Errors and
Absurdities of the Papists, touching the Doctrine of the
Law and of the Gospel

Hamilton`s “Patrick`s Places, “ (1528)

Cited in
Townsend`s Foxes Martyrs,Vol iv, p 575-6.

I.They erroneously conceive
opinion of salvation in the law, which is only to be
sought in the faith of Christ, and in no other.

II. They erroneously do
seek God`s favour by works of the law, not knowing that
the law, in this our corrupt nature, worketh only the
anger of God

III They err also in this,
that whereas the office of the law is diverse from and
contrary to the gospel, they, without any difference,
confound the one with the other, making the gospel to be a
law, and Christ to be a Moses.

IV. They err in dividing
the law unskilfully into three parts: into the law
natural, the law moral, and the law evangelical.

V. They err again dividing
the law Evangelical into precepts and counsels, making the
precepts to serve for all men, the counsels only to serve
for them that be perfect.

VI. The chief substance of
all their teaching and preaching resteth upon the works of
the law, as may appear by their religion, which wholly
consisteth in men’s merits, traditions laws, canons,
decrees, and ceremonies.

VII. In the doctrines of
salvation, remission, and justification, either they admix
the law equally with the gospel, or else, clean secluding
the gospel. they teach and preach the law, so that little
mention is made of the faith of Christ or none at all.

VIII. They err, in thinking
that the law of God requireth nothing in us under pain of
damnation, but only our obedience in external actions: as
for the inward affections and concupiscence, they esteem
them but light matters.

IX. They, not knowing the
true nature and strength of the law, do erroneously
imagine tlaat it is in man’s power to fulfil it.

X. They err in thinking it
not only to be in man’s power to keep the law of God, but
also to perform more perfect works than be in God’s law
commanded; and these they call the works of perfection.
And hereof rise the works of supererogation, of
satisfaction, of congruity, and condignity, to store up
the treasure house of the pope’s church, to be sold out to
the people for money.

XI They err in saying, that
the state monastical is more perfect for keeping the
counsels of the gospel, than other states be in keeping
the law of the gospel.

XII. The counsel of the
gospel they call the vows ol their religious men, as
profound humility, perfect chastity, and wilful poverty.

XIII. They err abominably,
in equalling their laws and constitutions with God`s law;
and in saying that man`s law bindeth, under pain of
damnation, no less than God`s law.

XIV. They err sinfully, in
punishing transgressors of their laws more sharply than
the transgressors of the law of God; as appeareth by their
inquisitions and their canon law etc.


XV. Finally they err most
horribly in this , that where the free promise of God
ascribeth our salvation only to our faith in
Christ,excluding works; they on the contrary, ascribe
salvation only, or principally, to works and
merits,excluding faith; whereupon ariseth the application
of the sacrifice of the mass, `ex opere operato ` for the
quick and dead, application of the merits of Christ`s
passion in bulls, application of the merits of all
religious orders, and such others above specified more at
large in the former part of this history.

Integral to these views was
Hamilton`s observations on

Cautions to be observed and avoided in the tru
understanding of the Law.`

The first caution; that we
through the misunderstanding of the Scriptures .do not
take the law for the gospel, nor the gospel for the law;
but shilfully discern and distinguish the voice of the
one, from the voice of the other.

Many there be,who, reading
the book of the New Testament, do take and
understandwhatsoever they see contained in the said book
to be only and merely the voice of the gospel: and
contrariwise, whatsoever is contained in the compass of
the Old Testament (that is, within the law, histories,
psalms, and prophets),to be onlyy and merely the word and
voice of the law.Wherein many are deceived; for the
preaching of the law, and the preaching of the gospel, are
mixed togetherin both the Testaments, as well the old as
the New; neither is the order of these two doctrines to be
distinguished by books and leaves, but by the diversity of
God`s spirit speaking unto us. For sometimes in the Old
Testament God doth comfort, as he comforted Adam, with the
voice of the gospel:: Sometimes also in the New Testament
he doth threaten and terrify, as when Christ threatened
the Pharisees. In some places again, Moses and the
prophets play the Evangelists; insomuch thast Jerome
doubteth whether he should call Isaiah a prophet or an
evangelist. In some places likewiseChrist and the apostles
supply the part of Moses; and as Christ himself, until his
death, was under the law ( which law he came not to break,
but to fulfil), so his sermons made to the Jews, run all
for the most part, upon the perfect doctrine and works of
the law, showing and teaching what we ought to do by the
right law of justice, and what danger ensued in not
performing the same: all which places, though they be
contained in the book of the New Testament, yet are they
to be referred to the doctrine of the law, ever having
them included a privy exception of repentance and faith in
Christ Jesus. As for example , when Christ thus
preacheth,`Blessed be they that be pure at heart, for they
shall see God etc ` Again ` Except ye be made like these
children,ye shall not enter etc.` Item, `But he that doth
the will of my Father, they shall enter into the kingdom
of heaven etc` Item,`the parable of the unkind servant
justly cast into prison for not forgivinghis fellow etc`
The casting of the rich glutton into hell etc. Item `He
that denieth me here before men, I will deny him before my
Father etc. with such other places of like condition. All
these, I say, pertaining to the doctrine of the law, do
ever include in them a secret exception of earnest
repentance, and faith in Christ`s precious blood. For
else, Peter denied, and yet repented. Many publicans and
sinners were unkind, unmerciful, and hard hearted to their
fellow servants; and yet many of them repented, and by
faith were saved, etc. The grace of Christ Jesus work in
us earnest repentance, and faith in him unfeigned. Amen !

Briefly, to know when the
law speaketh, and when the gospel speaketh, and to discern
the voice of the one from the voice of the other, this may
serve for a note, that when there is any moral work
commanded to be done, either for eschewing of punishment,
or upon promise of any reward temporal, or eternal, or
else when any promise is made with condition of any work
commanded in the law, there is to be understood the voice
of the law. Contrary where the promise of life and
salvation is offered unto us freely without all our
merits, and simply, without any condition annexed of any
law, eitber natural, ceremonial, or moral: all those
places , whether they be read in the Old Testament or in
the New, are to be referred to the voice and doctrine of
the gospel. And this ,promise of God, freely made to us by
the merits of Jesus Christ, so long before prophesied to
us in she Old Testament, and afterwards exhibited in the
New Testament, and now requiring nothing but our faith in
the Son of God, is called properly the voice of thi
gospel, and differeth from the voice of the law in this,
that it hath no condition adjoined of our meriting, but
only respecteth the merits of Christ the Son of God; by
whose faith only we are promised of God to be saved and
justified: according as we read in Rom.iii ` The
righteousness of God cometh by faith of Jesus Christ in
all, and upon all, that do believe,’&c.

The second caution or
danger to be avoided is, that we now, knowing how to
discern rightly between the law and the goopel and having
intelligence not to mistake the one for the other, must
take heed again that we break not the order between these
two, tking and applying the law, where the gospel is to be
applied, either to ourselves or towards others. For albeit
the law and the gospel many times are to be joined
together in order of doctrine, yet the case may fall
sometimes, that the 1aw must he utterly sequestered from
the gospel: as when any person or persons do feel
themselves, with the majesty of the law and judgment of
God,so terrified and oppressed, and with the burden of
their sins overweighed and thrown down into utter
discomfort, and almost even to the pit of hell; as
happeneth many times to soft and timorous consciences of
God good servants. When such mortified hearts do hear,
either in preaching or in reading, any such example or
place of the Scripture which pertaineth to the law, let
them think the same nothing to belong to them, no more
than a mourning weed belongeth to a marriage feast : and
therefore, removing utterly out of their minds all
cogitation of the law, of fear, of judgment and
condemnation, let them only set before their eyes the
gospel, the sweet comforts of God’s promise,frewe
forgiveness of sins in Christ, grace, redemption, liberty,
rejoicing, psalms, thanks, singing and a paradise of
spiritual jocundity, and nothing else; thinking thus with
themselves, that the law hath done his office

in them already, and now
must need give place to his better, that is, must needs
give room to Christ the Son of God, who is the lord and
master, the fulfiller, and also the finisher of the law ;
for the end of the law is Christ.

The third danger to be
avoided is, that we do not use or apply on the contrary
side, the gospel instead of the law.

For as the other before,
was even as much to put on a mourning gown in the feast of
a marriage, so is this but even to cast pearls before
swine; wherein is a great abuse among many. For commonly
it is seen that these worldly epicures and secure
Mammonists, to whom the doctrine doth properly appertain,
do receive and apply to themselves most principally the
sweet promises of the gospel: and contrairiwise, the other
contrite and bruised hearts, to whom belong only the
joyful tidings of the gospel and not the law, for the most
part receive and retain to themselves the terrible voice
and sentence of the law. Hereby it cometli to pass that
many do rejoice where they should mourn; and on the other
side, many do fear and mourn where they need not:
wherefore, to conclude, in private use of life, let every
person discreetly discern between the law and the gospel.
and aptly apply to himself that which seeth convenient.

And again, in public order
of doctrine, let every discreet preacher put a difference
between the broken heart of the mourning sinner, and the
unrepentant worldling, and so conjoin both the law with
the gospel, and the gospel with the law, that in throwing
down the wicked, ever he spare the weak hearted; and
again, so spare the weak, that he do not encourage the

And thus much concerning
the conjunction and difference between the law and the
gospel, upon the occasion of Mr Patrick’s Places.