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 Issues | Doctrine | The Moral Law

 

The Moral Law

Article 7 of the 39 Articles:

'The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.'

 

Articles relevant to this issue:

 

Extract from Preface to Archbishop James Ussher's A Body of Divinity.

By Duncan Boyd:

'...it [A Body of Divinity] has a clear commitment to the doctrine of the moral law. This classic Reformed view of the law has been challenged both without and within evangelical circles and particularly in evangelical Anglicanism. Contemporary Anglicanism is tainted with an antinomian spirit that Ussher would have abhorred. He rightly saw that the law defines sin and that the so-called tertius usus legis(1) is the path of Christian holiness. The two great commandments are made explicit in the Ten Commandments and no Christian can claim to be exempt from any of them. This is particularly true of the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath, which has been all but abandoned within evangelical Anglicanism. Nonetheless Ussher correctly saw that the Sabbath command is a creation ordinance and not only fundamental to the health of the Christian Church but also of society in general. It is because of the importance that Ussher attached to the moral law that he devotes a large part of the work to a detailed exposition of the Decalogue.'

(1) The Reformers distinguished three uses of the moral law—1 the usus politicus, that is the use of the law in the body politic, 2 the usus pedagogicus, the use of the law in convicting us of sin and leading to Christ and 3 the usus normativus or tertius usus, the use of the law as a rule of life for the Christian.

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