While others are trying to slay 2k with what appears to be a minority view of which version of the Belgic Confession has been adopted by the URCNA, this might be a good time to visit the Westminster Confession on the topic. It would, of course, be anachronistic to describe the WCF as neo-Cal or Van Tillian, but there are plenty of Reformed teeth being worn down in gnashing over, for example, David Van Drunen dusting off the natural law for fresh consideration.
But if you can hear yourself think over all the screaming, one can find the natural law perspective of the Westminster divines has, indeed, found its way into the confession. For example, consider the word “equity.” Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us that the civil laws of Israel are no longer binding “further than the general equity thereof may require.” But what does “equity” mean? A law dictionary would tell us that it “denotes the spirit and the habit of fairness, justness, and right dealing which would regulate the intercourse of men with men,” and that’s actually a pretty good start. Surely it doesn’t satisfy those who wish for mathematic-like certainty in civil law or those with a radical distrust of reason, but it pretty well captures a concept which has been with us for quite some time.
One article summarizes:
In the classical Reformed tradition, equity is the righteousness of the moral law, which is 1) embodied in a natural law binding upon all men as creatures under the authority of the Creator, and 2) common to moral teaching found in the Scriptures as a whole.
The article makes the customary inquiry of John Calvin:
It is a fact that the law of God which we call the moral law is nothing else than a testimony of natural law and of that conscience which God has engraved upon the minds of men. Consequently, the entire scheme of this equity of which we are now speaking has been prescribed in it. Hence, this equity alone must be the goal and rule and limit of all laws.
Similarly, Beza speaks of a “law of nature common to all nations” and continues:
if anyone compares several of the laws of the Greeks, and many of the laws of the Romans, with the Mosaic, he will find a similarity among them in establishing penalties, so that it is sufficiently plain that all were adapted to the same goal of natural equity.
Perhaps we can get closer to the mind of the divines by consulting “a Puritan pastor in London during the Westminster Assembly” Samuel Bolton who
identifies the “common and general equity’ of the judicial law as that which is shared with natural law. . . “that which is of common and general equity remains still in force. It is a maxim: Those judgments which are common and natural, are moral and perpetual.”
Samuel Rutherford “sat with the drafting committee which bore primary responsibility for the text of the Westminster Confession.” He tells us “For our divines strongly argue from the moral equity, and the law of nature…”
The author concludes:
Classical Reformed writers isolate in the judicial laws those moral directions which are held in common with natural law and the moral law teaching of Scripture as a whole, in distinction from what is peculiar to the judicial laws and hence does not rise above temporary obligation. The classical Reformed tradition has sought corroboration from other sources for the content of general equity, before accounting a provision of the Mosaic judicial law to be of perpetual obligation. Often the initial point of reference for Puritan writers was natural law, and this is reflected in the Confession’s references to the light of nature, and to the law given to man at creation.
Meanwhile in another web essay, Peter Wallace comments on Turretin, who
claims that Roman law may often be preferred to Mosaic law because much of Roman law is “derived from natural and common right…[and] can be more suitable to places, times and persons.” In other words, Turretin’s concern is for the equity of the law (which may be found in various law codes), since the particular statutes are no longer binding.
All of which is to say that attempts to portray natural law reasoning as unconfessional or to imply that anything but VanTillian apologetics is mandatory for the Reformed isn’t going to get much help from the Westminster Confession.