The Gospel sends us back to the Law?

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MarieP

Puritan Board Senior
I saw this quoted on Facebook:

"We cry down the law when it comes to our justification, but we set it up when it comes to our sanctification. The Law drives us to the Gospel that we are justified, then sends us to the Law again to show us our duty now that we are justified" (Puritan: Thomas Boston).

I don't know where Boston says this, so the context may be helpful. But I'm a bit uneasy with the picture he paints. Surely Boston did not mean that we go away from the Gospel to the Law to be sanctified, right? Is it not the Gospel that enables us to keep God's moral Law? Is it not the Spirit in our hearts and the Law written there that drives us to obey?

I don't think Boston would disagree, but I am just a bit puzzled by the picture. What about this picture: the Law sends us to the Gospel, and the Gospel writes the Law on our hearts.

---------- Post added at 02:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:37 PM ----------

Just found this quote by Calvin:
"Whereas the law was engraven on stones in the ministry of Moses, the Spirit in the ministry of the gospel writes the law on the hearts of men. The whole excellence of the gospel depends on this, that it is made life-giving to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit" (Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. XX, p. 187).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I saw this quoted on Facebook:

"We cry down the law when it comes to our justification, but we set it up when it comes to our sanctification. The Law drives us to the Gospel that we are justified, then sends us to the Law again to show us our duty now that we are justified" (Puritan: Thomas Boston).

Three points.

First, a search through his works has not brought up a match on this statement. The closest is to be found in his Miscellany Questions, which is in vol. 6 of his works. It is as follows, "They cry down the law and a legal walk, which is, no doubt, the bane of many professors; but plucking up the law out of the conscience in the matter of justification, and a sinner’s acceptance with God, they root it out of the heart in the matter of sanctification."

Secondly, the phrase "cry down the law" was used in a distinct way in the Antinomian controversy of the 17th century. The Antinomians cried it down, so the orthodox spoke of crying it up. It was not intended to suggest that the law itself produces the grace to obey it. As the Boston quotation from the Miscellany Questions demonstrates, the emphasis was upon the law being in the heart.

Thirdly, the statement, even as it stands in the unattested quotation, is theologically sound because the whole virtue of the law is confined to its ability to "show us our duty now that we are justified." There is no suggestion of natural ability to obey the law. Sanctification as a work of God's free grace is not undermined in the least.
 
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