Institutes of Biblical Law
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 of its 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 the 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 under God.
To understand Biblical law it is necessary to understand certain basic characteristics of that law. In it, certain broad premises or principles are declared. These are declarations of basic law. The Ten Commandments give us such declarations.
A second characteristics of Biblical law is that the major portion of the law is case law, i.e., the illustration of the basic law principle in terms of specific cases. These specific cases are often illustrations of the extent of the application of the law; that is, by citing a specific case the necessary jurisdiction of the law is revealed for that situation.
The law, then, asserts principles and cites cases to develop the implications of those principles, with the purpose and direction of the law being the restitution of God's order.