Friday, October 20, 2017

Bunyan on Law and Grace

John Bunyan, making the SAT analogy:

Thundering Law: Promise of Grace :: Hagar:Sarah

He writes:
Wherefore whenever thou who believest in Jesus, dost hear the law in its thundering and lightening fits, as if it would burn up heaven and earth; then say thou, I am freed from this law, these thunderings have nothing to do with my soul; nay even this law, while it thus thunders and roareth, it doth allow and approve of my righteousness. I know that Hagar would sometimes be domineering and high, even in Sarah’s house and against her; but this she is not to be suffered to do, nay though Sarah herself be barren; wherefore serve it (the law) also as Sarah served her, and expel her from thy house. My meaning is this, when this law with its thundering threatenings doth attempt to lay hold on thy conscience, shut it out with a promise of grace; cry, the inn is took up already, the Lord Jesus is here entertained, and there is no room for the law. Indeed if it will be content with being my informer, and so lovingly leave off to judge me; I will be content, it shall be in my sight, I will also delight therein; but otherwise, I being now upright without it, and that too with that righteousness, with which this law speaks well of and approveth; I may not, will not, cannot, dare not, make it my Savior and Judge, nor suffer it to set up its government in my conscience; for so doing I fall from grace, and Christ doth profit me nothing. (John Bunyan, The Law and The Christian)
I can agree with this. It is not a treatise against the law per se, it is against letting the law trump (with a lower case 't')  grace. The law convicts and teaches, but don't allow grieving over sin to cross the threshold into despair and unrighteous self-loathing. We are called to joy, not self-flagellation.

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