In these chapters Paul lays down two especial cautions to be observed; first, that what ever we do in pursuance of this our liberty, we should do it in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting that it is permitted us.[14] v.5. "let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." v. 23. "whatever is not of faith, is sin." Secondly, that we should give no just cause of offence to a weak brother, v. 20, 21. "for <108> meat destroy not the work of God: all things indeed are pare, but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 1 Cor. viii. 13. "if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend;" which resolution, however, must be considered as an effect of the extraordinary love which the apostle bore his brethren, rather than a religious obligation binding on every believer to abstain from flesh for ever, in case a weak brother should think vegetable food alone lawful. ix. 19-22. "though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more; unto the Jews I became as a Jew..... to them that are under the law, as under the law..... to them that are without law, as without law; being not with out law to God, but under the law to Christ..... to the weak became I as weak..... I am made all things to all men." x. 23. "all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." Gal. v. 13. "for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh; but by love serve one another." 2 Pet. ii. 19. "while they promise themselves liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption." 1 Cor. viii. 9. "take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak."

This appears to have been the sole motive for the command given to the churches, Acts xv. 28, 29. "to abstain from blood, and from things strangled;" namely, lest the Jews who were not yet sufficiently established in the faith should take offence. For that the abstinence from blood was purely ceremonial, is evident from the reason assigned Lev. xvii. 11. "the <109> life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls." Thus the eating of fat was forbidden by the law, vii. 23, &c. yet no one infers from hence that the use of fat is unlawful, this prohibition applying only to the sacrificial times: Acts. x. 13, &c.

No regard, however, is to be paid to the scruples of the malicious or obstinate. Gal. ii. 4, 5. "and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." 1 Cor. xiv. 38. "if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." Christ was not deterred by the fear of giving offence to the Pharisees, from defending the practice of his disciples in eating bread with unwashen hands, Matt. xv. 2, 3. and plucking the ears of corn, which it was considered unlawful to do on the sabbath-day, Luke vi. 1, &c. Nor would he have suffered a woman of condition to anoint his feet with precious ointment, and to wipe them with her hair, still less would he have vindicated and praised the action, John. xii. 3, &c. neither would he have availed himself of the good offices and kindness of the women who ministered unto him, whithersoever he went, if it were necessary on all occasions to satisfy the unreasonable scruples of malicious or envious persons. Nay, we must withstand the opinions of the brethren themselves, if they are influenced by motives unworthy of the gospel. Gal. ii. 11, &c. &c. "when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Nor ought the weak believer <110> to judge rashly of the liberty of a Christian brother whose faith is stronger than his own, but rather to give himself up to be instructed with the more willingness. Rom. xiv. 13. "let us not therefore judge one another any more."

Neither this reason, therefore, nor a pretended consideration for the weaker brethren, afford a sufficient warrant for those edicts of the magistrate which constrain believers, or deprive them in any respect of their religious liberty.[15] For so the apostle argues 1 Cor. ix. 19. "though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all; I was not made so by others, but became so of my own accord;[16] "free from all men," and consequently from the magistrate in these matters at least. When the magistrate takes away this liberty, he takes away the gospel itself; he deprives the good and the bad indiscriminately of their privilege of free judgment, contrary to the spirit of the well known precept, Matt. xiii. 29, 30. "lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them: let both grow together until the harvest."[17]

<111>

[1]

..... Thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise

The Serpent's head; whereof to thee anon

Plainlier shall be reveal'd. Paradise Lost, XII. 149.

The Woman's seed, obscurely then foretold,

Now amplier known thy Saviour and thy Lord. Ibid. 543.

[2]

He to his own a Comforter shall send,

The promise of the Father, who shall dwell

His Spirit within them, and the law of faith

Working through love, upon their hearts shall write. Ibid. 486.

[3]

Beza's Translation. Testamentum vetus. Tremellius. Veteris testmenti. Vulgate.

[4]

This opinion, that it was inconsistent with the liberty of the gospel to consider the decalogue as a law binding on Christians, is probably the reason why Milton forbears to mention it, where Michael describes to Adam the civil and ritual commandments delivered to the Jews. The omission is too remarkable not to have been designed, considering the noble opportunity which would have been afforded for enlarging on its moral precepts. See Paradise Lost. XII. 230-248.

[5]

.....Therefore was law giv'n them to evince

Their natural pravity, by stirring up

Sin against law to fight. Paradise Lost, XII. 287.

[6]

... peace

Of conscience, which the law by ceremonies

Cannot appease, nor man the moral part

Perform, and, not performing, cannot live.

So law appears imperfect, and but giv'n

With purpose to resign them, in full time,

Up to a better covnant, disciplined

From shadowy types to truth, from flesh to spirit,

From imposition of strict laws to free

Acceptance of large grace, from servile fear

To filial, works of law to works of faith. Paradise Lost, XII. 296

[7]

'These authorities, without long search, I had to produce... But God (I solemnly attest him) withheld from my knowledge the consenting judgment of these men so late, until they could not be my instructor, but only my unexpected witnesses to partial men —.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 237.

[8]

Cameron appears to have been a favourite author with Milton. He elsewhere calls him 'a late writer much applauded,' and characterizes an observation which he makes on Matt. xix. 3. as 'acute and learned.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 74. Mr. Todd also, in noticing that Cameron was one of the few contemporary authors whom Milton has mentioned in terms of respect, quotes another passage in praise of him from the treatise cited above, where he is spoken of as 'an ingenious writer, and in high esteem.' Tetrachordon, II. 210. Life of Milton, p. 153.

[9]

'Non esse sub lege, non est, non teneri obedientia legis, sed liberum esse a maledictione, et coactione legis, et peccati irritatione.' Polani Syntagm. Theol. lib. vi. cap. 10. De Lege Dei.

[10]

... what the Spirit within

Shall on the heart engrave. Paradise Lost, XII. 523.

'The state of religion under the gospel is far differing from what it was under the law; then was the state of rigour, childhood, bondage, and works, to all which force was not unbefitting; now is the state of grace, manhood, freedom, and faith, to all which belongs willingness and reason, not force: the law was then written on tables of stone, and to be performed according to the letter, willingly or unwillingly; the gospel, our new covenant, upon the heart of every believer, to be interpreted only by the sense of charity and inward persuasion.' Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, III. 335.

[11]

'Surely force cannot work persuasion, which is faith; cannot therefore justify or pacify the conscience: and that which justifies not in the gospel, condemns; is not only not good, but sinful to do: Rom. xiv. 23. 'whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.' Ibid. Prose Works, III. 342.

[12]

..... what will they then

But force the Spirit of grace itself, and bind

His consort Liberty? Paradise Lost, XII. 524.

[13]

'In respect of that verity and freedom which is evangelical, St. Paul comprehends both ends alike, &c.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, IV. 338

[14]

'In religion whatever we do under the gospel, we ought to be thereof persuaded without scruple; and are justified by the faith we have, not by the work we do: Rom. xiv. 5. 'let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, III. 341.

[15]

'I have shown that the civil power hath neither right, nor can do right, by forcing religious things: I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating the fundamental principle of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, Christian liberty.' A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. Prose Works, III. 337. 'Liberty, which is inseparable from Christian religion.' Ibid. 352.

[16]

None more cautious of giving scandal than St. Paul. Yet while he made himself servant to all, that he might gain the more, he made himself so of his own accord, was not made so by outward force, testifying at the same time that he was free from all men. Ibid. III. 342.

[17]

... On earth

Who against faith and conscience can be heard Infallible? Paradise Lost, XII. 528.

'Seeing then that in matters of religion, as hath been proved, none can judge or determine here on earth, no not church-governors themselves against the consciences of other believers, my inference is, or rather not mine, but our Saviour's own, that in those matters they neither can command or use constraint, lest they run rashly on a pernicious consequence, forewarned in that parable, Matt. xiii. from the 29th to the 31st verse, lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them: let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares,' &c. A Treatise of Civil Power, &c. III. 323.

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