alien righteousness

Ceremonial-Civil-Moral Distinctions in the Mosaic Covenant

Taken from Brenton C. Ferry’s chapter “Works in the Mosaic Covenant: A Reformed Taxonomy” in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant edited by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David Vandrunen.

“Ceremonial-Civil-Moral Distinctions

The Mosaic covenant is also described as having three aspects: the ceremonial, civil, and moral.  The ceremonial portions govern old covenant worship, the civil portions apply to the old covenant national government, and the moral law pertains to absolute principles of morality summarized in the Ten Commandments.  The abrogation of the civil and ceremonial aspects of the old covenant law accounts for the discontinuity between the old and new covenants, while the continuation of the moral law account for their continuity.  Samuel Bolton, for example, describes the ceremonial law as “an appendix to the first table of the moral law,” and the judicial law as “an appendix to the second table,” (footnote: Bolton, True Bonds, 71-72.  See also Arrowsmith, Theanthropos, 289.) by which he means they are part of the discontinuous, accidental make-up of the old covenant from which the New Testament saints are freed.  The ceremonial part of the Old Testament, Dickson explains, was “super-added” as an “external yoke…which neither they nor their posterity were able to bear.” (Dickson, Therapuetica Sacra, 85.  See also Ball, The Covenant of Grace, 140-41. Especially see Francis Roberts, The Mystery and Marrow of the Bible (London, 1657), 661-77; Articles (19.3-4), 15-16.)” (82-83)

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