Walter Marshall: Abraham Is Not Moses

The end which God aimed at in giving the law of Moses, was not, that any should ever attain to holiness or salvation by condition of perfect or sincere obedience to it; though, if there had been any such way of salvation at that time, it must have consisted in the performance of that law, which was then given to the church, to be a rule of life, as well as a covenant. There was another covenant made before that time with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a covenant of grace, promising all blessings freely through Christ, the promised seed, by which only they were to be saved. And the covenant of the law was added, that they might see their sinfulness, and subjection to death and wrath, and the impossibility of attaining to life or holiness by their works, and be forced to trust on the free promise only for all their salvation, and that sin might be restrained by the spirit of bondage, until the coming of that promised seed Jesus Christ, and the more plentiful pouring out of the sanctifying Spirit, by him. This the apostle Paul shows largely (Gal. 3:15-24; Rom. 5:20,21 and 10:3,4). None of the Israelites under the Old Testament were ever saved by the Sinai covenant; neither did any of them ever attain to holiness by the terms of it. Some of them did indeed perform the commandments of it sincerely, though imperfectly: but those were first justified, and made partakers of life and holiness, by virtue of that better covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which was the same in substance with the new covenant or testament established by the blood of Christ. Had it not been for the better covenant, the Sinai covenant would have proved to them an occasion of no happiness , but only of sin, despair, and destruction. Of itself it was only a killing letter, the ministration of death and condemnation: and therefore it is now abolished, 2 Cor. 3:6,8,9,11. – We have cause to praise God, for delivering His church, by the blood of Christ, from this yoke of bondage; and we have cause to abhor the device of those that would lay upon us a more grievous and terrible yoke, by turning our very new covenant in a covenant of sincere works, and leaving us no such better covenant, as the Israelites had under their yoke, to relieve us in our extremity.”

Walter Marshall (1628–90), The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, 51 (HT: Inwoo Lee)

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  1. Dr Clark,
    Does Thou recommend reading W.M.?? I tried the Original. Tough read
    Then I discovered Bruce McRae’s (New Modern English Version). Wipf, Stock.
    Good so far – but Wish I had your input face to face to explain what I am confused about.
    The workings of what is Spirit and what is mine. Sorry not very clear on that.
    I know Calvin says, Even the best of Xtians are 30% of 100. Something like that.
    What does that make me. Eek.
    But I like Burk Parsons from Ligonier lately. He has been great with answering in a few minutes, on dealing with – Can I be a Xtian and have struggles of besetting sin/s etc.
    He says all our sin is besetting some worse than others and for a lifetime with some.
    IF I had 3 wishes from God, I only need one. . It would be to take me from the earth – so I would never sin against Him again! Period.
    Ah, enuf said.

    (OH! as to an error or ?) below in (Paren) IS it supposed to be (NOT) or leave out the (OUT) of ourselves) in the person …. It was in the PERKINS article I refer to. // JAN 14th. 2020

    …and to depend upon a righteousness (out of ourselves) in the person of Christ, which is His obedience and suffering.”
    William Perkins (1558–1602), The Works of William Perkins, 1.666–67 (HT: Inwoo Lee).

  2. See Hebrews 2:10 It pleased God to make the captain of our salvation perfect through suffering.
    Jesus is our trail blazer and example, our elder brother and like Him we too are being made perfect through suffering. If we are sons, God will change us through our struggles with sin, so we are gradually conformed to the image of our elder brother. That’s the purpose of this life, to prepare us for the next life with Him. It’s a life long process and doesn’t end in perfection until the resurrection, so don’t be discouraged! Philippians 1:6 God has a reason for what He does in you, He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. 1 Cor. 10:13 He will never leave you or forsake you. As far as God is concerned, you are justified and accepted in Christ’s perfect righteousness, not your own, and He is preparing you for the resurrection when you will be perfect like Him. He will never leave you or forsake you. Heb. 13:5.

    • OH! Thanx again Angela for your comments!!
      Marshalls book as original is not easy to read and somewhat hard to… HUH?
      So I discovered the McRae updated Marshall. So much better.
      1600s language just doesn’t cut it for todays people – not me anyway.

      I Will have to just work my way thru the book and try to get what its meant for
      and not drive myself nuts. Phil 1:6 is right – But my nature doesn’t like the outcome
      of what seems to be, that God is in control but how can my sins be for my good?
      I don’t like what I really struggle with. Is that ok with God and His working in me,
      but never taking away my desire/s for what sin/s can happen too often?
      Jesus died for all my sin, past Present and future – but one wouldn’t know it
      today with all the Telling us what to do and when and where.

      Or some of these guys that SAY if you do this – its over for you. I said this before.
      It would be nice to have a life of no besetting sin. Seems its all that way tho.
      Amazing what happens when we are not on our guard or just don’t want to be.
      Perkins is right on and its good to re-read him often, so I don’t go off the rails so often.
      I just get tired of ALL the books and videos and you name it. That are constantly
      at us to perform and measure up and you better do this and don’t do that. Endless.
      How many more books do we need nowadays? I feel Discipleship suffers due to books!
      I looked into Perkins books – lot of $$! and was not easy to read. So may just get what
      is on Monergism.
      Anyway, Enuf of me again. At my age 66. What goes in – falls out the back to quickly. 🙁
      Thanx again. Will stick with Heidelblog – I don’t know how Scott deals with some of
      the comments that are never ending or frustrating to read. Some just don’t get it!! True.

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