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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Gospel, a Law

It has been disputed whether the Gospel consists merely of promises, or whether it can in any sense be called a law. The answer plainly depends upon adjusting the meaning of the words Gospel and law: if the Gospel be taken for the declaration God has made to men by Christ, concerning the manner in which he will treat them, and the conduct he expects from them, it is plain that this includes commands, and even threatenings, as well as promises; but to define the Gospel so, as only to express the favourable part of that declaration, is indeed taking the question for granted, and confining the word to a sense much less extensive than it often has in Scripture: compare Romans 2:16 . 2 Thessalonians 1:8 . 1 Timothy 1:10-11 .; and it is certain, that, if the Gospel be put for all the parts of the dispensation taken in connection one with another, it may well be called, on the whole, a good message. In like manner the question, whether the Gospel be a law or not, is to be determined by the definition of the law and of the Gospel, as above. If law signifies, as it generally does, the discovery of the will of a superior, teaching what he requires of those under his government, with the intimation of his intention of dispensing rewards and punishments, as this rule of their conduct is observed or neglected; in this latitude of expression, it is plain, from the proposition, that the Gospel, taken for the declaration made to men by Christ, is a law, as in Scripture it is sometimes called, James 1:25 . Ron. 4: 15. Romans 8:2 . But if law be taken in the greatest rigour of the expression, for such a discovery of the will of God, and our duty, as to contain in it no intimation of our obtaining the Divine favour otherwise than by a perfect and universal conformity to it, in that sense the Gospel is not a law.

See NEONOMIANS. Witsius on Cov. vol.iii. ch. 1; Doddridge's Lect. lect. 172; Watts's Orthodoxy and Charity, essay 2.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Gospel, a Law'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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