Puritans: Day Two

Two days ago, Andrew noted some clear and wonderful gospel statements by the Puritan, Richard Sibbes. Following in his steps, I thought posting a bit of Thomas Watson on the Ten Commandments would be worth while. In my opinion, the best commentaries on the Ten Commandments are those that clearly distinguish between law and gospel, covenant of works and covenant of grace, as well as the Heidelberg/Reformed guilt/grace/gratitude pattern of the Christian life. In other words, when speaking of the Ten Commandments, the best discussions are those which keep the first and third use of the law clear and distinct, those which clearly note the difference between justification and sanctification. Watson does these things. Here are a few random quotes from Watson’s The Ten Commandments (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999).

Justification: “Not our obedience, but Christ’s merits procure acceptance [before God]” (p. 3).

Justification: In two ways the moral law is abolished for Christians: 1) “In respect of justification. They are not justified by their obedience to the moral law.” 2) “In respect of its curse. They are freed from its curse and condemnatory power” (Ibid.).

Law/Gospel: “The moral law requires obedience, but gives no strength…but the gospel gives strength” (p. 44).

First Use of the Law: The moral law “is a glass to show us our sins, that seeing our pollution and misery, we may be forced to flee to Christ…” (Ibid.).

Covenant of Works/Grace Distinction: The moral law, in those two senses, is abolished for Christians, yet “it remains a perpetual rule to believers.” Though it not be their Savior, it is their guide. Though it be not foedus, a covenant of life; yet it is a norma, a rule of life” (Ibid.).

Sanctification: “God commands us to turn from sin, but alas! we have not power to turn; therefore he has promised to turn us, to put his Spirit within us, and to turn the heart of stone to flesh…. Therefore, Christian, be not discouraged, though thou hast no strength of thy own, God will give thee strength” (p. 47).

With these things in mind, even when Watson gets quite tedious on the different aspects of the Ten Commandments, the reader knows he is not blending biblical and reformation doctrines of justification/sanctification, grace/gratitude, law/gospel, or CoW/CoG. Watson’s treatment of the 10 C’s also is helpful because he often reminds the reader of the gospel and the forgiveness of sins; he also writes topically, in a Q/A way, which makes this book easy to read.

You can find this and other works of Watson here.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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