The Law and All Good Works Must Be Utterly Excluded… (Fisher)

After explaining the differences between the law and the gospel, Edward Fisher (in The Marrow of Modern Divinity) went on to relate these differences to the doctrine of justification. This section struck me again toady; I really appreciate it and wanted to share it. Here’s what Fisher wrote:

And now, knowing rightly how to distinguish between the law and the gospel, we must, in the fifth place, take heed that we break not the orders between these two in applying the law where the gospel is to be applied, either to ourselves or to others; for albeit the law and gospel, in order of doctrine, are many times to be joined together, yet, in the case of justification, the law must be utterly separated from the gospel.

Therefore, whensoever, or wheresoever, any doubt or question arises of salvation, or our justification before God, there the law and all good works must be utterly excluded and stand apart, that grace may appear free, and that the promise and faith may stand alone: which faith alone, without law or works, brings thee in particular to thy justification and salvation, through the mere promise and free grace of God in Christ; so that I say, in the action and office of justification, both law and works are to be utterly excluded and exempted, as things which have nothing to do in that behalf. The reason is this; for, seeing that all our redemption springs out from the body of the Son of God crucified, then is there nothing that can stand us in stead, but that only wherewith the body of Christ is apprehended. Now, forasmuch as neither the law nor works, but faith only is the thing which apprehendeth the body and passion of Christ, therefore faith only is that matter which justifies a man before God, through the strength of that object Jesus Christ, which it apprehends; like as the brazen serpent was the object only of the Israelites’ looking, and not of their hands’ working; by the strength of which object, through the promise of God, immediately proceeded health to the beholden: so the body of Christ being the object of our faith, strikes righteousness to our souls, not through working, but through believing.

Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, p. 342. (Note: this is found in volume seven of Thomas Boston’s Works).

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

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