Caspar Olevianus on the "Law of Nature"

Christ the King engenders in his elect zeal for reconciling themselves to God: first of all by showing that all men are under sin, and in the kingdom darkness, especially because since all men have the knowledge of God naturally engrafted in them and the work of the law by nature written in their hearts, and by the things created are constrained to know God, but nevertheless do not glorify him, but do sin contrary to the law of nature (Rom. 1) The thing which they witness in their deeds, and their own conscience convinces their thoughts, either accusing or excusing them. Again by encountering all and every of their wickednesses, and in accusing them by the law written, and by the threatenings which are manifest everywhere throughout the whole prophets, many wickednesses also being heaped together as plainly may be seen in the Epistle to the Romans Chapter 3 v. 9-14. And also by showing that this is the unchangeable will of God, whereby he will not only that all men be conformed to the law of nature, but also to the law written, otherwise that he will so long account them for sinners and enemies till they be converted, and through faith be reconciled unto God.

Caspar Olevianus | Expositio (1576)


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  1. Clark: What do you think of John Murray’s statement: “Yes, the conscience of man may give us the dictum that there is a distinction between right and wrong, that it is right to do right and that it is wrong to do wrong, but it cannot tell us what the right is, nor how we are to apply it and fulfil it. The fact is that in the matter of right and wrong we are just as dependent upon special divine revelations as we are in the realm of truth. It is the principle of our Christian faith that we have in holy Scripture a complete infallible and sufficient rule of duty and conduct. [The Sanctity of the Moral Law, Committe on Christian Ed. publication]

  2. It sounds as if you two actually disagree. “Man has a conscience and that means that in some vague sense at least he recognizes that there is a distinction between right and wrong…We must remind the naturalistic moralist that his conscience has fallen, as we remind the Arminian that his will has also.”

    Just from experience I must say much of the law of God is only vaguely known apart from Scripture. How do fallen men w/o the Bible know about marriage, divorce & remarriage, just war, etc.? We in America are still operating from Christian capital. Go to a culture where the Bible has not been known and revered and natural law has a very different look.

    I’d say Murray enunciates what my experience and instinct tell me. But, yes, he was wrong about the covenant of works.

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