« VorigeDoorgaan »
vious covenant transactions with the Patriarchs. It is found in the 19th chapter of Exodus, 5 and 6 verses ; and, as there laid down, is undeniably a conditional promise. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above all people, for all the earth is mine, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holý nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Jsrael.”
Law was involved in this covenant, as will be seen hereafter. Still, it is evident the word covenant has respect here, at least in part, to promise. And this promise is conditional.
10. The word covenant is used to signify the sanctification of the heart by the special influences of the Holy Spirit, involving a cordial acceptance of the overtures of grace on the part of him who is a subject of this sanctification. A passage in the 31st chapter of Jeremiah presents this idea of covenant.
" Behold the days come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. But this shall be the covenant which I shall make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inwärd parts, and write it in their hearts ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."" This covenant is mentioned again in the 40th verse of the next chapter." And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts and they shall not depart from me. It is to be obseryed, that the promise of God is one thing, and the event, which he engages to bring to pass, is another. It is the latter which is here called a new covenant. It consists in the actual renovation of the hearts of the people of Israel and Judah ; and in God's becoming spiritually and unalterably united to them as their God. This covenant was made with the house of Judah on
their return from the Babylonian captivity ; and again under the ministry, and after the ascension of Jesus Christ; but will be made, in a far more extensive and glorious manner, and, in complete fulfilment of the promise, at some future period.
Here then we have ten distinct senses in which the word covenant is used in the Bible, without adverting to the nature of the covenant of circumcision. If the word has so many distinct meanings in the scripture, it must be hazardous to assume any particular definition of covenant, as applying in all cases, or even generally. Nor is it safe to say, that it is here to be taken literally, and there figuratively. It is not certain that it is once used in a figurative sense either in the Old Testament or the New. Like many words in all langnages, it has a large and inappropriate signification. The idea which it is designed to convey, in any particular place, is to be ascertained, from the subject to which it is applied, and the transactions which it expresses. Some of these distinctions respecting the meaning of this word will come into view, and appear to have their use, as we progress in our enquires.
Respecting the identity of what are commonly called, the Cove.
nant of Redemption, and the Covenant of Grace.
IN the most approved systems of Divinity, the word covenant is often used to express an agreement which is supposed to have taken place in eternity, between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, in regard to the redemption of the Church. This supposed agreement is hence called the covenant of redemption. The word is used also to express the promise made by God to every believer, that he will ultimately bestow upon him the blessedness of heaven. This blessedness is promised and conferred wholly of grace. Hence the promise is called the covenant of grace. Nei.
ther of these phrases, the Covenant of Redemption or the Covenant of Grace, it to be found in the scrip
There are however those covenant tranactions which they are meant to designate.
That we may fix the covenant of circumcision in its place in the economy of God, and have correct views of the nature of its promises, it is necessary that we should settle the question, if we can, whether there is any foundation in the scripture for this distinction ; or whether these covenants are two; or are only distinct modifications of one and the same covenant. Writers have different opinions on this question. Some contend for two covenants, numerically distinct from each other. Others insist that there is but one. * The
* " The distinction between a covenant of Grace, and a covenant of Redemption is without any foundation in the word of God.” Gill's reply to Clark,
“ The covenant of Redemption subsists between the three persons of the Trinity, and was eternal. But the covenant of Grace was between God and fallen man, and none are brought into this covenant unless they do, in some way assent to its conditions." Cowles, on the identity of the Jewish and Christian Church, page 7th. " There is only one covenant of God's making, the covenant of Grace and Redemption, for the eternal salvation of mankind sinners. The scripqure reveals but one for that purpose, the new covenant, the everlasting covenant." dib's Sacred Conteniplations, page 142.
covenant of Redemption, by all who admit the thing, is allowed to be brought into view in Isaiah, lü. chapter, 10, 11, and 12 verses. " When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgres. sors, and he bare the sin of many, and inade inter cession for the transgressors.” This is understood to be a promise on the part of God the Father to the Son. The ground of this promise was, the Son's making his soul an offering for sin. This event was as certain
as the purposes of God are unalterable, and un. frustrable. The promise therefore, was suspended upon no contingence, and must take effect. “It
engaged a seed, and the salvation of that seed; so that they must all infallibly be saved. Accordingly our Savior ob. serves, John vi. 37, “ All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me ; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."
What is called the covenant of grace, is brought in. to view, in all the promises which are addressed by God to believers generally. An example we have in this promise, Hebrews xiii. 6, “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
The question now is, whether the term covenant may not apply to the se two cases of promise, without a numerical, and with only a modal distinction.
Let it be here remarked, that God's promise of eternal life to men, assumes different attitudes, under dif. ferent circumstances. It is sometimes addressed to men conditionally, as a mere proposal. Thus it is pre. sented in the 55th chapter of Isaiah, first verse. Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money, comc, buy and eat, yea, come,
buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not ? Hearken diligently unto me, and cat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me, hear and your soul shall live ; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Here God proposes a covenant to men, which is certainly a gracious covenant; for it comprehends the sure mercies of David, or the blessing of eternal life. The promise is conditional. If they will incline their ear and hear, their soul shall live. But sometimes this promise becomes a matter of mutual agreement After having been proposed, as it must ever be in order to be an object of personal faith; it has an application; or is car. ried into effect, by virtue of the consent of him to whom it is proposed. In the former case it secures no blessing. In the latter it secures all blessings. For the promise as conditional might be made to mankind universally ; and be as universally disagreed to. No ef. fect would then follow but their heavier condemnation. But no man can embrace the promise and fail of salvation.* Here is a very important modal difference, yet the promise is numerically the same.—Perhaps the distinction between the covenant of Redemption, and what is called the covenant of Grace is analogous to this ; not that they are two, but the same covenant under different modifications ; first, in the form of an absolute promise, made by the Father to the Son; then revealed and proposed to men; and then applied and carried into effect, in the persons of those who consent to it. If this should appear to be the case, it will be coincident with, and therefore confirmed by, the innumerable examples in which the word covenant, when it respects the great work of redeeming grace, is used in the singular. It is scarce ever used in the plural.
* All the conditional or hypothetical promises recorded in the Bible, are, I conceive, the covenant of Grace or Redemption, call it which you will, presentsd in this form of a proposal. And all the absolute promises are this covenant applied or carried into effect with respect to the elect. In the latter case the promiscs are yea and amen.