The Judicial Law, as Judicial, has been Abolished | Samuel Rutherford

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That this Author saith, God commanded those that transgressed his holy Law with an high hand, and presumptuously to be killed, lest they should live and profane his holy things; I defend not: But sure Erastus erreth, who will have all such to be killed by the Magistrate under the New Testament, because they were killed in the Old: Then are we to stone men that gathereth sticks on the Lord’s Day; the child that is stubborn to his Parents, the Virgins, daughters of Ministers that committeth fornication are to be put to death. Why, but then the whole judicial Law of God shall oblige us Christians as Carolosladius and others teach? I humbly conceive that the putting of some to death in the Old Testament, as it was a punishment to them, so it was mysterious teach of us, how God hated such and such sins, and mysteries of that kind are gone with the other shadows. But we read not (saith Erastus) where Christ hath changed those Laws in the New Testament. It is true, Christ hath not said in particular, I abolish the debarring of the leper seven days, and he that is thus and thus unclean shall be separated until the evening; nor hath he said particularly of every carnal Ordinance and judicial Law, it is abolished. Be we conceive, the whole bulk of the judicial Law, as judicial, and as it concerned the Republick of the Jews only, is abolished, though the moral equity of all those be not abolished; also some punishments were merely symbolical, to teach the detestation of such a vice, as the boaring with an aul the ear of him that loved his Master, and desired still to serve him, and the making of him his perpetual servant. I should think the punishing with death the man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath was such; and in all this, the punishing of a sin against the Moral Law by the Magistrate, is Moral and perpetual; but the punishing of every sin against the Moral Law, tali modo, so and so, with death, which spitting on the face: I much doubt if these punishments in particular, and in their positive determination to the people of the Jews, be moral and perpetual: As he that would marry a captive woman of another Religion, is to cause her first pare her nails, and wash herself, and give her a month, or less time to lament the death of her Parents, which was a Judicial, not a Ceremonial Law; that this should be perpetual, because Christ in particular hath not abolished it, to me seems most unjust; for as Paul saith, He that is Circumcised becomes a debtor to the whole Law, sure to all the Ceremonies of Moses his Law: So I argue, à pari, from the like, He that will keep one judicial Law, because judicial and given by Moses, becometh debtor to keep the whole judicial Law, under pain of God’s eternal wrath.

Samuel Rutherford, The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication (1646), pp. 493-494


6 thoughts on “The Judicial Law, as Judicial, has been Abolished | Samuel Rutherford

  1. Does this mean that the only law that is not abolished is the Moral Law? If not, why? I understand that this text says that, but I’m probably wrong. If so, can you explain me why?


      1. If the judicial law is expired, what does it mean when someone says “theonomy”? Isn’t it that the moral and judicial are still valid now? Or only the moral law?

        And what about the people that affirms that the moral law is valid now, but doesn’t identify as theonomist?

        Sorry that I asked this questions here, but I thought you (Paul and Seni) were theonomist, and that theonomy means that the moral and judicial law are still valid now.


  2. We are not theonomists. We do believe that the moral law is to be enforced by modern civil governments in ways that are appropriate for their contexts. Theonomy teaches that the judicial law (the moral law applied in the civil context of Israel) remains binding and is to be the rule of modern civil governments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So the differences between you and theonomist is that they apply the moral law in the civil context of Israel, and you apply the moral law in the civil context of governments now?

      And what do you think of the death penalty? Is that an application of the moral law (like a 6CV or 7CV) in today’s context?

      Thanks again for being polite and patient with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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