There was a citizen of Gaunt who had never been outside the city walls. For some reason or other the magistrate passed an order that he should not go outside. Strange to tell, up to the moment that the command had passed, the man had been perfectly easy, and never thought of passing the line, but as soon as ever he was forbidden to do it, he pined, and sickened, and even died moaning over the restriction.
If a man sees a thing to be law, he wants to break that law. Our nature is so evil, that forbid us to do a thing, and at once we want to do the thing that is forbidden, and in many minds the principle of law instead of leading to purity has even offered opportunities for greater impurity. Although you may point out the way of uprightness to a man, and tell him what is right and what is wrong, with all the wisdom and force of counsel and caution, unless you can give him a heart to choose the right, and a heart to love the true, you have not done much for him.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Gospel Extracts (Passmore and Alabaster, 1899).
Man is so shrouded in the darkness of errors that he hardly begins to grasp through this natural law what worship is acceptable to God.
Surely he is very far removed from a true estimate of it. Besides this, he is so puffed up with haughtiness and ambition, and so blinded by self-love, that he is as yet unable to look upon himself and, as it were, to descend within himself, that he may humble and abase himself and confess his own miserable condition.
Accordingly (because it is necessary both for our dullness and for our arrogance), the Lord has provided us with a written law to give us a clearer witness of what was too obscure in the natural law, shake off our listlessness, and strike more vigorously our mind and memory.
The law maketh no man to love the law, or less to do or commit sin; but gendereth more lust, and increaseth sin. For I cannot but hate the law, inasmuch as I find no power to do it; and it nevertheless condemneth me, because I do it not. The law setteth not at one with God, but causeth wrath.
“The law was given by Moses, but grace and verity by Jesus Christ.” Behold, though Moses gave the law, yet he gave no man grace to do it, or to understand it aright; or wrote it in any man’s heart, to consent that it was good, and to wish after power to fulfil it. But Christ giveth grace to do it, and to understand it aright; and writeth it with his holy Spirit in the tables of the hearts of men; and maketh it a true thing there, and no hypocrisy. …
It is one thing to condemn, and pronounce the sentence of death, and to sting the conscience with fear of everlasting pain: and it is another thing to justify from sin; that is to say, to forgive and remit sin, and to heal the conscience, and certify a man, not only that he is delivered from eternal death, but also that he is made a son of God and heir of everlasting life. The first is the office of the law: the second pertaineth unto Christ only, through faith.