Turretin on Natural Law

Product Details Near the beginning of his 3-volume theological work, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Francis Turretin (d. 1687) argues from Scripture that all humans have a sense of the divine (sensus divinitatis).  One reference he uses to prove this point is Romans 2:14-15 (quoted below).  Here are his comments.

“We find in man a natural law written upon each one’s conscience excusing and accusing them in good and bad actions, which therefore necessarily implies the knowledge of God, the legislator, by whose authority it binds men to obedience and proposes rewards or punishments.”

“‘For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, (i.e. the law of Moses) by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them’ (Rom 2:14-15).  This could not be said if conscience did not dictate to each one that there is a deity who approves of good actions and disapproves and punishes evil deeds. 

…For the inscription (of the law) implies a natural revelation of that law to the conscience opposed to the external revelation made to the Jews by the writing upon stony tablets.  Hence it is expressed by the conscience which exerts itself both in observation and in consciousness (v. 15).

Francis Turretin, Institutes, vol. 1 p. 7.

shane lems

hammond, wi

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