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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


XL. Ques. What did God at first reveal to for the rule of his obedience?
Ans.
The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.

Q. 1. Are there any other laws which God hath given unto man?
A. The Lord gave other posihve laws to the people of the Jews, which they were bound to yield obedience unto, such as the ceremonial laws; but these laws were not in-tended as a standing rule of obedience for all nations, in all ages, and therefore were, after a time, abrogated or disann'illed; and the not yielding obedience to them by us at this time is no sin.

Q. 2. Doth the moral law continue to be a rule of obedience in the days of the gospel?
A. As the moral law was at first revealed that it might be a rule of man's obedience, so it doth continue so to be unto all men in every nation, unto the end of the world.

Q. 3. How can the moral law be a rule of obedience unto the heathen and infidel world, who are without the light of the Scriptures to make it known unto them ?
A. Though without the light of the Scriptures there cannot be so clear a discovery of the moral law, yet by the light of nature it is made known unto all natioup in some measure, sufficient to leave the very heathen without excuse for their disobedience. " For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto them-selves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts."— Rom. 2:14, 15.

Q. 4. Can any man attain life by obedience unto the moral law?
A. If any man could yield perfect obedience unto the moral law, he might attain life thereby; but all being guilty of sin, perfect obedience is impossible, and life thereby is unattainable; therefore the law was not given unto man after his fall that it might give life. "The law is not of faith; but, The man that doeth them shall live in them."— Gal. 3:12. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God "— Rom. 3:19. "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin."— Gal. 3:21, 22.

Q. 5. Wherefore, then, was the law given, when righteousness and life were not attainable thereby?
A. The law was given to be a schoolmaster to bring men unto Christ, that they might attain life by faith in him. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."— Gal. 3:24.

Q. 6. How doth the law bring men unto Christ?
A. The law bringeth men unto Christ— 1. By convincing men of sin. The prohibitions of the law convince them of their sins of commission; the injunctions of the law convince them of their sins of omission. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin "— Rom. 3:20. 2. By discovering unto them the curse of God which is due' to them for sin, which all guilty sinners do lie under. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."— Gal. 3:10. 3. By awakening the consciences of the guilty, begetting bondage and fear in them; the Spirit working with the law as a spirit of bondage, doth show them their danger and future wrath, because of their disobedience. "These are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage."— Gal 4:24. And thus men are brought unto a sight of their need of Christ, and his perfect righteousness, without which there can be no life and salvation.

Q. 7. When men are brought, and by faith joined unto Christ, doth the moral law cease to be of any further use unto them?
A. Though believers, through their interest in Christ, are delivered from the curse and condemnation, the rigour and irritation, of the moral law, which, whilst out of Christ, they are under, yet the moral law is still of singular use unto believers, to provoke them unto thankfulness for Christ, who hath fulfilled the law in their stead; and to be a rule according to which they ought to endeavour, as much as may be, to order their hearts and lives, however in this life perfection of obedience thereunto is unattainable. "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."— Rom. 7:6, 12. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodli ness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world."— Tit. 2:11, 12.

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