The Marrow of Modern Divinity is a mid-17th Century Puritan work on the Christian life and the Covenantal nature of Scripture, written by one E.F. – believed to be pious layman Edward Fisher. The book is essentially a dialogue between a new Christian (Neophytus), a legalist (Nomista), an antinomian (Antinomista), and a Pastor of the Gospel (Evangelista). Evangelista helps both Nomista and Antinomista see the error of their ways and leads them both to saving faith in Christ.
Thomas Boston, one of the great Scottish divines of the early 18th Century, while visiting a member of his parish, spotted this curious religious book on the man’s bookshelf. Boston asked to borrow the book and was so taken with its contents that he had the book reprinted with his own amplifying notes. This action helped, in part, to spur the great Marrow Controversy of the early 18th Century in Scotland – a debate that continues today.
Legalists in the Church of Scotland charged ministers of the gospel who preached a gospel of free grace as antinomian and condemned The Marrow. On the other hand, the Marrow steers away from the opposite error, also rampant throughout church history, known as libertine-ism – a lawless, carnal, cheap, and antinomian view of the life of a believer. The Marrow tries to steer a middle and correct path between these two extremes of error.
The introductory chapter of The Marrow of Modern Divinity, including Thomas Boston’s notes can be found at the link below.
A series of sermons by Scottish Pastor Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, covering the Marrow Controversy and handling the errors of both legalism and anti-nomianism can be found at the links below:
In a series of posts, I hope to explore a bit of the material covered in the Marrow and make some applications for today.