The Philadelphia Confession, 1742
God gave to Adam a law of universal
obedience, written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the
tree of knowledge of good and evil;1 by which He bound him and
all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact and perpetual obedience;2 promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the
breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.3
The same law that was first written in
the heart of man, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall,4 and delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and
written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six
our duty to man.5
Besides this law, commonly called
moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several
typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions,
sufferings, and benefits;6 and partly holding forth divers
instructions of moral duties,7 all which ceremonial laws being
appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and only
law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end, abrogated and taken
To them also He gave sundry judicial
laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue
of that institution; their general equity only being of modern use.9
The moral law doth for ever bind all,
as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof,10
and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the
authority of God the Creator who gave it;11 neither doth
Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.12
Although true believers be not under
the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned,13 yet it is of great use to them, as well as to others, in that,
as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds
them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts,
and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of,
humiliation for, and hatred against sin;14 together with a
clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience: it is
likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin;
and the threatening of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions
in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour
thereof. These promises of it likewise show them God's approbation of obedience, and what
blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the
law as a covenant of works; so as man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the
law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under
the law, and not under grace.15
Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it,16 the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.17
1. Ge 1:27; Ecc 7:29.
2. Ro 10:5.
3. Gal 3:10,12.
4. Ro 2:14-15.
5. Dt 10:4.
6. Heb 10:1; Col 2:17.
7. 1Co 5:7.
8. Col 2:14,16-17; Eph 2:14,16.
9. 1Co 9:8-10.
10. Ro 13:8-10; Jas 2:8,10-12.
11. Jas 2:10-11.
12. Mt 5:17-19; Ro 3:31.
13. Ro 6:14; Gal 2:16; Ro 8:1; 10:4.
14. Ro 3:20; 7:7-25.
15. Ro 6:12-14; 1Pe 3:8-13.
16. Gal 3:21.
17. Eze 36:27.
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