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 The Principles of Theology - Article 7

by W.H.Griffith Thomas



Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

De Veteri Testamento
Testamentum vetus novo contrarium non est: quandoquidem tam in veteri, quam in novo, per Christum, qui unicus est mediator Dei et hominum, Deus et homo, æterna vita humano generi est proposita. Quare male sentiunt, qui veteres tantum in promissiones temporarias sperasse confingunt. Quanquam lex a Deo data per Mosen, quoad cæremonias et ritus, Christianos non astringat, neque civilia ejus præcepta in aliqua republica necessario recipi debeant, nihilominus tamen ab obedientia mandatorum, quæ Moralia vocantur, nullus quantumvis Christianus est solutus.


Important Equivalents

Who is the only Mediator = qui unicus est Mediator
Wherefore they are not to be heard = Quare male sentiunt [1]
For transitory promises = in promissiones temporarias
No Christian man whatsoever = nullus quantumvis Christianus [2]
Free from obedience = ab obedientia solutus

This is a corollary to and application of Article 6 in regard to the Old Testament and, as such, it constitutes part of the teaching of the Church on the Rule of Faith. In the Forty-two Articles of 1553 there were two Articles, the sixth and the nineteenth, each dealing with aspects of the Old Testament, and in 1563 they were brought together to form this Article because of their kindred topics. The first half of this Article (to the word “promises”) formed the sixth Article of 1553, with the title, Vetus Testamentum non est rejiciendum (“The Old Testament is not to be rejected”). But that Article began thus: Testamentum Vetus, quasi Novo contrarium sit, non est repudiandum, sed retinendum (“The Old Testament is not to be put away, as though it were contrary to the New; but to be kept still”). The second half of the present Article formed the nineteenth of 1553, with the title, Omnes obligantur ad moralia legis præcepta servanda (“All men are bound to keep the moral commandments of the law”). That Article began thus: Lex a Deo per Mosen, licet quo ad Cæremonias et Ritus. But only the first clause of it was incorporated in 1563 to make our seventh Article. The remainder of Article 19 of 1553 was as follows: Quare illi non sunt audiendi, qui sacras literas tantum infirmis datas esse perhibent, et Spiritum perpetuo jactant, a quo sibi quæ prædicant suggeri asserunt, quanquam cum sacris literis apertissime pugnent (“Wherefore they are not to be hearkened unto, who affirm that Holy Scripture is given only to the weak, and do boast themselves continually of the Spirit, of whom (they say) they have learned such things as they teach, although the same be most evidently repugnant to the Holy Scripture”). This was probably omitted because the difficulty had ceased by the time of Queen Elizabeth.

The Article is plainly directed against erroneous views rife at the time of the Reformation, and perhaps there are also echoes of similar errors in the early Church. We know the Gnostics held that the Old Testament is opposed to the New. Extreme Protestants in the sixteenth century insisted that the ceremonial law was binding, [3] while from another standpoint the Anabaptists taught that Christians were free from the law. [4] Then, again, there were those who held that internal illumination was sufficient without the written Word. [5] These are referred to in the sentence of Article 19 of 1553, omitted in 1563.


>> Part 1. The Essential Unity of The Old And New Testaments



[1] In the 42, “Non sunt audiendi,” and hence the English.

[2] Translated in Article 19 of the 42, “No man (be he never so perfect a Christian).”

[3] “De iis, qui vetus Testamentum aut totum rejiciunt, aut totum exigent. Deinde quomodo priscis temporibus Marcionitarum sordes, Valentinianorum et Manichæorum fluxerunt, et aliæ similes earum multæ fæces, a quibus vetus Testamentum ut absurdum malumque, et cum novo dissidens, repudiabatur, sic multi nostris temporibus inveniuntur, inter quos Anibaptistæ præcipue sunt collocandi, ad quos si quis vetus Testamentum alleget, illud pro abrogato jam et obsoleto penitus habent, omnia quæ in illo posita sunt ad prisca majorum nostrorum tempora referentes. Itaque nihil eorum ad nos statunt pervenire debere. Aliorum autem contrarius est, sed ejusdem impietatis error, qui usque adeo vetus ad Testamentum adhærescunt, ut ad circumcisionem et a Mose quondam institutas ceremonias necessario nos revocent” (Reformatio Legum, De Hæresibus, c. 4).

[4] “Here I note only one thing, which is the temerity, ignorance, and blasphemy of certain phantastical heads, which hold that the prophets do write only to the people of the Old Testament, and that their doctrine did pertain only to their time; and would seclude all the Fathers that lived under the law from the hope of eternal salvation. And here is also a note to be gathered against them which utterly reject the Old Testament, as a book nothing necessary to the Christians which live under the Gospel” (Alley’s Poore Man’s Librarie, 2, 97; quoted in Hardwick, On the Articles, p. 395).

[5] Hardwick, History of the Articles of Religion, p. 99 f., and Notes, p. 374.



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The Principles of Theology

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>> Griffith-Thomas biography


Article 7

>> Introduction

>> Unity of Old & New Testaments

>> Spirituality of the Old Testament

>> Temporary elements of the O.T.

>> Permanent elements of the O.T.

>> Problem of the O.T. Today

Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




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