Arminian Today

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Arminius on the Use of the Moral Law

The Moral Law is distributed through the whole of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and is summarily contained in the Decalogue. It is an ordinance that commands those things which God accounts grateful of themselves, and which it is his will to be performed by all men at all times and in all places; and that forbids the contrary things. (1 Sam. xv, 22; Amos v, 21-24; Micah vi, 6-8.) It is therefore the perpetual and immutable rule of living, the express image of the internal Divine conception; according to which, God, the great lawgiver, judges it right and equitable that a rational creature should always and in every place order and direct the whole of his life. It is briefly contained in the love God and of our neighbour; (Matt. xxii, 36-39;) whether partly consisting of those services which relate to the love, honour, fear, and worship of God; (Mal. i, 6;) or partly consisting of those duties which we owe to our neighbours, superiors, inferiors, and equals: (Rom. 12,13, & 14;) in the wide circle of which are also comprehended those things which every man is bound to perform to himself. (Tit. ii, 11, 12.)

The uses of the moral law are various, according to the different conditions of man.

(1.) The primary use, and that which was of itself intended by God according to his love for righteousness and for his creatures, was, that man by it might be quickened or made alive, that is, that he might perform it, and by its performance might be justified, and might “of debt” receive the reward which was promised through it. (Rom. ii, 13; x, 5; iv, 4.) And this use was accommodated to the primitive state of man, when sin had not yet entered into the world.

(2.) The first use in order of the moral law, under a state of sin, is AGAINST man as a sinner, not only that it may accuse him of transgression and guilt, and may subject him to the wrath of God and condemnation; (Rom. iii, 19, 20;) but that it may likewise convince him of his utter inability to resist sin and to subject himself to the law. (Rom. 7.) Since God has been pleased mercifully and graciously to treat with sinful man, the next use of the law TOWARDS the sinner is, that it may compel him who is thus convicted and subjected to condemnation, to desire and seek the grace of God, and that it may force him to flee to Christ either as the promised or as the imparted deliverer. (Gal. ii, 16, 17.) Besides, in this state of sin, the moral law is serviceable, not only to God, that, by the dread of punishment and the promise of temporal rewards, he may restrain men under its guidance at least from the outward work of sin and from flagrant crimes; (1 Tim. i, 9, 10;) but it is also serviceable to Sin, when dwelling and reigning in a carnal man who is under the law, that it may inflame the desire of sin, may increase sin, and may “work within him all manner of concupiscence.” (Rom. vi, 12-14; vii, 5, 8, 11, 13.) In the former case, God employs the law through his goodness and his love for civil and social intercourse among mankind. In the latter case, it is employed through the malice of sin which reigns and has the dominion.

(3.) The third use of the moral law is towards a man, as now born again by the Spirit of God and of Christ, and is agreeable to the state of grace, that it may be a perpetual rule for directing his life in a godly and spiritual manner: (Tit. iii, 8; James ii, 8.) Not that man may be justified; because for this purpose it is rendered “weak through the flesh” and useless, even if man had committed only a single sin: (Rom. viii, 3.) But that he may render thanks to God for his gracious redemption and sanctification, (Psalm cxvi, 12, 13,) that he may preserve a good conscience, (1 Tim. i, 19,) that he may make his calling and election sure, (2 Pet. i, 10,) that he may by his example win over other persons to Christ, (1 Pet. iii, 1,) that he may confound the devil, (Job 1 & 2,) that he may condemn the ungodly world, (Heb. xi, 7,) and that through the path of good works he may march towards the heavenly inheritance and glory, (Rom. ii, 7,) and that he may not only himself glorify God, (1 Cor. vi, 20,) but may also furnish occasion and matter to others for glorifying his Father who is in Heaven. (Matt. v, 16.)

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/20/2012 at 9:00 AM

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