Galatians 3:24
So the Law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
After that Faith is Come, Christian Freedom and SonshipDoune.Galatians 3:24
Christ Our SchoolmasterJ. Parker, D. D.Galatians 3:24
Christ Supersedes the LawLuther.Galatians 3:24
Life a SchoolE. S. Ffoulkes, B. D.Galatians 3:24
Love in the Schooling of the LawDean Alford.Galatians 3:24
Pedagogic Character of the LawC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 3:24
Relation of the Law to the GospelMarvin R. Vincent, D. D.Galatians 3:24
Rule Yields to PrincipleMarvin R. Vincent, D. D.Galatians 3:24
The Church to be Governed by Principle, not Rigid LawCanon Liddon.Galatians 3:24
The Gentleness of Christ's DominionW. Burkitt.Galatians 3:24
The Law a Guide to ChristS. H. Tyng, D. D.Galatians 3:24
The Law a SchoolmasterC. R. Lloyd Engstrom, M. A.Galatians 3:24
The Law a SchoolmasterF. W. P. Greenwood, D. D.Galatians 3:24
The Law and the GospelLockhart.Galatians 3:24
The Law is a SchoolmasterF. W. Robertson, M. A.Galatians 3:24
The Law Leading Men to ChristCanon Liddon.Galatians 3:24
The Law Our SchoolmasterS. H. Tyng.Galatians 3:24
The Law was Our SchoolmasterT. Binney, D. D., F. W. Robertson, M. A.Galatians 3:24
The PedagogueCanon Liddon.Galatians 3:24
The Schooling of the LawJ. B. Owen, M. A.Galatians 3:24
The Stern PedagogueC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 3:24
The Superiority of Christianity to JudaismJohn Donne, D. D.Galatians 3:24
The Use of the LawGalatians 3:24
Before and After FaithR. Finlayson Galatians 3:23-29
The Law-School and the Home-ComingR.M. Edgar Galatians 3:23-29
The TutorW.F. Adeney Galatians 3:24, 25

The image of the Law as a tutor would apply directly to the condition of the Jews, to whom the Levitical system was given in their religious childhood in order to prepare them for the privileges of sonship which Christ was to confer. But what was true of them is more or less true of all of us. For the religious history of Israel is just an emphasized epitome of the religious history of the race. Through longer ages, by more obscure methods, in spite of more grievous lapses, God is educating mankind as he educated the Jews. Though in their case the process was hastened by the tropical heat of prophetic inspiration, and the results are portrayed in the clear light of a Scripture revelation, the method is still essentially the same. Law comes first and serves as the tutor till the gospel of Christ brings the liberty of manhood. Individually we pass through a similar education. The function of Law is here described. Law is a tutor.

I. THE TUTOR RESTRAINS AND CONTROLS HIS PUPIL, The tutor or poedagogos was not so much the teacher as the person to whom was entrusted the charge of the whole moral direction of the child. He had an almost absolute authority, such as English lads with the greater freedom allowed among us would resent as a galling yoke. A similar function pertained to the Jewish Law, and pertains to all law in so far as it comes into practical relations with our religious life. In particular note three characteristics common to the control of the tutor over his charge and the dominion of a religion of Law.

1. Rigid orders. The tutor would leave little to the discretion of his pupil, nor would he be likely to explain the reason for his mandates. So Law requires definite actions and affords little scope for the intelligent consideration of general principles and none for freedom of action upon them.

2. Compulsion. The tutor commands. He does not spare the rod. Law depends on threats and fear of punishment, or on hopes of reward, or at best on a stern sense of necessary obligation, and not on love and willing acquiescence.

3. Restraints. Probably the old tutor would check and repress rather than guide, encourage, and develop the natural disposition of his pupil Law says, "Thou shalt not," with more emphasis than "Thou shalt."

II. THE TUTOR IS SUITED TO THE PERIOD OF CHILDHOOD. Much that entered into the stern old system of discipline was as unfitted to youth as to manhood, and we are beginning to see the advantages of a freer kind of education. Nevertheless, certain restraints are essential to the condition of childhood, and the relaxing of them must be most disastrous. The duty of implicit obedience must be learnt before it is possible to understand the principles of abstract morality. Conscience must be educated by Law. In the infancy of the race the pure spirituality of Christianity could not be perceived, and a lower, narrower religion was all that came within the grasp of men. There is a law enclosed within the gospel, and those who are spiritually too backward to say, "The love of Christ constraineth me," are reminded that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."

III. THE TUTOR PREPARES FOR THE TIME or MANHOOD. If he does his work welt he does not convert his pupil into a slave. By teaching the habit of obedience he prepares for a willing acquiescence in a higher will; by inculcating a certain course of action he lays the foundation for a character in harmony with it. This preparatory influence in education admits of wide application; e.g. the boy must first master the rules of arithmetic in order that he may subsequently comprehend the principles of mathematics, must take grammar as an introduction to philology, etc. Thus St. Paul gives no excuse for the Marcionite heresy, which rejects the Old Testament religion as a had thing. He not only allows it to be good in its way, but the only thing possible in its time and a direct preparation for the later and freer religion. There is a continuity in history, there is a continuity in God's providential control of history, and there is a continuity in the growing stream of grace that flows through history. Christianity stands on the foundation of Judaism. The Old Testament is useful in preparing us for Christ. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that part of this efficacy is negative. The very failure of the Law and its increasing irksomeness prepare for Christ by making us feel the need and enjoy the liberty of his grace.

IV. THE TUTOR IS DISMISSED WHEN THE TIME OF MANHOOD ARRIVES. The tutor who was useful to the child will be a hindrance to the grown man. The submission which was dutiful in childhood becomes servile in manhood. The yoke of the Law is not the less a nuisance to the Christian because it was a necessity for the Jew. There is great skill in the apostle's argument, for, while showing that he was no enemy to the Law but appreciated its utility, he pointed out that that very utility involved its being superseded. Its purpose was important, but preparatory, to prepare for the gospel. The blossom must fall that the fruit may develop. - W.F.A.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster.
I. THE CONDITION OF HUMANITY AND THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF GOD RESPECTING IT. The Jews a type of mankind. Humanity is the Son of God, legally disinherited by apostasy, and gross and sensual. The heart of the Father is set upon its restoration, by pure favour, by means of faith. The Divine purpose was spiritual, and man must be conducted to it gradually. So God put man to school that, by a course of preparatory discipline, he might have his senses exercised.

II. THE HEIR AS LONG AS HE WAS A CHILD WAS AT SCHOOL. The methods adopted were such as befitted his condition and age. The young mind is first made familiar with visible symbols, which for a time it mistakes for substance, but eventually learns the inner meaning. These methods were —

1. Prophetic intimations which must be put together like a dissected map.

2. A large picture-book was put before the scholars in the Levitical institute.

3. In addition to this pupils were required to do something, which constituted another process of emblematical teaching; ceremonies for purification, e.g.

III. THESE LESSONS OF THE SCHOOLMASTER BECAME A PREPARATION FOR THE GOSPEL. Christ was the end or scope of the law. The process of learning, however, was similar to what occurs in ordinary teaching. The mind of the scholar opens very gradually to that of the teacher.

1. The map which the young pupil had to study, the earthly land secured to Abraham, and his seed, is found to expand into a higher region, and to associate itself with another race (Romans 4:13; Hebrews 11:8, 13-16).

2. The pieces of prophecy are put together, and compose the majestic figure of the Messiah.

3. With new views of the centre figure the whole of the Levitical system assumes its Divine significance.

(1)Its sacrifices become symbols of the better sacrifice.

(2)Its purification of the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

(3)Its feasts superseded by the spiritual privileges symbolized.

(4)With all this comes a new and ennobling sentiment of obedience. The law is not now heard in thunder and as a terrible "shalt not," but a privilege and a joy.

(T. Binney, D. D.)There was a time of the world's minority, and a time when it came of age. These times were marked —

1. By two stages — bondage and liberty.

2. By two principles of action — law and faith. Moses was the world's schoolmaster, Christ became the world's higher teacher. This state of things obtains in natural life, and in the single heart's life. Observe —

I. THE USES OF RESTRAINT IN THE HEART'S EDUCATION. The law to the Jews was a system of checks.

1. To restrain from violence. The law is a schoolmaster to rule those who cannot rule themselves. In this stage it would be madness to relax from restraint.

2. To show the inward force of evil. Evil is unsuspected until opposed.

3. To form habits of obedience. Would you have your child happy, decided, manly? Teach him to obey.

4. To nourish the temper of faith. The use of all education is to form faith. The child does not know the reason of his teacher's command; he has to trust.


1. When self-command is obtained. To be brought to Christ is to have learned to deny self.

2. When the state of justification by faith has been attained. Justification is acceptance with God, not because a man is perfect, but because he does all in a large and generous spirit. In such a state a man acts on principle, and gets beyond enactments. Apply to parents and teachers. How is it that children of religious parents turn out ill?

1. Because there has been no restraint during the time of discipline.

2. Because restraint has been applied when there should have been an appeal to principle and faith.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. AS GIVING PRECEPTS IN WHICH PRINCIPLES ARE INVOLVED BUT NOT EXPRESSLY TAUGHT. Every wise teacher begins so, and the first duty of the pupil is a blind obedience. At length when the pupil discovers the principle he may dispense with the rule or not, as he pleases.

II. AS PRESCRIBING INADEQUATE DUTIES — a part instead of the whole, which was to develop into the whole.

1. The institution of temple worship, by means of which the Jews were to be led into the truth that God is here, and therefore to be worshipped. But God is everywhere, and His true temples infinite space and the soul of man.

2. The institution of the Sabbath. But just as a right of way is often secured to the proprietor by shutting up a road one day in the year, not to declare it his only on that day, or more on that day than others, but simply to vindicate his right in it for every day; so did God shut up one-seventh part of time, that it might be understood that all belonged to Him.

3. The third commandment, which is not simply a prohibition of blasphemy, but was equivalent to "thou shalt not forswear thyself, but perform thy oaths."Learn:

1. That revelation is education. What education is for the individual, revelation is for the race.

2. That revelation is progressive.

3. That the training of character in God's revelation has always preceded illumination of the intellect.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. THE OFFICE OF THE LAW. Our guardian, ruler, tutor, governor.

1. To teach us our obligations.

2. To show us our sinfulness.

3. To sweep away our excuses.

4. To chasten our delinquencies.

5. To watch us everywhere


1. Not to conduct any man to despair, except of himself and it.

2. Not to urge us to make an amalgam of works and faith.

3. But to make us accept salvation as a free gift of God.

III. THE TERMINATION OF THIS OFFICE. When we come to believe in Jesus, the pedagogue troubles us no more. We become, then, of age. The office of the law ends.

1. When we ascertain that Christ has fulfilled it.

2. When it comes to be written on the heart. The man can be trusted, the boy must be watched.

3. When we take up our heirship in Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. The METHOD of this guiding power is exercised —

1. By completely shutting us out from every other hope.

2. By showing us the character and qualifications which we must find in the Saviour on whom we can entirely rely.

(1)He must be one competent to fulfil all the provisions of the holy law.

(2)But no creaturely being has ever accomplished this.

(3)The Saviour, therefore, must be Divine as well as human.

(4)These conditions meet in Christ.

3. By revealing the way in which we must be partakers of the Saviour's mercy, and be interested in His redemption.

(1)It must be all of grace;

(2)by faith;

(3)issuing in justification.

4. By proclaiming its entire satisfaction with the provided Saviour.

(1)All its demands are honoured;

(2)its penalties borne;

(3)its acquital secured.

II. The OBJECT for which this guiding power is exercised.

1. Justification before God is the great want of the rebel under the condemnation of the law. He must gain this blessing or perish.

2. This cannot be obtained by the works of the law, which involve the discharge of its obligations and the endurance of its penalty.

3. It must, and therefore is, to be obtained by faith in Christ.

4. This faith working by love manifests itself in righteousness.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

The pedagogue was a slave who had charge of his owner's children, And who led them to the porch of the one who was really to give them lessons. But his office was not merely to keep the children in the right path and out of danger; he was a sort of private tutor, who prepared them for the instruction they were to receive from the philosopher or the professor. These higher lessons were quite beyond the power of the tutor himself; but he could do something to remove the difficulties which prevented young people from understanding, but above all he could undertake that they should be punctually in their place when the professor began his work.

(Canon Liddon.)

You send your little child in the care of some one to school. The ward takes the little creature, and says, "Come, I will take you to school," and away they go to the place of instruction. Now the law was our care-taker, our companion, to take us to our schoolmaster Christ; Christ keeps a school, Christ calls those who go to His school His disciples, His scholars; Christ says, "Learn of Me."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Men are brought into this world, just as children are taken to school, to learn their lessons. We are born into this world to be schooled for heaven. There are vacancies in heaven for a certain number of us, and all who pass a good examination when the time comes will have their cards of admission given them into the place marked which they are to take. This life the public school that prepares for the university which we call heaven; and the Bible the code by which our lives will be tested when we present ourselves as candidates for admission: this is all, literally, that our present existence was contrived for, or the Bible given.

(E. S. Ffoulkes, B. D.)

A written law of God being given to man, what is its further office? The fulfulling of that law is in one word, love; for God is its Author, and God is love. Can the will of man, by itself and unaided, fulfil that law? And hero observe two things. First, this is not a question of much or little — can man's will half fulfil the law, or nearly fulfil it, or quite fulfil it? — but it is an absolute question, which must be answered, yea or nay, from the very nature of man's will and of the law. It is not, "Can man's will fulfil this or that part of it?" but "Can it ever fulfil it at all, any single command of it?" What is man's will? A will diverted, in the fall, from its central object; a selfish will; a will which recognizes not, follows not, the law of love as its guide; and in this wandering away from love and from God, leads with it man's whole nature. Now you see our question is this, "Can such a will again renew itself into love?" Manifestly not. It is powerless to give itself a new direction. What we want, then, is not a law to obey, but a Redeemer to set us free. Next, we may remark, that this question of the ability of man by his own will to keep God's law, must not be confused, by being mixed up with the entirely distinct question of the relation of God's absolute foreknowledge and foreordination to the free will of man. That relation did not begin with the fall of man at all; it would have subsisted just as much if he had never fallen: it subsists with regard to the holy angels in heaven, who have never sinned; it is an universal law of all created being. The incapacity of man's will of which we here speak, is not in consequence of any fettering of it by God's sovereign decrees, but in consequence of its own act and deed, by which it left God and the law of love in our first parent, and became subject to those lower desires and faculties which it was created to rule and guide. Now let me not be mistaken as to my present position. In saying that the will of fallen man is incapable of fulfilling God's law, let me be thoroughly understood. I am drawing no wild, exaggerated picture of depravity, but wish to keep to the strict letter of fact, and to build on it important consequences. There is much that the human will can do. It can choose between the outward objects which are presented to us in life — the objects of thought, of speech, of action. Nay, more; over all mere outward obedience to God's law the will has power. But the will has not power over the desires and affections; in other words, over the superior faculties, of which it is a servant. It can produce good deeds to a certain extent, but it cannot produce good tendencies. And so by the law it has been proved, that redemption is necessary for man. And more; it has been brought about that man should be receptive of redemption, prepared to welcome it, eager to avail himself of it. His very demonstrated helplessness has shown that he must be helped from above. The law was God's great instrument to prepare man for redemption by Christ. He used it in this way on a large scale in the history of the world. The Jewish people, who were placed under it, were by it not rendered a people acceptable to God, but proved incapable of pleasing Him. Its lower requirements became to them a substitute for its first and great commandment; and no restoration to the law of love was effected by it in them. In the course of history its threatenings were executed on them, its promises, and more than its promises, fulfilled to them as a people; and when the Redeemer came, they were for the most part a nation of hardened hypocrites. All its power was power to convict and find guilty — not power to save even by that conviction: — for man's depraved conscience might quench and annul the conviction. And He has ever made the same use of His law in the hearts of individuals. And now I would ask you to mark the wonderful course and progress of Divine love towards us. In mankind at large, as in individual men, there must be produced this knowledge and feeling of their own unworthiness and incapacity to save themselves; not indeed so as to make them universally cry out for the gospel, but so as to make them, when the gospel has come, on looking over the page of history, confess that God has manifested beyond a doubt the sinfulness of man. For the first many ages after the fall, the unwritten law took its course. The conscience became darkened — the earth full of violence — till the vengeance of God was drawn down upon it in the Flood. Again, the true knowledge and fear of him, in the family of Noah, was assumed as a starting-point for the new world; again, even from this more definite covenant did the nations of the world go astray as widely as ever. Out of them God selected Abraham, and entered into special covenant with him and his seed. And while in them was proved the powerlessness of His revealed law to renew or to save, among the Gentile nations a lesson not less remarkable was being taught to mankind. Of them God suffered some to advance to the very highest pitch of art, and science, and acuteness of the human intellect. Their philosophy has set the pattern for the world; their oratory, their poetry, have been since unrivalled. And that nothing might be wanting to the full trial of man, another people found its employment and pride in civil arts; in taming the nations, in sparing and consolidating by exquisite polity the states subjected to its sway; in laying the foundation of public right and justice for the latest age of mankind. And thus both by these, and in other parts of the inhabited world by other nations, the powers of man for good were fully and maturely tried. Every facility was given him which belonged to his fallen state. And the result of all was this: that neither by wisdom, nor by imagination, nor by individual or social power for good, nor by the revelation of God's will in the law, could man put himself back again into the path of love which he had left. O you who read ancient history, whether sacred or profane, read it to trace it in this design of God, to prepare the world for Christ; for this is the master-key to its secrets.

(Dean Alford.)

A minister says, When I was a boy I ploughed a field with a team of spirited horses. I ploughed it very quickly, Once in a while I passed over some of the sod without turning it, but I did not jerk back the plough with its rattling devices. I thought it made no difference. After awhile, my father came along, and said: "Why, this will never do; this isn't ploughed deep enough; there, you have missed this and you have missed that." And he ploughed it over again. The difficulty with a great many people is that they are only scratched with conviction when the subsoil plough of God's truth ought to be put in up to the beam.

You never saw a woman sewing without a needle. She would come but poor speed if she only sewed wi' the thread. So, I think, when we're dealing with sinners, we maun aye put in the needle of the law first; for the fact is, they are sleepin' sound, and they need to be awakened up wi' something sharp. But, when we've got the needle o' the law fairly in, we may draw as long a thread as you like o' gospel consolation after it.


"The method devised by Dr. Arnold at Rugby School, was to eventually raise the moral tone of the whole school by first raising the tone of a certain part. Is it irreverent to call the Israelites the "Sixth Form" of the school of the human race, an elect nation for the sake of the non-elect, chosen neither for their own merits, nor principally for their own blessing (though their privileges were inestimable), but to hasten the coming of Christ, and thus in the end to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers?"

(C. R. Lloyd Engstrom, M. A.)

"The law!" It is one of a group of words round which the thought of St. Paul constantly moves; and he uses it in more senses than one. Here he means by it generally the five Books of Moses to which the Jews commonly gave the name; and more particularly he means those parts of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in which are contained the various rules which God gave to Moses for the moral, social, political, and religious, or ceremonial conduct of the people of Israel. This was the law in which, as St. Paul said, the Jew of his day made his boast; he was proud to belong to the race which had received it. This was the law, the possession of which made Israel a "peculiar people," marking it off by a deep-cut line of separation from all the other nations of the world. This was the law which it was the business of every Israelite to obey. Now St. Paul says bluntly, that the main purpose of this law was not present, but prospective; it was not to be so much prized on its own account, as for the sake of that to which it was to lead. It was really like those slaves who were kept in well-to-do households in the ancient world, first to teach the children of their masters roughly, or as well as they could, and then to lead them down day by day to the school of some neighbouring philosopher, at whose hands they would receive real instruction. This, then, was the business of the law; it did the little it could do for the Jewish people as an elementary instructor, and then it had to take them by the hand and lead them to the school of Jesus Christ. This it did:

I. BY FORESHADOWING HIM. This was especially true of its ceremonies. All the Jewish ritual, in its minutest details, was a shadow of good things to come. Each ceremony was felt to have some meaning beyond the time then present, and so it fostered an expectant habit of mind; and as the ages passed, these expectations converged more and more towards a coming Messiah; and so, in a subordinate but real way, the ceremonial law did its part in leading the nation to the school of Christ.

II. BY CREATING IN MAN'S CONSCIENCE A SENSE OF WANT, WHICH CHRIST ALONE COULD RELIEVE. This was the work of the moral law. Exact obedience to strict precepts was commanded; but who could render it? So the law, universally disobeyed, became like a torch carried into the dark cellars and crevices of human nature that it might reveal the foul shapes lurking there, and might rouse man to long for a righteousness which it could not confer. And this could only be found in Christ.

III. BY PUTTING THEM UNDER A DISCIPLINE WHICH TRAINED THEM FOR CHRIST. God begins with rule, and ends with principle; begins with law, and ends with faith; begins with Moses and ends with Christ. In the earlier revelation God only said "Do this," "do not do that." In the later or Christian revelation He has done much more; He has said, "Join yourselves by an act of adhesion of your whole moral nature to the perfect moral Being" — in other words, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," This is justification by faith. So far from being moral anarchy, it is the absorption of rule into the higher realm of principle. In the experience of the soul, faith corresponds to the empire of principle in the growth of individual character and in the development of national life; while the law answers to that elementary stage in which outward rules are not yet absorbed into principle.

(Canon Liddon.)

There were three systems of law delivered to the Jews, each leading, like a highway of the Lord, to Christ.

I. THE JUDICIAL LAW. This involved their civil policy as a state or nation, governed their conduct as between man and man, and determined their offences and penalties as citizens and subjects.

II. THE CEREMONIAL LAW, determining their ecclesiastical polity.

III. THE MORAL LAW. Resolved by Christ into two commandments, and by St. Paul into one word — love. This law brings us to Christ

(1)By convicting of sin;

(2)by revealing our peril;

(3)by its weakness through the flesh to save from death.

(J. B. Owen, M. A.)

A schoolmaster nowadays is not at all like the personage Paul intended. He speaks of a pedagogue, an official seldom if ever now seen among men. This was not a person who actually officiated as master in the school, and gave instruction in the school itself; but one — a slave generally — who was set to take the boys to school, and to watch over them, and to be a sort of general supervisor of them, both in school and Out of school, and at all times. A pedagogue was very generally employed in the training of the young; indeed, it was a common and customary thing for the sons of the Greek and Roman nobility to have appointed over them some trustworthy servant who took them in charge. The boys were entirely under these servants; and thus had their spirits broken in, and their vivacity restrained. As a rule these pedagogues were very stern and strict — they used the rod freely, not to say cruelly, and the condition of the boys was sometimes no better than slavery. The boys (as it was supposed to be for their good) were kept in perpetual fear. Their recreations were restricted; even their walks were under the surveillance of the grim pedagogue. They were sternly held in check in all points, and were thus disciplined for the battle of life. Now Paul, taking up this thought, says the law was our pedagogue, our guardian, our custodian, ruler, tutor, governor, until Christ came.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A Christian Church, from the necessity of the case, 'is based on faith — that is, on principle; it represents by its existence the definitive triumph of believing principle over mere outward Jewish rule; it does not discard rule, far from it, but it provides for the good that is to be achieved by rule, by insisting always on the higher influence of principle; and thus the true direction of the Church's life would seem to be adherence to principle, combined with freedom as to all that touches mere outward rule. In modern language, Holy Scripture, the three great Creeds which guard it, the essential conditions of the means of grace — that is, the governing and informing principles of the Church's life, — should all of them be defended to the very last extremity; but as to matters of mere ceremonial and the like, there should be as much freedom as is compatible with the very elementary requirements of order. Where the faith is held sincerely, the rules of outward observance should be largely left to take care of themselves; the margin of liberty within which devotional feeling at very different stages of its growth finds its congenial expression, should be as wide as possible.

(Canon Liddon.)

Moses and the law is a rigid and severe schoolmaster, who by whips and threats requires a hard lesson of his scholars, whether able to learn it or not; but Christ and the gospel is a mild and gentle teacher, who by sweet promises and good rewards, invite their scholars to duty, and guide and help them to do what of themselves they cannot do; by which means they love both their Master and their lessons, and rejoice when it is nearest to them to direct them in their studies.

(W. Burkitt.)

I. THE WHOLE LAW OF GOD IS ONE. God's law is the declaration of His will; and God's perfect will never changes, and, therefore, God's law is like Himself — the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. It is essentially impossible that one part of God's law should ever contradict any other part; from beginning to end it is one. But this law may develop itself by successive stages, and manifest itself in different ways in these different stages. Under ground, among the rocks, among the subterranean springs, the tree develops in the form of roots. Above ground, we find the tree developing in the form of trunk. We go higher, and our tree is branches, and then leaves, and blossoms, and fruit. The tree is one. Fruit and root are the extremes of one perfect organism; yet what a difference between them. So God's law is one, whether we see it in its lower or higher stage.

II. WE ARE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE SUBSTANCE AND THE FORM OF THE LAW. The Divine thought is the essential thing; not the mere formal precept or symbol by which it was conveyed. So, while the former must ever be retained, the latter may drop off; just as the tree drops off in the branches the mould which clings about the roots, and drops off in the blossom and fruit the bark of the trunk and branches, while root and trunk and branch and blossom yet continue to be one tree.

(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)

Here is a boy who begins to study mathematics. The teacher gives him specific rules. "Do thus, and you will add numbers. Do so, and you will subtract or multiply." It is not a matter of principles or laws at all. The boy has, and can have, no conception of the great fundamental laws of numbers and of their relations. He takes his arithmetic and studies the rule for decimals or long division, and does his sums by the process laid down in the rule. But one day, the boy comes to the teacher with his sum worked out by a process not laid down in his arithmetic. He has thought it out by a process of his own. The rules he has been practising have led him unconsciously up to certain great mathematical principles which are not confined in their working out to the one little rule of the arithmetic, but are capable of a variety of expressions. Is the teacher angry because the sum was not done by the rule? Is he not rather delighted? He sees, in the lad's overstepping the rule, the very result at which he has been aiming. All the rules were directed to bring about this grasp of principles which he has obtained. Henceforth he will not be bound by the rules, but will he therefore violate the great laws of mathematics? Will "he not be as much under law as ever, yea, under the same law, when he measures the orbits of planets or weighs suns, as when he repeated the multiplication table, or cast up the little columns in simple addition? So it is in moral development. You want to teach a child the great principle of order. You begin with specific rules. "You must put your books in such a place, and your hat in such a place. You must study such and such hours. You may amuse yourself at such times." The time finally comes when all thess rules drop off of themselves. They are no longer needed. He has got hold of the great truth of order, and its obligation has its grip upon him, and that was all that the rules were intended for. That being reached, he may be orderly and systematic in his own way. The great point is that, however his way may differ from that prescribed by his old rules, he is still under law, and under the same law — the law of order. So then, when God's law, the pedagogue, the law of commandments, precepts, prohibitions, hands a man over to Christ, it introduces him to a life which is just as much under the power of law and of the same law as ever. Law is not abolished, but whereas formerly the law was applied to the man from without, it now begins to work from within the man. In other words, he lives by the law of God written upon his conscience and wrought into his life. He is a law unto himself. He is no longer a moral schoolboy, but a man in Christ Jesus. The law of precepts has been silently preparing the man to be kindled and quickened into life by contact with Christ's life. You know how, at the sacred season in Rome, the workmen are engaged for clays in arranging the lines of lamps over the dome and portico of St. Peter's; and when at last the hour strikes, on a sudden the whole gigantic structure bursts into flame. Just so law draws the line of obedience and duty; but these, however symmetrical and sharp, are dead and cold until they feel Christ's touch; then the life kindles and glows. The lines of law are all irradiated.

(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)

If the law is done away, we are never henceforth under its tyranny, but are under Christ, and live in all security and joy, through Him who now reigns in us mildly and graciously by His spirit. Therefore, if we could rightly apprehend Christ, the dear Saviour, this severe and wrathful schoolmaster would not dare to touch a hair of our heads. From this it follows that believers, as concerns the conscience, are by all means free from the law; on this account the schoolmaster should not rule therein, i.e., he should not affright, threaten, or take the conscience captive, and though he should undertake it, the conscience should not care for it, but should behold Christ on the cross, who through His death had freed us from the law and all its terrors. Nevertheless there is sin still remaining in the saints, whereby their conscience is accused and plagued. Yet Christ helps it up again through His daily, yea, continual drawing near.


The law taught, as a schoolmaster teaches, the elements of true religion and right morals. It therefore prepared men for Christianity, or was the introduction to Christianity, which supposes and embraces those elements, though it carries them forward into further and higher developments, and surrounds them with more mature and heavenly sanctions than were before revealed; just as the schoolmaster prepares a pupil by the studies of the school-room, for the studies and pursuits of life, and furnishes the knowledge which is absolutely necessary for the attainment of the superior knowledge of future years, and which can never be entirely dispensed with. The pupil is not required to remain in the school-room, amenable to all the minor regulations of the school-room, and indeed would not be justified in doing so, when the time has come for his entrance upon the advanced discipline and broader duties and prospects of maturity and the world; and yet he must never slight or forget the real knowledge and true habits which have been instilled and formed within those humbler precincts, for these are always available and useful, and are indeed indispensable to his progress. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ." It could not have brought us unto Christ, unless it had taught us much that is intrinsically and permanently true and good, and of Divine authority. Such aa introduction could have been made by no unworthy or unauthorized hand. "Holiness unto the Lord" must have been engraved upon the forehead of that instructor, who performed the high office of leading us into the presence of the Son of God. Let us see how this truth may be confirmed. Let us refer to what may be gathered of the mind of Jesus on this subject. First and chiefly, he always speaks of the God by whose commission Moses gave the law to the Israelites, aa his own God and Father, by whom he was sanctified and sent into the world. It is impossible for any man of common-sense and a clear and unprejudiced head, who shall read the Old Testament and then proceed to read the New, to entertain any other idea than that the Supreme Being and Almighty God of the one is the Supreme Being and Almighty God of the other, though more chiefly revealed and. brought nearer to us in the second than in the first. Jesus refers also to the patriarchs and prophets of the former dispensation not as strangers, or belonging to a hostile order or communion, but as His own predecessors and forerunners, who had seen His day and intimated His coming, and He often repeats and applies their sayings and predictions. The proposition is further confirmed by a view of those characters of the law which are evidently intrinsic and unchangeable. The primary truth of the Unity of God is declared in it with a distinctness and a grandeur which no words and no imagination can surpass. The "Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord," is a proclamation which sounds, as with trumpet voice, from one dispensation to the other, from the Tabernacle and the Temple to the Church, and from the Church into the depths of time. Those infinite attributes of God, which, when proposed to the mind, are in perfect conformity with the best exercises of our reason, and are yet so high that our highest reason cannot reach or measure them, are revealed in the law with all the clearness which human language can command, and with an original sublimity which is to be found nowhere else. As in the doctrinal, so in the ethical part of the law, there is a height and a purity which might fitly introduce the moral system of the gospel, and be blended and incorporated with it, because it is in unison with it, and speaks of a common origin. The ten commandments, which are the condensation of this part of the law, are unquestionably permanent and irreversible. Finally, two important inferences must be kept in mind.

1. That we should never take one part of the conclusion, when the apostle is pressing it upon our attention with all his innate zeal, without a reference to the other part, which, under different circumstances, he would have pressed as warmly, and which was never really absent from his mind. He must be interpreted by himself; what he says at one time compared with what he says at another.

2. We ourselves are bound to pay becoming reverence to that ancient law, whose office it was to introduce men to the knowledge and enjoyment of gospel privileges and blessings. There is little danger at present of our falling back under the yoke against which St. Paul warns his converts; but there is some danger of our erring on the opposite side, and treating the law, and the books which contain it, with an undeserved and unbecoming irreverence. Let us remember that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and that, as such, its instructions were necessary and are still to be revered. Having entered a higher institution, we do not go back to school; but having been well taught in those elements which prepared us for that institution, we will remember the teacher with respect and gratitude. While the Saviour of men appears before us in all his transfigured glory, though we shall give to His person our longest and intensest regards, we shall not shut our eyes to the venerable forms of Moses, and Elias, who appear with Him and talk with Him.

(F. W. P. Greenwood, D. D.)

I. To prove to ourselves that we have faith we must prove that we need not the law;

II. To prove that emancipation and liberty we must prove that we are the sons of God.

III. To prove that engrafting and adoption we must prove that we have put on Christ.

IV. To prove that apparelling our proof is that we are baptized into Him.


It was the happiness of the Jews to have had the law, but it is ours not to need it; they had the benefit of a guide to direct them, but we are at our journey's end; they had a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ, but we have proceeded so far as that we are in possession of Christ. The law of Moses binds us not at all as it is His law; whatsoever binds a Christian in that law would have bound Him though there had been no law given to Moses.

(John Donne, D. D.)

I. THE HOLY GHOST EMPLOYS THE LAW AS A SERVANT. Salvation never came by the law, never could have come by the law, never can come by the law, through any obedience that fallen man can render either felts letter or its spirit. The law is the map; it is not the country. The law is the model; it is not the substance. The law is the picture; it is not the person. The law prophesies, prefigures, presents the fulness of the salvation which is wrought by Jesus Christ as the ground of the believer's security and the warrant of his faith. But under the ministry of the Holy Ghost another illustration is introduced, and the apostle says the law is the schoolmaster, or, to Anglicise the Greek word, is the pedagogue, to bring us unto Christ. And the parts of the figure are easily comprehended. The Holy Ghost is the parent of the soul; the law is the tutor to whose instruction it is committed until the time of majority, when all the tutors and governors of minority disappear, and the privileges of heirship in Christ become the possession and the enjoyment of those who have passed from the tutor's care. Now, the Spirit of God presents to us the law of God under this simile. Go where the sinner will, before he has come to the full age of faith, the law of God is his shadow. Oh I that men would remember this. They do not in darkness escape God's ever present detection; they do not by double dealing evade the inspection of Him who has established the law for their discipline to bring them unto Christ. Wherever the man goes before he has learned the fulness of his salvation in Jesus, he must be looking about him for the presence of the schoolmaster. When the law of God takes hold of a man, and he realizes his obligation under its commandment and his subjection to its penalty, then, of course, pleasures cease for him, for the presence of the schoolmaster destroys every circumstance of peace and enjoyment. Does he go to a place of frivolous amusement? The law of God whispers to his conscience, "What if you should die here?" Does he go to his pillow and seek relief from remorse? He lays his head upon it without possible quietness, while the law of God recounts to him the condemnation he has justly deserved for every impurity of thought and defection in act. Does he go to church, and is the minister of God expounding the gospel of God's grace? Next to him in the pew sits the law of God, his inseparable companion, who tells him, in the midst of promises, "These are not for you." In the midst of all the descriptions of the pleasures of the saint, "You have no part in these." And when the dark cloud of Divine indignation which brings out in relief the grace of Jesus Christ rises before him, the awful menace of the law tells him, "The storm will burst upon you, the condemnation of God will catch you, hell is yawning to receive you." Oh! the horrors of this pedagogue-companion under whose discipline men are so ready to live. Now let us, having looked at their inseparable companionship, overtake them in their walk and listen to some of their conversation. The refrain of all that the law says is, "Do." "Do this and thou shalt live." And to this constant exhortation, which stirs up all the bitterness of the heart, there is a succession of apologies and pleas presented, which, for the time, will silence the voice of conscience, but which the law brushes away with ridicule as of offering chaff for wheat, brass for gold, currency for coin. "Do this and thou shalt live." "I want to do it." "It is not wanting to do; it is doing," saith the law. "I will try to obey." "That will not suffice. It is not trying; it is obeying." "I have obeyed a great many of the commandments. I am reputed to be obedient. I think I have almost reached it." "Almost is not enough, child; altogether thou must do it." Not a single defect must there be in either spirit or letter of prohibition or command. Oh, what a multitude of apologies does the pedagogue have to hear! "I am quite as good as those about me." "Thou hast nothing to do with another;" "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." "Yes, but I am ready to believe in Christ after I have done all I can." "Christ cannot help thee; as long as thou art under age thou must be under the law and thou must do all. When thou hast become of majority, then my office is at an end, and is passed away." "Well, I am praying for help to obey the commandment." "There will no help come to thee until thou dost come of age, child, and dost trust completely in Him who is the Saviour of the world." Thou canst never compound and commingle and amalgamate the law and the gospel. The illustration might be indefinitely continued to cover all the possible pretexts of sinners before the law of God. But the whole story is told in this one statement, that the law of God never smiles upon a sinner. This schoolmaster always frowns. There is no pity in the law; there is no mercy under its ministration. The one office of the pedagogue was to drag the boy down. The one office of God's law, as the spirit employs it, is to humble every proud thought, every high look, every personal ambition and determination, until the man is willing to be a beggar and be saved by the blood of the Crucified One.

II. THE ERRAND WHICH IS ENTRUSTED TO THIS PEDAGOGUE. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." The original reads, "The law is our schoolmaster unto Christ." When we reach Christ, then is the vocation of the schoolmaster at an end. It convinces men that they need Christ — that they need a free salvation. Christ has fulfilled the law. His obedience was perfect. Now we want to be justified by faith through His righteousness.

III. THE SIGN THAT THE LAW HAS DISCHARGED HIS COMMISSION. Our boys come of age at twenty-one years. Under the Greek code, the child came of age at thirteen and a half years. And I know some boys in our congregation that it would greatly delight if that were the rule in America. We have very few children nowadays. They are all men and women. Under the Roman law, majority was not attained until twenty-five years, but when the day was reached at which the child, by the custom of the land and the constitution of the Government, was pronounced a man, he could laugh at the school. master, and his office had passed away. Up to that hour he was imperious. Now he was impertinent. Up to that day his sharpness of examination was only the fulfilment of the duty he had assumed. After that day, to assume any such relation to the man, was to bring himself under the law which would condemn him utterly. So, saith the apostle, when faith is come, when the child has passed up toward full majority by trusting in Jesus Christ, then the schoolmaster has gone, the believer is freed from the law as a discipline. Oh I dear friend, this is the mountain top from which we view the land of promise. This is the place of privilege to which every child of God is permitted to attain. We are not under the law, says the apostle, we are under grace. But the sign that this majority has been reached is the transference of the soul from the discipline of precepts to that of principles, which the apostle calls the law written on the fleshly tables of the heart. We are not free from this law. It never passes away; but now we delight in the law of God. There is no fear now as we remember the old commandments.

(S. H. Tyng.)

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