Jul 16, 2010

16 Questions by William Huntington

[Quoted from "Excommunication..." ]

We appeal to Mr. Ryland; and to Mr. Ryland, junior, we will go, to know,

1. Whether the law ever had any other power than to command to do for life, and to condemn to death for not doing? If it ever had any other power than the twofold authority above-mentioned, to shew us what that power is, and whereabouts in God's word that authority stands?

2. If it ever had, since the days of Christ, any commanding power over the believer, to do, from life; where, in God's word, that power stands? "The law and the prophets were until John; but, since that time, the kingdom of God is preached."

3. If the believer is under the law, as a rule of life, which is doing for life, for the law never had any other power, wherein the believer, who is delivered from the law, differs from him that is under it, and under the curse of it?

4. If the believer is under the law, as his rule of life, what advantage doth the believer reap from the surety's perfect obedience to the precept, by the faith of which a man receives justification unto life, seeing the debtor is still under the yoke of the precept, to do for life?

5. If insisting that we are justified from the commanding precept of the law by the active obedience of the surety, and that we are justified from the execution of the law's sentence by the passive obedience, or blood of the surety, be antinomianism; then what is gospel? seeing the scriptures aver, that he that believeth is justified freely from all things; from his own ungodliness, from the precept and penalty of the law, which are the most material things that he is justified from?

6. If the old covenant be the only rule of the heirs of promise, how we are to understand the promise of God which saith, "A new covenant will I make with the house of Israel; not according to the old," seeing "that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away? And, if it were ready to vanish away seventeen hundred. years ago in the church of Christ, how it comes to be so essential an article of faith in the churches of Christ now?

7. How a soul that is become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that it should be married to another; and the law being dead to that soul, wherein he were held, that he should serve in newness of spirit; can be the commanding husband of this new-married widow; and the only rule of this new service, in the newness of the Spirit?

8. How a believer in Christ can be said to be made free by the truth, and by his faith in the Son of God to be free indeed, if he is still under the precept of the moral law, which is the heaviest yoke in all the world?

9. How a person, in the apostolic age, came to be condemned, as a subverter of souls, by the whole synod of apostles, for saying, "Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses;" when these very words, for the which they were condemned, are now made the first article in the confession of faith demanded by gospel ministers in the present day?

10. How the law of commandments, contained in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, can be said to be blotted out, and to be taken out of the way, and to be nailed to the Saviour's cross; if the saint is still under it, as his rule of life? And if it is objected, that the ceremonial law is there meant, which allowed of a sacrifice for transgressions committed against the moral law; then I answer, that the ceremonial law was the gospel of that day. And I ask also, whether it was the ceremonial law that was against them, and contrary to them, when it was a refuge for them to fly to in case of sin? And I ask further, whether it was the ceremonial law, or the ministration of condemnation engraven upon tables of stone, that contained the sentence of death? And, if it is granted that the moral law was armed with that sentence, then it is clear that it was the moral law that was against us, and that was contrary to us, which was taken out of the way, and nailed to the Saviour's cross. If it was the moral law that cursed and condemned Christ, then it was that which was nailed to the cross. Besides, Paul was writing to the Gentile Colossians when he advanced that point, who never were under the ceremonial law.

11. If it be answered, the believer is not without law to God; then I reply, What law does he hold, seeing God has promised to write his laws in his heart, and put them into his mind? But it shall be a new covenant; not according to the covenant which he made with Israel, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt; which is a disannulling the commandment going before.

12. But if it be replied, that we are under the law to Christ; then I ask, what law? seeing Paul says, it is the law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, that made him free from the law of sin and death. And, if the moral law made him free from the law of sin and death how the ministration of death engraven on tables of stone, came to be divided against itself? And how it came to usurp the authority of delivering a criminal from it's own sentence, which none but a clement Sovereign, through the satisfaction of a Mediator, could do?

13. What, being redeemed from the law, being delivered from the law, being not under the law, and against the believer there being no law, and the law not being made for a believer, or a righteous man, can mean?

14. If the law that was against us, and contrary to us, be taken out of the way, and nailed to the Saviour's cross; how it came into so great use in our days, as to be the only rule of life, and the first article of the confession of faith?

15. I would wish Mr. Ryland, as an able divine, to be sure to set us to rights in the following arduous task, which is set by the apostle Paul, as it so plainly respects the moral law; "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." How the killing letter can be a living rule, while the Spirit giveth life; seeing the gospel is called the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes us free from the law of sin and death, which Paul says, is engraven on tables of stone?

16. Paul adds; "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more froth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." The death of Christ blotted out the commanding and condemning power of the law, and nailed its twofold power to the cross; it being a hand-writing, a killing letter, that was against us for sin; and contrary to us, we being carnal, sold under sin. And, as for the glory of the law, that glory is blotted out by the glory that excelleth; for it had no glory in respect to the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light. "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious."

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