Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33


David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. XIX.

Of the Law of God.


"DID God give to Adam a law as a covenant of works, by which he bound him, and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience?"


"Did he promise life upon the fulfilling; and did he threaten death upon the breach of it?"


"Was Adam endued with power and ability to keep it?"

Yes; Gen. 1.26,27. Gen. 2.17. Rom. 2.14,15. Rom. 5.12,19. Gal. 3.10,12. Eccl. 7.29. Job. 28.28.

Well then, do not the Socinians err, who maintain, That God made no covenant with Adam in his integrity, in which he promised to him and his posterity life eternal?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From those places of Scripture, where the righteousness of the law is described, Lev. 18.5. Rom. 10.5. Gal. 3.12. Ezek. 20.11,13. Whosoever therefore keepeth my statutes and judgments, saith the Lord, shall live in them. And to whom life is promised for ever, upon their perfect obedience, and continuance in all things written in the book of the law. And from those places in which death is threatened to them, that in the least transgress the law of God, Deut. 27.26. Gal. 3.10. Ezek. 18.4.

2d, From the words of our Saviour, who spoke to the young man, according to the covenant of works, in which the Lord promised eternal life, to such as shall fulfill the law, Matt. 19.17. Luke 10.28. Observe, that Christ answereth here, according to the question and opinion of this young man, who thought he was able to obtain salvation, by his own good works; and therefore Christ directs him to the law, thereby to bring him to the acknowledgment of his own imperfection, and afterwards to faith in himself.

3d, Because man was created by God, in righteousness, holiness, and immortality, according to the similitude and image of God, Gen. 1.26. Gen. 9.6. Eccl. 7.29. Eph. 4.24. Col. 3.9,10. And received from him the law of nature, naturally engraven upon his heart, Rom. 2.14,15. And besides this law, a positive law was superadded to it, that Adam should not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil: That by obeying the same, he might give a specimen or proof of his obedience to the law of nature, in the perfect obedience whereof, so long as he should continue, he should live for ever. For the Lord threatened death to him only, if he should sin: And death is the wages of sin, which by sin entered into the world, Gen. 2.17. Rom. 6.23. Rom. 5.12,13.

4th, From those places of scripture, in which it is denied that believers, under the covenant of grace, are justified by the law, but by faith, and the righteousness of Christ, manifested in the gospel. For that the law is weak, powerless, or impotent, through the corruption of our nature, to justify us, and give us life, Rom. 3.20,21,28. Gal. 2.16. Gal. 3.10-13. Phil. 3.9. Rom. 8.2,3.

Quest. II. "Do the first four commandments contain our duty to God, and the other six, our duty towards man?"

Yes; Matt. 22.37-40.

Well then, do not the Papists and Lutherans err, who maintain, That three only belong to the first table, and seven to the second: And that, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, with the foregoing, Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, are but one command. And that, Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's house; Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man servant, &c. are two distinct commands?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the two first precepts command divers things, the one teacheth us, who is to be worshipped, viz. the true and living God, and no other. The second instructs us how he is to be worshipped, namely, according to his own appointment, and not according to the appointment, and pleasure of men, as by images and such like.

2d, Because it is one and the same concupiscence, which is forbidden in the tenth command, the sum whereof, Thou shalt not covet, is cited by the apostle Paul, Rom. 7.7. and which is summarily expressed in the close of the tenth command, Nor any thing which is thy neighbour's.

3d, If the tenth command ought to be two, because these words, Thou shalt not covet, are twice repeated, then would it follow, there should be as many commands, as there are things desired or forbidden: Because it is evident, that these words, Thou shalt not covet, are to be repeated with every part.

Quest. III. "Are all the ceremonial laws abrogated under the New Testament?"

Yes; Col. 2.14,16,17. Dan. 9.27. Eph. 2.15,16.

Well then, do not the Judaisers err, who maintain, That all the ceremonial laws remain, in their former strength and vigour, and are obliging to believers under the gospel, and not abrogated or disannulled by Christ?


By what reasons are the confuted?

1st, Because Christ hath abolished the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, that he might gather together both Jews and Gentiles, into one new man, Eph. 2.14,15. Col. 2.14. Note, that the apostle here speaks of all believers, both of Jews and Gentiles, as of one man: Because they being all under Christ, the head, as members of one spiritual body, are made up as one renewed man.

2d, Because the apostle says, Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: All which are shadows of things to come, but the body is of Christ, Col. 2.16,17. This verse is a conclusion of the apostle's foregoing discourse against ceremonies, and things commanded by the ceremonial law, which by the coming of Christ are abolished. He calls them in ver. 17. a shadow of things to come, but the body, says he, is of Christ; that is, the thing signified, is of Christ: For all the shadows of the Old Testament had respect to Christ and his benefits, by whose coming they also have had an end, John 1.17. Gal. 3.4,5.

3d, Because the apostle says, Believers are dead with Christ, from the rudiments of the world: that is, from the ceremonial commands, as is evident from the context. Why, says he, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? that is, as if your life and happiness, consisted in these outward wordly principles, but suffer yourselves to be burdened by such teachers, with human institutions and ordinances. The apostle indeed, in these last words, is reasoning against the institutions and ordinances of men; from this medium, which is an argument from the greater to the lesser, if ye be dead with Christ from the ceremonies of the law, instituted in the Old Testament, by God himself, much more are ye free from the institutions and ordinances of men, which are only grounded upon their own good pleasure, Col. 2.20,21. Gal. 4.10,11.

4th, Because the apostle affirms, that the observation, and using of circumcision, cannot consist with true faith in Christ, now after the gospel is fully published. And he exhorts the Galatians to abide in their liberty purchased by Christ, and not to submit themselves to the yoke of Mosaical ceremonies, Gal. 5.1,2.

5th, Because those teachers, who pressed the believing Gentiles, to be circumcised and to observe the law of Moses, I mean, the ceremonial law, were condemned by the council of apostles, Acts 15.24.

6th, Because ceremonial commands are neither of the law of nature, nor are they enjoined to believers under the gospel, as things moral.

7th, Because these appointed ceremonies, were figures only of things to come, imposed upon the Jews until the time of reformation; but taken away by Christ, Heb. 9.9-12. and 10.9. wherein it is said, He taketh away the first, namely, all sorts of propitiatory offerings which were used in the Old Testament, to settle the second, namely, his obedience to the will of the Father.

8th, Because they were given to the Israelites to foresignify, and represent Christ and his death, and to be marks of difference between them, and the unbelieving nations, Col. 2.17. Eph. 2.14. where it is said, Who hath made both these namely Jews and Gentiles, one; and hath broken down the middle wall of partition, whereby the ceremonial law is understood, which made a difference between the Jews and Gentiles. Now since Christ hath suffered death, and the Gentiles are called, all these ceremonies which did foresignify his death, and made that difference, of necessity cease.

9th, Because the temple of Jerusalem, to which the ceremonies were restricted, is destroyed, and could never since be rebuilded.

Quest IV. "Did the Lord by Moses give to the Jews, as a body politic, sundry judicial laws, which expired together with their state?"


"Do they oblige any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require?"

No; Exod. 21. from the first to the last verse. Exod. 22.1, to verse 29. Gen. 49.10. 1 Cor. 9.8-10. 2 Pet. 2.13,14. Matt. 5.17,38,39.

Well then, do not some err, though otherwise orthodox, who maintain, That the whole judicial law of the Jews, is yet alive, and binding all of us, who are Christian Gentiles?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the judicial law was delivered by Moses to the Israelites to be observed, as a body politic, Exod. 21.

2d, Because this law, in many things which are of a particular right, was accommodated to the commonwealth of the Jews, and not to other nations also, Exod. 22.3. Exod. 21.2. Lev. 25.2,3. Deut. 24.1-3. Deut. 25.5-7.

3d, Because in other things, which are not of particular right, it is neither from the law of nature obliging by reason; neither is it pressed upon believers under the gospel to be observed.

4th, Because believers are appointed under the gospel, to obey the civil law, and commands of those under whose government they live, providing they be just, and that for conscience sake, Rom. 13.1,5. 1 Pet. 2.13,14. Titus. 3.1.

Quest. V. "Doth the moral law forever bind, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God who gave it?"

Yes; Rom. 13.8-10. Eph. 6.2. 1 John 2.3,4,7,8. James 2.10,11.

Well then, do not the Antinomians err, who maintain, That believers, under the gospel, are not obliged to the obedience of the moral law?


By what means are they confuted?

1st, Because Christ says, He came not to destroy the law, and the prophets; that is, to alter or disannul the doctrine of the law, or of the prophets, Matt. 5.17.

2d, Because he says in the following verse, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled, Matt. 5.18.

3d, Because whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; that is, shall not at all be esteemed there, or shall not enter thereunto, ver. 19.

4th, Because that after the apostle Paul hath concluded the justification of believers to be of free grace, he subjoins, Do we then make void the law through faith, God forbid! yea, we establish the law, Rom. 3.31.

5th, Because all the precepts of the moral law belong to the law of nature, naturally engraven upon the hearts of men, which cannot be abrogated, but oblige all men perpetually, and necessarily, from natural reason itself, Rom. 2.15.

6th, Because all the precepts of the moral law are repeated in the gospel, and enjoined to all believers by Christ, Matt. 19.17-20. Rom. 2.13.

7th, Because Paul adjoineth and proposeth to believers under the New Testament, both a command and a promise of the Decalogue, as properly belonging to them, Eph. 6.2,3.

8th, Because the apostle James setteth forth to believers the moral law as the rule of life, which they are obliged to observe, and by breaking of which they are convinced of sins, James 2.8,9,11.

9th, Because whosoever committeth any sin against the moral law, shall never enter into the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6.9,10. Gal. 5.21.

10th, Because this tenet of the Antinomians, turns the grace of God into wantonness; overturneth the end of Christian liberty, and of the coming and death of Christ; and paveth a way leading to all impiety, and the indulging of the lusts of the flesh, and fostering the dominion of sin, contrary to these scriptures, Jude 4. 1 John 2.16. 2 Pet. 2.18-20. Rom. 6.14-16. Luke 1.74,75. Titus 2.11,12. 1 Tim. 6.9. Rom. 9.21,23,24.

11th, Because believers ought to study good works, Titus 3.8, to which they are created in Christ, that they should walk in them, Eph. 2.10.

12th, Because Christ will render to every man at his last coming, both to the good and to the bad, according to their works, Rev. 22.12. Matt. 25.34,35,41,42.

Quest. VI. "Are true believers under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned?"

No; Rom. 6.14. Gal. 2.16, 3.13, 4.4,5. Acts 13.39. Rom. 8.1.

Well then, do not the Papists and Socinians err, who maintain, That believers under the gospel, are justified by their obedience to the law of God, (the law, I say, either moral or evangelical) and condemned for the transgression thereof?


By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because by the law is the knowledge of sin, Rom. 3.20.

2d, Because for as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse, Gal. 3.10.

3d, Because there is not a law given, which could have given life to fallen man, Gal. 3.21.

4th, Because Christ is not dead in vain. For if righteousness be by the law, then Christ is dead in vain, that is, without cause, reason, need, or fruit, Gal. 2.21. See John 15.25.

5th, Because it was promised by God, about four hundred and thirty years before the promulgation of the law, that all the nations of the earth should be blessed in the seed of Abraham, Gen. 22.18. Gen. 12.3. with Gal. 3.16-18.

6th, Because Christ is become of no effect to them that are justified by the law, they are fallen from grace, Gal. 5.4.

7th, Because believers ought to wait, through the Spirit for the hope of righteousness by faith, Gal. 5.5.

8th, Because the apostle, tho' a strict observer of the law, counted all his works but loss and dung, that he might be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is thro' the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Phil. 3.8,9.

9th, Because Christ is made of God to believers, righteousness, 1 Cor. 1.30. 2 Cor. 5.21.

10th, Because they that seek not righteousness by faith, but by their works, do not attain it. And contrariwise, they that seek their righteousness by faith, and not by their works do attain to it, Rom. 9.30-32.

11th, Because Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, Rom. 10.4.

12th, Because the justification of men under the law or covenant of works, is by the law, and by the works of the law; but the justification of men under grace, or covenant of grace, is by faith, Rom. 10.5,6,8,9,10. Gal. 3.11,12. Lev. 18.5. But believers now are not under the law, or the covenant of works, but under grace, or the covenant of grace, Rom. 6.14,15. Gal. 5.18.

13th, Because believers under the New and Old Testament, are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, and not by the law, whose yoke none were able to bear. That is, none were able perfectly to keep, nor to be justified thereby, Acts 15.10,11.

14th, Because whosoever transgresseth the law in the least, is under the curse of it, Gal. 3.10. Deut. 27.26. and deserveth death, and a curse, Rom. 6.23. Ezek. 18.4,20. But all men, even the regenerate, sin daily, and transgress the law of God, and so are guilty of all, James 1.13. compared with James 2.10. and with 1 John 1.8.

15th, Because good works do not go before justification but follow after it, Titus 1.15. Heb. 11.6. Rom. 14.23. Rom. 3.9,10,23.

16th, Because the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, is manifested unto all, and upon all [them that believe, being witnessed] by Moses and the prophets. For all the apostles do witness, that whosoever believeth in Jesus Christ, shall have remission of sins, Rom. 3.21,24,25. Acts 10.43.

17th, Because justification is from the free grace of God, Rom. 3.24. Not by the works of the law, otherwise grace should be no more grace; nor work any more work, Rom. 11.6.

18th, Because the good works of believers are unclean, and defiled, Isa. 64.6. Gal. 5.17.

19th, Because it is said by the Spirit of God, the just shall live by faith, Hab. 2.4. Gal. 3.11.

20th, Because it is written, that Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness, Gen. 15.5,6. Rom. 4.3. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness, Rom. 4.5.

21st, Because believers must not glory in themselves but in God only, Rom. 4.2. Rom. 3.27.

22d, Because by the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous, as was foretold by the prophet, Isa. 53.11. And is asserted by Paul, Rom. 5.17-19.

23d, Because justification by faith, and not works, is expressly taught at large, by the apostle, in that third to the Romans, and third to the Galatians.