“If Her Husband Be Dead”
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
If a man by the Holy Spirit, and regenerating grace and favour of God, be under grace, and so under the law of faith, he is not, nor can he be under the law of works at the same time; even so the natural man being under the law of works, cannot be under grace and the law of faith at the same time.
And a man’s duties and obligations, both in the nature and extent of them, are prescribed and determined by the law that he is under. The truth of this, I consider the apostle most clearly sets forth, by comparing the law that the soul is under to a husband, and the soul to be bound to the law exclusively under which it is; and so much so, that the soul must be dead to the one law, before it can be under the other, either in a way of obligation or of privilege, (see Romans 7) so that every natural man is under the law of works, and is bound thereby exclusively to it, as a woman is bound by the law of her husband to him exclusively, so long as he lives.
And while we receive this apostolic argument in the force of infallible truth, it must fairly amount to this, that it can no more be the natural man’s duty under the law of works, by the law of faith to believe unto salvation, than it is a woman’s duty to think of, yield her person and affections to, and secure to herself, a second husband before her first be dead; she having no liberty whatever from her first obligations, nor another husband any demand whatever, till she be freed from her first husband; and then by marriage only to another, does she come under the new obligations to a second husband.
But no natural man is dead to the law of works by the body of Christ, and consequently is not married to Christ: and so neither Christian duties nor privileges are his province or his property; but to keep the whole law of works, and be as naturally pure as Adam was at the first, or death eternal is all that belongs to him as a sinful natural man.
By John Foreman