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Respecting the identity of what are commonly called, the Coven
nant of Redemption, and the Covenant of Grace.
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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, to be found in the scripturę. 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 con. tend 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, page 10. 66 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 scrip
ture reveals but one for that purpose, the new covenant, the everlasting covenant." :: Gib's Sacred Contemplations, page 142.
covenant of Redemption, by all who admit the thing, is allowed to be brought into view in Isaiah, liii. 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 made intercession 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 unfrustrable. The promise therefore, was suspended upon no contingence, and must take effect. It engag. ed 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
shall come cast out."...ovenant of gra addresse
What is called the covenant of grace, is brought into 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 these two cases of promise, without a numerical, and with only a modal distinction.
Let it be here remarked, that God's promise of eter. nal life to men, assumes different attitudes, under dif. ferent circumstances. It is sometimes addressed to men conditionally, as a mere proposal. Thus it is presented in the 55th chapter of Isaiah, first verse. " Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ;, and he that hath no money, come, 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 ňot ?
Hearken diligently unto me, and eat 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 gra. cious covenant ; for it comprehends the sure mèrcies 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 carried 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 Redemp. tion, and what is called the covenant of Grace is anal. ogous 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 promises are yea and amen.
As the covenant state of all the elect is the same, except that some have actually embraced the covenant, and some have not, let us, to ascertain and settle this matter conclusively, have our eye upon an individual, say B. Suppose then that God the Father, promised the Son, that B should be one of his seed, and adorn his triumphs. * : . The nature, time, and manner, of the salvation of B,
are to be understood as comprehended in the promise, which we suppose to be made respecting him : viz, that salvation should be proposed to him ; that he should be influenced to embrace this proposal ; be made a subject of the indwelling of the Spirit ; and in consequence inherit eternal life. The promise de. pended upon no contingence, and could not fail. Thus B. was “ chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that he should be holy and without blame before God in love. He was predestinated to the adoption of a child.” The promise in this case, which is of the nature of choice and predestination to life, is what is intended by the Covenant of Redemption. It is evident that this promise completely interested B in the blessings of the covenant. No posterior circumstance could interest him more perfectly. All that should follow, in relation to his salvation, would be but the execution of this promise.
In the course of events B exists, as a revolted and guilty creature. At the time, and in the manner fixed on, it is revealed to him, that God means to save a part of that revolted race to which he belongs. He is not now told that he is one designated, But he is told that Christ has laid down his life for the sheep ; that salvation through him is tendered to men indiscriminately ; that the door of mercy is open, and he may enter
*. The justness of applying the promise of the covenant of redemption to an individual will surely not be contested. For it has a full warrant in these words of our Savior, John, vi. "All that the Father giveth to me shall come to ine." This passage undeniably teaches that individual sinners were given to Christ. For all is composed of individuals. And these individuals were those and those on. ly, whom Christ undertook to bring to himself. This was to be done to be sure in a certain way. Stiil the promise, both on the part of the Father and and of the Son, respected individuals, and the same individuals.
if he pleases. God assures him that he will be his
Now, if we review this process, it will appear, that the covenant proposed, is nothing more nor less than the Covenant of Redemption revealed and addressed to B. For it simply unfolds the promises of this covenant, involving the principle upon which they were made, and the manner in which it was agreed that they should be carried into effect, yiz. by the preaching of it, and the application of it by the Holy Ghost. The cove. nant which takes effect, as a matter of mutual agreement between God and B. is nothing more nor less than the Covenant of Redemption, executed with respect to B. B's salvation is now no more secure, and he is no more interested in the covenant favor of God than he was before he believed. There is indeed an. alteration, with respect to his actual relative condition, In respect to his unbelieving state, he was under the curse ; now he is under the blessing. He before refused. Now his consent is given. But his consent was comprehended in, and secured by the promise of the covenant. Consent is a blessing of the covenant, and in it the work of salvation begins. It is the promise of God then entirely, not the consent of B, which interests him in the blessing. So that the covenants which are such as a matter of proposal, and agreement, are the covenant of redemption, published, and executed. But neither the publication, nor execution of a prom. ise, forms numerically another promise. So far therefore as the term covenant is applied to either in a distinct sense, it can only mark a new modification in which the covenant of Redemption is placed.
* Douaith goin his non antes?