The Law/Gospel Distinction in Scotland

John Colquhoun (d. 1827) was a minister in the Church of Scotland for 46 years.  Colquhoun was influenced by Thomas Boston and ended up writing quite a few books on theological topics like the covenant of grace, the covenant of works, repentance, and faith.  Below is a selection from his Treatise on the Law and the Gospel (published in 1816).

“By ‘the law’ here is meant the moral law as a covenant of works, and by ‘the gospel’ is meant the gospel in its strict and proper sense.”

“To know the difference so as to be able to distinguish aright between the law and the gospel is of the utmost importance to the faith, holiness, and comfort of every true Christian.  If he does not know the difference between the law and the gospel he will be apt, especially in the affair of justification, to confound the one with the other.  The consequence will be that in his painful experience, bondage will be mixed with liberty of spirit, fear with hope, sorrow with joy, and death with life.  If he cannot so distinguish the gospel from the law as to expect all his salvation from the grace of the gospel, and nothing of it from the works of the law, he will easily be induced to connect his own works with the righteousness of Jesus Christ in the affair of justification.”

“This was the error of the Judaizing teachers in the churches of Galatia.  They mingled the law with the gospel in the business of justification, and thereby they so corrupted the gospel as to alter the very nature of it and make it another gospel.”

Next time I’ll give a summary of Colquhoun’s law/gospel distinction in various points.  The above quote is found in John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel, 141.

rev shane lems

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