The Marrow of Modern Divinity is a charming 17th Century book by Edward Fisher that provides a dialogue by a new Christian, Neophytus, and two nominal ‘Christians’ – Nomista and Antinomista, a legalist and libertine, respectively, regarding the use of the law in the life of a believer. The men appeal to Evangelista, a minister of the Gospel, to explain the true Gospel. Nomista explains to the men the Federal nature of the Scriptures by making use of three ways by which the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘law’ in his writtings –
- Law of Works (Rom 3:19-20) – The perfect moral standard of obedience which God demands from His creatures. This law has been violated by all humanity.
- “Law” of Faith (the Gospel, Rom 3:27) – The necessary seeking of Christ for mercy, because one has transgressed God’s law. Thus, men have forefeited justification by legal obedience and seek to be justified by the grace of God through Faith.
- Law of Christ (Gal 6:2) – Once one is justified by the “Law” of Faith, one lives in thankful obedience to his Redeemer and Saviour – Jesus Christ.
In chapter 2 of the Marrow, Evangelista begins to explain to the two false professors and the new believer that the nature of the Gospel of Grace. Having dispatched with Nomista’s heretical notion that man is capable of meriting salvation by the work of his own hands, Antinomista begins, “I beseech you, sir, proceed to help us to the true knowledge of the law of faith.”
To this, that minister of the gospel replies:
The law of faith is as much as to say the covenant of grace, or the gospel, which signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings; that is to say, that God, to whose eternal knowledge all things are present, and nothing past or to come, foreseeing man’s fall, before all time purposed, and in time promised, and in the fullness of time performed, the sending of his Son Jesus Christ into the world, to help and deliver fallen mankind.
This quaint and alliterative response provides the outline for Fisher’s chapter on the Gospel – purposed, promised, and performed. Fisher’s outline, and Thomas Boston’s footnoted supporting scriptures, would provide any minister of the gospel with a great outline for a sermon on God’s plan for the redemption of fallen man as revealed in the gospel.
A. “Who hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Tim 1:9)
B. “According to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph 3:11)
C. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11)
D. See Romans 8:28, 9:11
II. Promised (Prophesied)
“The gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy Scriptures.” (Romans 1:1-2, see also Gen 3:15, Isaiah 53 and NUMEROUS Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah)
“”But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” (Gal 4:4-5, and almost all of the NT)
And may I be so bold as to add to what Fisher and Boston have produced as to include that which is most prominent during this present age:
IV. Published! (Preached)
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7, see also, Romans 10:15)