The Law Says… The Gospel Says…

In his 19th century book, The Christian Ministry, Charles Bridges takes some time to explain the necessity of preaching the law and the gospel rightly.  He talks clearly about a law/gospel distinction as well as the third use of the law (the law as a guide of gratitude).  At one point, he quotes Scottish reformer, Patrick Hamilton (d. 1528), who wrote Loci Communes Theogogici (also known as “Patrick’s Places”).  Here are a few excerpts from Hamilton on the law/gospel distinction.

The Law shows us,
Our sin.
Our condemnation,
Is the word of ire.
Is the word of despair.
Is the word of displeasure.

The Gospel shows us,
A remedy for it.
Our redemption,
Is the word of grace.
Is the word of comfort.
Is the word of peace.

The Law says,
Pay thy debt.
Thou art a sinner desperate.
And thou shalt die.

The Gospel says,
Christ hath paid it.
Thy sins are forgiven thee.
Be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved.

The Law says,
Make amends for thy sin.
The Father of Heaven is angry with thee.
Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction?
Thou art bound and obliged unto me, to the devil, and to hell.

The Gospel says,
    Christ hath made it for thee.
Christ hath pacified him with his blood.
Christ is thy righteousness, thy goodness, and satisfaction.
Christ hath delivered thee from them all.

– Patrick Hamilton –

rev. shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond, wi

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2 comments on “The Law Says… The Gospel Says…

  1. Nevada says:

    Good old Bridges! There’s a great deal of wisdom in those pages. Out of curiosity: have you read George Herbert’s “The Country Parson”? Herbert was a 17th century Anglican clergyman who not only wrote beautiful poetry but also careful counsel to pastors.

    • Nevada – I’ve heard of Herbert, but I have not read the book you mentioned. Maybe I’ll check it out when I’m in for another pastoral book. Thanks!

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