Francis Nigel Lee on "Sundry" in WCF 19.4

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bconway52

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you think this is a valid distinction he is making here? I can't seem to find support for this view either in the context, sentence structure or in any other author commenting on WCF 19.4. In the context of 19.4 the paragraphs speak of the entire moral law, entire ceremonial law...WHY would the divines then speak of only part of the judicial law to the exclusion of the "non-sundry" judicial laws?? It just doesn't make sense.



Quoted from "ARE THE MOSAIC LAWS FOR TODAY?"

Source: http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs4/atmlft/atmlft.pdf



"Now the Westminster Confession does seem to distinguish very clearly – and very rightly – between the ceremonial and the judicial laws. For after describing the abiding “moral duties” held forth in the ceremonials, it further states that “all of the ceremonial laws are now abrogated [or recalled or repealed or rescinded] under the New Testament” – and that it was precisely at the cross that they were so abrogated.

But the Confession then also goes on to declare that only “sundry [or several] judicial laws...expired together with the State [or Politeia]”of the people of Israel – many decades after the cross, when the Romans destroyed the Israelitic body politic in A.D. 70. Moreover, the Confession implicitly teaches that even those “sundry judicial laws” still oblige all people to obey them – as far as “the general equity thereof may require.”

Hence, all the ceremonial laws have been abrogated at the cross. But sundry judicial laws were not abrogated at the cross at all; only expiring together with the State or Politeia of ancient Israel some four decades later.

Again, the ceremonial laws as such do not obtain at all under the New Testament economy. Yet the sundry judicial laws of ancient Israel still obtain among all nations – and oblige all people to obey them, as far as “the general equity thereof may require.”

Not surprisingly, the Confession then goes on to declare that “the Spirit of Christ” subdues and enables the will of man to do that “freely and cheerfully which the will of God revealed in the Law requireth to be done.” So God’s revealed will requires that all men keep the Moral Law; and the general equity in even the expired sundry judicial laws requires that all men be obliged to keep them to the full extent of that general equity. Moreover, as we shall demonstrate a few paragraphs later, the non-sundry judicial laws are Pre-Mosaic and indeed still binding."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
in my opinion, its a poor reading which only serves to support the thesis.

Here's 19.4:
To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.
He reads that "sundry... laws... expired." Granted, however, that "sundry" has to be the exact same "sundry" as is stated in the ellipsis. God gave the people "sundry judicial laws," which in context refers to the unspecified aggregate of the laws not heretofore referenced in the divisions: Moral and Ceremonial.

Frankly, any other reading is a "special-pleading" reading, for the purpose of saving some of the judicials out of the total. BUT (!) that's why the phrase at the end is added in: "...not obliging any other [state] now, further than the general equity thereof may require."

Assume the contrary supposition: Did God give them also, as a body politic, sundry other judicial laws, which get no mention in the text of the Confession? This is the "implied" position FNL takes. But if this be implied, then also one may infer that Israel obtained "sundry laws" found in the Bible from Some Other Source. It's arbitrary to reduce the inference on one end, while opening it up on the other.

Bottom line is, either of these suppositions suffers from the original error: reading "sundry" simply as if it were "several" out of an undefined or unspecified mass.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
in my opinion, its a poor reading which only serves to support the thesis.

Here's 19.4:
Quote:
To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

And what would a change of politics have to do with God's law?

Did those sundry laws expire after the Babylonian captivity, only to be re-instated when the Persians permitted and helped fund a revived Jewish State?

And if so, after those sundry laws expired after 73 AD, did they become re-instated after the UN allowed and helped fund a revived Jewish State?

When Christ was a babe, Judea was a Protectorate, which is a State, but when He was about 6 the Protectorate was disolved, and Judea became a Roman Provence until the rebellion. So were those laws binding until Christ was six, then abolished, and then revived again for a short period?

I heard a sermon a couple years ago that said eating blood was banned from after Noah landed the Arc to 70AD, but now it's OK, and I've never been able to see any Biblical principle one could clearly use to support that.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Do you think this is a valid distinction he is making here? I can't seem to find support for this view either in the context, sentence structure or in any other author commenting on WCF 19.4. In the context of 19.4 the paragraphs speak of the entire moral law, entire ceremonial law...WHY would the divines then speak of only part of the judicial law to the exclusion of the "non-sundry" judicial laws?? It just doesn't make sense.

The Divines are not speaking of part of the judicial law and excluding another part of it. Rather the non-sundry judicial laws Lee is referring to are not laws given to Israel at Sinai but are pre-Mosaic judicial stipulations, something not mentioned in ch.19 at all.

"ARE THE MOSAIC LAWS FOR TODAY?"

Source: http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs4/atmlft/atmlft.pdf

"Now the Westminster Confession does seem to distinguish very clearly – and very rightly – between the ceremonial and the judicial laws. For after describing the abiding “moral duties” held forth in the ceremonials, it further states that “all of the ceremonial laws are now abrogated [or recalled or repealed or rescinded] under the New Testament” – and that it was precisely at the cross that they were so abrogated.

But the Confession then also goes on to declare that only “sundry [or several] judicial laws...expired together with the State [or Politeia]”of the people of Israel – many decades after the cross, when the Romans destroyed the Israelitic body politic in A.D. 70. Moreover, the Confession implicitly teaches that even those “sundry judicial laws” still oblige all people to obey them – as far as “the general equity thereof may require.”

Hence, all the ceremonial laws have been abrogated at the cross. But sundry judicial laws were not abrogated at the cross at all; only expiring together with the State or Politeia of ancient Israel some four decades later.

Again, the ceremonial laws as such do not obtain at all under the New Testament economy. Yet the sundry judicial laws of ancient Israel still obtain among all nations – and oblige all people to obey them, as far as “the general equity thereof may require.”

Not surprisingly, the Confession then goes on to declare that “the Spirit of Christ” subdues and enables the will of man to do that “freely and cheerfully which the will of God revealed in the Law requireth to be done.” So God’s revealed will requires that all men keep the Moral Law; and the general equity in even the expired sundry judicial laws requires that all men be obliged to keep them to the full extent of that general equity. Moreover, as we shall demonstrate a few paragraphs later, the non-sundry judicial laws are Pre-Mosaic and indeed still binding."

Lee is indeed making a valid distinction here; he is discussing both Mosaic judicial laws and pre-Mosaic judicial laws and distinguishing between them, while WCF 19:1-4 speaks only of the Mosaic judicial laws. The pre-Mosaic judicial laws were an issue that was not explicitly considered by the Divines in ch. 19: they seem to have recognized that all pre-Sinai judicial laws given by God remain applicable today by general equity. Certainly Anthony Burgess, who was on the committee that drafted WCF 19:4, took this tack when he anchored the contemporary justifcation for capital punishment in one of these stipulations, to wit Gen 9:6. (Anthony Burgess, Vindiciae Legis, pp. 188, 189).

Lee is also Confessional in his statment of the applicable extent of the "sundry" expired laws.
 
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TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
But the Confession then also goes on to declare that only “sundry [or several] judicial laws...expired together with the State [or Politeia]”of the people of Israel – many decades after the cross, when the Romans destroyed the Israelitic body politic in A.D. 70.

I don't think we should be so quick to assume that the authors of the WCF were talking about politics, i.e. 70 A.D. If you look at what the WFC says

IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.[7]

and then the footnote,

[7] (EXO 21-22) GEN 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

then by State they're not talking about political fortunes, but rather covenantal standing. After the veil was torn in two, the Temple was just a museum. Romans burning down a building and occupying a capitol can't change theology.

Any comments would be welcome.

PS the footnote is longer, and contains

EXO 21-22) GEN 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 1PE 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. MAT 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 1CO 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
 
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