Monday Miscellanies: Law

A guest post by Jonathan Edwards

79. Law

The natural reason why it is as Romans 7:8 ff. [says], “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence,” etc. [The] reason why man has the more strong inclination to moral evil when forbidden, is because obedience is submission and subjection, and the commandment is obligation. But natural corruption is against submission and obligation, but loves the lowest kind of liberty as one of those apparent goods that it seeks; and when he disobeys, he looks upon it that he has broke the obligation. When he thinks of the perpetration of such a lust, and thinks how he is strictly upon pain of damnation forbidden, tied by such strict bonds from it, it makes him exceeding uneasy, the consideration is so against corrupt nature; which uneasiness takes away all liberty of thought, and makes the mind dwell upon nothing but the contrary and supposed good, the liberty, causes [him] to meditate upon the pleasantness of the act, and makes it appear much greater than otherwise it would do.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. The motives to believers to perform the commands of God, are [not] because salvation is [upon] the condition of doing them, and damnation what we are obliged to for disobedience; but the amiableness of God, to whom sin is contrary, the loveliness of virtue, and its natural tendency to happiness, which has no such tendency as the other. Wherefore now in gospel times, ’tis requisite that all ceremonial commands should be abolished, which have no intrinsic direct loveliness, nor agreeableness to the lovely God, or tendency to happiness.