The Law, The Gospel, Our Salvation (Witsius)

 I like how Herman Witsius ended his discussion on the antinomian and neonomian controversy in Britain around 1700.  In the concluding part of this book Witsius discussed the preaching of the law and the gospel.  Here are the last two sections which I’ve slightly edited for length:

…The beginning of the new life is not from the preaching of the law, but of the gospel. The gospel, is the seed of our regeneration, and the law of the Spirit of life, which makes us free from the law of sin and death. Doubtless, while Christ is preached, and life through him, his Spirit falls upon the souls of the elect, and infuses into them a principle of spiritual life. [James 1:18; Galatians 3:2].

…But when that [new] life, infused by the Spirit, through means of the gospel, begins to exert itself; if I am not deceived, it generally proceeds in the following order. That the soul, awakened as from a deep sleep, or faint, or rather death, views itself polluted with sin, guilty of many crimes, abominable unto God, most miserable in every respect, and altogether unable to deliver itself, and therefore seized with pungent grief, and despairing of itself, it pants after salvation, about to come to it from another quarter, to which purpose, the ministry of the law is useful: later it sees Christ held forth in the gospel, and discovering, that in him there is a fulness of salvation, and an abundance of grace, it immediately betakes itself to him, altogether empty of itself, that it may be filled by him; destroyed in and of itself, that it may be saved by him.

It is not possible, that apprehending Christ, and being apprehended by him, it should not, through his inestimable goodness, be inflamed with love to him, and be willing to devote itself wholly to his service, to whom it professes to owe its salvation, nor is it possible that it should not acknowledge him for a Lord, whom it hath found by experience to be a Saviour. And thus again, the gospel brings us back to the law as a rule of gratitude. Hence it is evident, how law and gospel mutually assist one another, in promoting the salvation of the elect; and how sometimes the former, sometimes the latter, takes the lead.

 Herman Witsius, Conciliatory or Irenical Animadversions on the Controversies Agitated in Britain, trans. Thomas Bell (Glasgow: W. Lang, 1807), 190–191.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015




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