Bunyan on Law, Gospel, and the Covenants

Some quotes from John Bunyan's book called The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded.

In 1659 John Bunyan wrote a book called The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded.  In this book Bunyan well explains the difference(s) between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, between the law and the gospel.  He explains how, in Adam, everyone by nature is in the covenant of works and he explains how the covenant of works shows up at Mt. Sinai.  Bunyan also talks about the gospel – how God saves sinners in the covenant of grace.

Bunyan said that in this book he hopes the reader will “find the two covenants [which all men are under, either the one or the other] discovered, and held forth in their natures, ends, bounds, together with the state and condition of them that are under the one, and of them that are under the other.”

I’ll come back to this excellent book later; for now, here are a few quotes that stuck out for me.

“So long as people are ignorant of the nature of the law, and of their being under it – that is, under the curse and condemning power of it, by reason of their sin against it – so long they will be careless, and negligent as to the inquiring after the true knowledge of the Gospel.”

“The man that doth not know the law doth not know in deed and in truth that he is a sinner, doth not know savingly that there is a Savior.”

“The word ‘law’ and the word ‘grace’ in this sixth [chapter] of Romans, do hold forth the two covenants which all men are under; that is, either the one or the other.”

“The substance of the law delivered on Mount Sinai was, before that, delivered by the Lord to man in the garden.”

“To be under the law as it is a Covenant of Works, is to be bound, upon pain of eternal damnation, to fulfill, and that completely and continually, every particular point of the Ten Commandments, by doing them.”

“They that are under the Covenant of Grace shall surely be saved by it, so, even so, they that are under the Covenant of Works and the law, they shall surely be damned by it, if continuing there.”

“If a man that hath deserved death by the law be…forgiven his offence, it is not because the law saith, ‘spare him;’ but it is the love of the judge…that doth set the man free from the condemnation of the law.”

“The law doth always find fault with the sinners obedience as well as his disobedience.”

“If thou be under this covenant [of works], work as hard as thou canst, the law will never say, ‘Well done,’ it will never say, ‘My good servant,’ no; but it will always be driving thee faster, hastening of thee harder, giving thee fresh commands, which thou must do upon pain of damnation not to be left undone.”

Again; I’ll come back to this book later.  For now, let me just say I highly recommend it:John Bunyan, The Doctrine of the Law and the Gospel Unfolded.

Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his bog and is used with permission.