by William Gadsby (1773-1844)
William Gadsby was the pastor of the Strict Baptist church in Manchester, England, for 38 years. Today, he is best known for his hymnbook, A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (better known as Gadsby's Hymns), which he describes as a "selection of hymns [written by Gadsby, Hart, and others] free from Arminianism and sound in the faith." In my opinion, it remains the best collection of sovereign grace hymns ever compiled. In his day, he was also known for his preaching. He preached nearly 12,000 sermons. He also traveled over 60,000 miles, often by foot and helped start forty congregations. The following article is excerpted from his work, The Present State of Religion. I think that anyone might profit from it, but if you happen to think that the Ten Commandments are the believer’s rule of life, you might try answering Gadsby’s questions. Can you?
Dear Sir, Friend G. informs me you wish me to write to you, and inform you what law it is that I say the believer is in no sense under. I therefore write to say (though I cannot help thinking you must know) that it is the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai, commonly called the moral law, or ten commandments, recorded in Exod 20, and hinted at, with its curses annexed to it, in Deut 27. This is the law I intend, and do venture to say that the believer in Christ is in no sense whatever under it; so that it is not a rule of life to that man who is led by the Spirit. As you promised to answer me if I should write to you, I will propose to you a few questions, and I hope I shall do it in the fear of God, and shall expect you to answer them in plainness of speech; and,
1st. If the law is the believer’s rule of life, I shall thank you to tell me what is intended by the letter written by the apostles and elders, and sent to the believing Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 15, and shall expect you to explain the chapter.