Comments on the Law and the Gospel (Colquhoun)

If you’re looking for another helpful resource on the law/gospel distinction, check this one out: A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun (d. 1827). Colquhoun was was a pastor in the Church of Scotland and was deeply influenced and edified by the writings of Thomas Boston. I’ve mentioned A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel here before, so I won’t go into it in detail now. However, suffice it to say that it is a pretty comprehensive and balanced explanation of the law/gospel distinction. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Colquhoun on this topic.

The law and the gospel are the principal parts of divine revelation; or rather they are the center, sum, and substance of all the other parts of it….

The promise of eternal life to the saints is the promise of the covenant of grace or the gospel, and not of the law as a rule of duty. Eternal life is promised to them not in consideration of their sincere obedience to the law as a rule of life, but on account of Christ’s perfect obedience to it as a covenant of works, received by faith and imputed by God.

Believers are perfectly and irreversibly justified….

If he [a person] 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 law condemns, and cannot justify a sinner: the gospel justifies, and cannot condemn the sinner who believes in Jesus.

The law shows the sinner his disease; the gospel presents him with healing balm, the balm in Gilead, and the Physician there.

Whatever the law requires, the gospel, in the most abundant measure, supplies.

I could go on! This hopefully gives you a sample and makes you want to read it: A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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