Archive for May, 2010

A Westminster Divine on the Law (Moral, Ceremonial & Judicial)

May 31, 2010

I’ve nearly finished working through Obadiah Sedgwick for my thesis.  I have a few others to write up (Manton & Rutherford being the main two) and then that will be the final chapter complete (still a few months off).  There is so much of Sedgwick that is relevant for the Church today that is not relevant for my thesis that I may spend some time posting extracts from his works.  Here is Sedgwick discussing the law of God and its relation to the believer today:

First, concerning the law of God, you know there are some of them:

1. Ceremonial, which consisted in Rites, and Ordinances, and Shadows, typifying Jesus Christ in his sufferings, unto which there was a full period put by the death of Christ.
2. Judicial, which respecteth the Jews as a peculiar Nation and Commonwealth, being made and fitted for them, as in such a particular polity: And all those judicial Laws (especially these de jure particulari) are ceased by the cessation of that Nation and polity.
3. Moral, which are set down in the Decalogue, and are called the ten words (or Commandments) which God spake and delivered.  Of the ten commandments (which we call the Moral Law) is the question to be understood, whether believers, or people in the New Covenant are bound by them.

Secondly this Moral Law may be considered either 1. In the substance of it; or only 2. in the circumstances of it.  If you consider the Moral Law as to the substance of it, so it is:
1. An eternal manifestation of the mind and will of God, declaring what is good, and what is evil; what we are to do, and what we are not to do; what duties we owe to God, and what duties we do owe to our neighbours; what worship God requires, and what worship God forbids: In this consideration the Moral Law never ceaseth in respect of any person whatsoever.
2. It discovers sin: For, Rom. 3:9, By the Law cometh the knowledge of sin: And the Apostle in Rom. 7:7, I had not known sin but by the Law; for I had not known lust except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  In this respect likewise, the Law is still in force even unto the people of God; it is the glass which shows them unto themselves, and the light which manifests the hidden things and the works of darkness in them.
3. The rule of life: For as the Gospel is the rule of faith, teaching us what to believe; so the Moral Law is the rule of manners, teaching us how to live; and as to this directing power, it is still of force and use unto believers: Ps. 119:105, Thy word is a light unto my feet, and a lamp unto my path. Ver. 133, Order my steps in thy word.

But then secondly, the Law may be considered in respect of its circumstances, not as a Rule of obedience, but as it is a condition of life, and thus as considered:
1. It requires a perfect and perpetual obedience, and that under a curse: Gal. 3:10, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all that is written to do it: Here now it ceaseth unto the people of God, the cursing and condemning power is abrogated; Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, Gal. 3:13.
2. It requires an exact obedience as a reason of Justification: Do this and live.  Here likewise the people of God are freed from it; who (as Luther well speaks) shall not be damned for their evil works, nor yet shall be justified for their good works: but are justified by faith in Christ…

Thus you see in what respects the people of God are freed from, and in what respects they are still obliged by the Law: The Law hath not power to condemn or justify them, yet it hath a power to direct and instruct them.

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Bowels of Tender Mercy Sealed in the Everlasting Covenant, 646-6.

Updated: to remove glaring typo – “Rights” amended to “Rites”.

How Can We Fill our Churches?

May 17, 2010

d-martyn-lloyd-jonesNotes of  a discussion at Westminster Chapel in 1944:

The question [how can we fill our churches] was admitted for discussion, and the members of the group began making suggestions along the lines of more music, livelier music, special musical numbers, shorter sermons, sermons not so deep, more variety in the services, etc.  I was listening to all this with mounting consternation, and when, in response to the idea that the church members could help fill the galleries by inviting others to the services, someone said that such invited visitors would not return a second time if they did not enjoy the service, I was finally constrained to raise my hand and request the floor.  I do not recall my exact words, but I presented myself as one who had come among them as a stranger, had come a second time, liked everything I saw and heard, and was obviously continuing to come.  Dr L[loyd]-J[ones] smilingly thanked me for ‘the first kind words I’ve heard this evening!’   He then rose and asked the group what they would say if he told them he knew a way to ensure that every seat in the Chapel would be filled on the following Lord’s Day.  He assured them that he did, in fact, know how this could be accomplished.  ‘Tell us, tell us!’, they said, and ‘Let’s do it!’.  ‘It’s very simple’, he said.  ‘Simply put a notice in the Saturday edition of The Times that I shall appear in the pulpit the next day wearing a bathing costume!’.  This was followed, of course, by a period of shocked silence.  He then went on to expound the biblical basis for proper worship, using as counterpoint the error, just then beginning to be prevalent, of introducing various forms of entertainment into the worship service as a means of enticing people to attend.

Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, 112.