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A Treatise on the Law and Gospel Hardcover – May 11, 2012
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"In this book, Colquhoun helps us understand the precise relationship between law and gospel. He also impresses us with the importance of knowing this relationship. Colquhoun especially excels in showing how important the law is as a believer's rule of life without doing injury to the freeness and fullness of the gospel. By implication, he enables us to draw four practical conclusions: 1) the law shows us how to live, 2) the law as a rule of life combats both antinomianism and legalism, 3) the law shows us how to love, and 4) the law promotes true freedom.
1. The Law of God or the Moral Law in General
2. The Law of God as Promulgated to the Israelites from Mount Sinai
3. The Properties of the Moral Law
4. The Rules for Understanding Aright the Ten Commandments
5. The Gospel of Christ
6. The Uses of the Gospel, and of the Law in Subservience to It
7. The Difference between the Law and the Gospel
8. The Agreement between the Law and the Gospel
9. The Establishment of the Law by the Gospel
10. The Believer's Privilege of Being Dead to the Law as a Covenant of Works
11. The High Obligations under Which Believers Lie
12. The Nature, Necessity, and Desert of Good Works
Quote from the Author:
"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. Every passage of sacred Scripture is either law or gospel, or is capable of being referred either to the one or to the other . . . If then a man cannot distinguish aright between the law and the gospel, he cannot rightly understand so much as a single article of divine truth. If he does not have spiritual and just apprehensions of the holy law, he cannot have spiritual and transforming discoveries of the glorious gospel; and, on the other hand, if his view of the gospel is erroneous, his notions of the law cannot be right." John Colquhoun"
About the Author
John Colquhoun (1748-1827) was a minister in the Church of Scotland whose sermons and writings reflect those of the Marrow brethren of the Secession church. Colquhoun's writings are theologically astute and intensely practical. He wrote on the core doctrines of the gospel, particularly on experiential soteriology.
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Joel Beeke wrote the helpful introduction which includes a short bio of Colquhoun (d. 1827) as well as a summary of the book. The chapter divisions are as follows (I've summarized them to save space): 1) The Moral Law in General, 2) The Law of God Promulgated from Mt Sinai, 3) The Properties of the Moral Law, 4) The Rules for Understanding the Ten Commandments, 5) The Gospel, 6) The Uses of the Gospel and How the Law Serves It, 7) The Difference Between the Law and the Gospel, 8) The Agreement Between Them, 9) How the Gospel Establishes the Law, 10) How the Christian is Dead to the Law as a Covenant of Works, 11) The Believers Obligations to the Law, 12) The Nature and Necessity of Good Works.
I enjoyed the emphases on sola fide and justification by the imputation of Christ's righteousness. I also learned many great biblical nuances of what it means that Christians are no longer under the law, as Paul wrote. I highly recommend this book for those who subscribe to or appreciate the Westminster Standards and/or the Three Forms of Unity. The book is just over 300 pages, and since the language is a little dated (early 1800s) and the subject matter is rather detailed, it isn't for causal readers. However, if you've read the Puritans or other theological writings to some extent, you'd be able to read this book just fine. I do wish there was a Scripture index and a topical index, but this doesn't deter me from my hearty endorsement.