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A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel (Colquhoun) - Hardcover

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Does upholding the law compromise the freeness and fullness of the gospel?

In this classic work, John Colquhoun helps us to understand the importance of knowing the relationship between law and gospel. In one of the most outstanding Reformed studies on the topic, Colquhoun encourages believers to combat both legalism and antinomianism by joyfully embracing a correct view of the law centered on the Person of Christ. 

Want to learn more about "The Law and the Gospel?" Enjoy a series of exclusive lectures by Paul Smalley of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary here.


Publisher’s Introduction 

Author’s Introduction 



  1. The Law of God in General
  2. The Law of God as Promulgated to the Israelites from Mount Sinai
  3. The Properties of the Moral Law
  4. The Rules for Understanding Aright the Ten Commandments
  5. The Gospel of Christ
  6. The Uses of the Gospel and of the Law in Subservience to It
  7. The Difference between the Law and the Gospel
  8. The Agreement between the Law and the Gospel
  9. The Establishment of the Law by the Gospel
  10. The Believer’s Privilege of Being Dead to the Law as a Covenant of Works, with a Highly Important Consequence of It
  11. The High Obligations under Which Believers Lie to Yield Even Perfect Obedience to the Law as a Rule of Life
  12. The Nature, Necessity, and Desert of Good Works 


“John Colquhoun is little known in our own day, but this Scottish Presbyterian pastor has left a testimony to the life-giving gospel in this book that will echo for ages to come. Colquhoun expertly explains the moral law in its various administrations so that sinners know its demands, can flee to the gospel for life, and be informed how they can walk in a manner that draws on and reflects their union with Christ. Colquhoun’s work is a wonderful tonic for the soul, as he so clearly presents the demands of the law and the promises of the gospel that anyone who reads this book is bound to walk away with a greater appreciation for the gospel of Christ.” 

—J. V. Fesko, Harriet Barbour Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi 

“Over time, a fine mixed wine becomes richer in its subtle interlacing of distinct scents and accents. The aging of Gospel wine from the 16th to 19th centuries through Calvin, Fisher, Boston, and Colquhoun traces a singular vintage, yet with distinguishing accents of law and grace. John Colquhoun, an expert sommelier of the Gospel of sovereign grace, in his A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel, offers the best vintage in this well-seasoned classic. Lovers of Covenant Theology will respond to these law-grace notes with deciphering delight at every page-turning sip. Pastor-theologian Colquhoun meticulously sorts out the strands of the Reformed bi-covenant complex without mixing them into a vinegary blend of mono-covenant “Go-law-spel,” which, generation after generation, keeps seeping into the casks of the Church’s history. Page after page, “the law of works, the law of faith, and the law of Christ” are skillfully defined and demonstrated, e.g., how the covenant of works occurs side by side, in subservience to the eternal, salvific purposes of the covenant of grace in the Old covenant. Following his mentor, Thomas Boston, Israel is under both, but “in different senses.”  

Again, Colquhoun sagaciously deciphers the single note of law appearing in two different covenant administrations: The covenant of works, demanding perfect obedience for life, and the covenant of grace, wherein the law is fulfilled for justification by Christ yet delivered as a gracious rule to daily guide His redeemed people. Careful interlacing coupled with careful distinctions of law and Gospel illuminate his presentation from beginning to end. Many preachers stumble in these matters to this day, unwittingly serving wormwood for wine. Colquhoun’s vintage is drawn from a faithful tradition, biblically pure, seasoned, and mature. So, whether you are a preacher in the pulpit or a person in the pew, “Take and drink your fill!” Colquhoun, the Law-Gospel sommelier, pours from a priceless bottle of covenant grace, paid in full by the covenant work of Christ - the second Adam. I could not recommend a better book to chart the law-gospel dynamic for enhancing one’s understanding of and communion with our covenant Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!” 

—Pastor David Inks, Covenant URC, Fresno, CA   

About the Author

John Colquhoun (1748–1827) was ordained as minister of St. John’s in South Leith in 1781, where he served for forty-six years. He was a minister in the Church of Scotland whose sermons and writings reflect those of the Marrow brethren of the Secession church. Colquhoun’s writings are theologically astute and intensely practical. He wrote on the core doctrines of the gospel, particularly on experiential soteriology.