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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE CHURCH OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, OR UNDER THE PROMISE


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    DISPUTATION LI

    ON THE CHURCH OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, OR UNDER THE PROMISE

    I. As Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and ever -- as he is the chief or deepest corner-stone, upon which the superstructure of the church is raised, being built up both by prophets and apostles, and as he is the head of all those who will be partaken of salvation, the whole church, therefore, may, in this sense, be called "Christian," though under this appellation, peculiarly, comes the church as she began to be collected together after the actual ascent of Christ into heaven.

    II. But though the church be one with respect to its foundation, and of those things which concern the substance itself yet, because it has pleased God to govern it according to different methods, in reference to this the church may, in the most suitable manner, be distinguished into the church which existed in the times of the Old Testament before Christ, and into that which flourished in the times of the New Testament and after Christ appeared on earth.

    III. "The church, prior to the advent of Christ, under the dispensation of the Old Testament," is that which was called out, (by the word of promise concerning the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham, and concerning the Messiah who was subsequently to come,) from the state of sin and misery, to a participation of the righteousness of faith and salvation, and to the faith placed in that promise -- and by the word of the law, to render worship to God in confidence of obtaining mercy in this blessed Seed and the promised Messiah, in a manner suitable to the infantile age of the church herself.

    IV. The word of promise was propounded, in the beginning, in a very general manner and with much obscurity, but in succeeding ages, more specially and with greater distinctness, and still more so, as the times of the advent of the Messiah in the flesh drew nearer.

    V. The law which contributed to this calling, was both the moral and the ceremonial; (for, in this place, the forensic does not come under consideration;) and both of them as delivered orally, and as comprised and proposed in writing by Moses, in which last respect, the law is principally treated upon in the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament.

    VI. The moral law serves this office in a two-fold manner: First, by demonstrating the necessity of the gracious promise, which it does by convincing [men] of sins against the law, and of the weakness [of man] to perform the law. To this purpose it has been rigidly and strictly propounded; and it is considered as so proposed, according to these passages: "The man that doeth them shall live in them," and "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Secondly, by ewieikwv moderately, or with clemency, requiring the observance of it from those who were parties to the covenant of promise.

    VII. Though the observance of the ceremonial law be not, of itself, and on account of itself, pleasing to God, yet the observance of it was prescribed for two purposes:

         (1.) That it might convince of the guilt of sins and of the curse, and might thus declare the necessity of the gracious promise.

         (2.) And that it might sustain believers by the hope of the promise, which hope was confirmed by the typical presignification of future things. In the former of these two respects, the ceremonial law was the seal of sins; but in the latter, it was the seal of grace and remission.

    VIII. The church of those times must, therefore, be considered, both as it is called the heir, and as called the infant, either according to its substance, or according to the dispensation and economy suitable to those times. According to the former of these respects, the church was under the promise or the covenant of promise; and according to the latter respect, she was under the law and under the Old Testament, in regard to which, that people is called servile, or in bondage, and the infant heir "differing in nothing from a servant," as, in regard to the promise, the same people are denominated free, born of a free woman, and according to Isaac "counted for the seed" to whom the promise was made.

    IX. According to the promise, the church was a willing people -- according to the Old Testament, a carnal people; according to the former relation, the heir of spiritual and heavenly blessings; according to the latter, the heir of spiritual and earthly blessings, especially of the land of Canaan and of its benefits. According to the former relation, the church was endowed with the Spirit of adoption; according to the latter, she had this Spirit intermixed with that of bondage as long as the promise continued.

    X. The open consideration of these relations, and a suitable comparison and opposition between the covenant of promise, and the law or the Old Testament, contributes much to the [correct] interpretation of several passages of Scripture, which, otherwise, can scarcely be at all explained, or at least with great difficulty

    COROLLARIES

    I. Because the Old Testament was forced to be abrogated, therefore it was to be confirmed, not by the blood of a testator or mediator, but of brute animals.

    II. "The Old Testament" is never used in the Scriptures for the covenant of grace.

    III. The confounding of the promise and of the Old Testament is productive of much obscurity in Christian theology, and is the cause of more than a single error.

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