Thomas Shepard wrote, in 1649, “For all laws, whether ceremonial or judicial, may be referred to the Decalogue, as appendices to it, or applications of it, and so to comprehend all other laws as their summary.”
It is an illusion to hold that such opinions were simply a Puritan aberration rather than a truly Biblical practice and an aspect of the persisting life of Christendom. It is a modern heresy that holds that the law of God has no meaning nor any binding force for man today. It is an aspect of the influence of humanistic and evolutionary thought on the church, and it posits an evolving, developing god. This “dispensational” god expressed himself in law in an earlier age, then later expressed himself by grace alone, and is now perhaps to express himself in still another way. But this is not the God of Scripture, whose grace and law remain the same in every age, because He, as the sovereign and absolute lord, changes not, nor does He need to change. The strength of man is the absoluteness of his God.
To attempt to study Scripture without studying its law is to deny it. To attempt to understand Western civilization apart from the impact of Biblical law within it and upon it is to seek a fictitious history and to reject twenty centuries and their progress.
The Institutes of Biblical Law has as its purpose a reversal of the present trend. It is called “Institutes” in the older meaning of that word, i.e., fundamental principles, here of law, because it is intended as a beginning, as an instituting consideration of that law which must govern society, and which shall govern society under God.