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It will appear in the progress of this work, that there is an exact similarity between the promises of the coyenant made with Abraham and those of the covenant of Redemption. We cannot anticipate the analysis of the former which is to be given. But so much may be here observed. There was a seed of some sort, with which God promised Abraham that he would establish his covenant, so as to be their God. Supposing this promise to be absolute, which will be proved ; it was just like the promise made by God the Father to the Son. The promise to the Son, was ; that he would give him a seed ; that he would establish his cove. nant with that seed ; and be their God. The promise to Abraham was ; that God would give him a seed ; that he would establish his covenant with that seed ; and be their God. Let us now suppose, that Moses was one of the seed of Abraham promised to him, and respected in the covenant made with him, as he undoubtedly was. The promise then secured, that Moses should exist, that he should embrace the covenant, and walk in it; and that God would be his God. Moses exists, and at a particular moment * actually embraces the covenant. But a numerically distinct covenant is not now established with Moses. If this were true, there would be as many covenants as there are believers. No, it is the covenant of Abraham, which is now, in fulfilment of the promise of it, established with Moses. It is this identical covenant applied and executed with respect to him. Moses and Abraham are in the same covenant. This illustrates and confirms the identity of the covenants of Redemp. tion and Grace. · Hence the word covenant, when it is used with respect to the blessing, is so universally in the singular. It may be useful to refer to a few passages. Psalms, xxv. 14, “ The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." Psalms, lxxiv. 20, “ Have respect unto the covenant.?! Psalms, cxi. 5, “ He hath given meat ún. to them that fear him, he will be ever mindful of his bovenant,” Isaiah, lvi. 4, “ For thus saith the Lord unto the Eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant.” Hosea, vi. 7,“ But they like men have transgressed the covenant.” Matthew, ii. I, “ Even the messenger of the covenant.” Acts, iii. 25, 66. Ye are the children of the covenant.” Hebrews, ix. 15," And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, or covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions, which were under the first testament, they which are called might recive the promise of eternal inheritance." Surely this language, which runs through the scripture, from beginning to end, is against the idea, that God has two or more distinct gra. cious covenants respecting his redeemed people, securing their salvation. Nor, as Dr. Gill correctly observes, is
there one word inscripture in favor of such a distinction* . We shall go upon the principle then, that the cove. nant, meaning by covenant, that which is equivalent with efficient promise (for the term, as it means law, token, &c. is here out of the question) is one, and shall call it God's gracious covenant.
This one covenant is the substance of that revelation which God has given to us in the Holy Scriptures.. The historic and prophetic parts of the scripture are to be viewed as illustrating the manner in which God exe. : cutes the promises of this covenant. The devotional parts chiefly consist in celebrating the omnipotence, the wisdom, the faithfulness and grace with which it is carried into effect. All the assurances which are there addressed to individuals, or the church at large ; all the benedictions pronounced ; all the tender names God is pleased to assume and the condescending manner in which he is pleased to declare, that he unites him. self to saints as their God; are so many illustrations of the plenitude of grace which it contains. The law is a schoolmaster to lead us to him who is the mediator of it. The blood of Christ is the blood of this
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* But the Dr, did not perceive how this idea militates entirely with the view he has given us, and which is given us in the writings of Baptists generally, of the Abrahamic covenant, of the nature of the Hebrew community, and of exclum sive adult membership and baptism. How it does will be seen in the sequel.
covenant solemnly sealing it. “ For,” Matthew, xxvi. 28,“ this is my blood of the New Testament."
This one coveriant is the flourishing stock on which every promise to man grows, whether absolute or condi. tional, relative to one dispensation or another, to time or to eternity. On the basis of this covenant it is prop. er for God to make any promise that he sees fit, to families or to individuals. Hence we find in fact, particular promises made to one person, which are not made to another. Some promises were made to Abra. ham, which have not been made to any other of the human race. And this is true of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter and Paul. A promise was made to the widow of Sarepta, which was made to no other human being. Some of these promises arc absolute, some of them conditional. It cannot perhaps be strictly correct to say of one of these particular and appropriate promises, separately considered, that it is the gracious covenant of God, or the covenant of grace, any more than it can be correct to say of a branch, that it is the tree. But as the nature of a branch is determined by the tree on which it grows; so it must be safe and correct to say, that all these particular prom. ises, shooting out from God's gracious covenant, as the parent stock, are exclusively of a gracious nature, and belong to it.
To adopt the beautiful and expressive figure of Paul, Romans, xi. the covenant is an olive tree, (a sym. bol of peace) planted in a bountiful soil, cultured by the hand of efficacious grace, full of fatness, shooting up to heaven, and spreading into an infinite multitude of branches. The branches are distinguishable from each other, but they all depend upon the tree, and be. long to it. They may be perpetually multiplying; yet the tree is but one. *
* Herman Witsius, in his Economy of the Covenants, treats the Covenant of of Grace and the Covenant of Redemption as distinguishable. Yet he is constrained to speak of them as essentially the same. His words are, Vol. I. page 382, “ If we view the substance of the covenant, it is but only one, nor is it possible it should be otherways.-- (He means the covenant of grace.) And that Testamens which was consecrated by the blood of Christ, he (Paul) calls everlasting ; because it was settled from eternity, published immediately upon the fall of the first man
Aided by this extended view of God's gracious covenant, we shall be better able to understand the nature of God's transactions with Abraham. To which therefore we will next proceed.
constantly handed down by the ancients, more fully explained by Christ him. self and his apostles and is to continue throughout all ages ; in virtue of which believers shall inherit eternal happiness.” Most undoubtedly it is the covenant of Redemption which was fixed in eternity, and in virtue of which believers inherit eternal happiness. In like manner, Dr. Samuel Hopkins says, System, 2d. Vol. page 93, " The Covenant of Grace, when understood in the most extensive sense, comprehends all.the designs and transactions respecting the redemption of man by Jesus Christ. In this view, it comprehends the eternal purpose of God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to redeem man, fixing the manner of it, and every thing that relates to it, and entering into a mutual agreement or covenant, in which the part which each person should perform, as distinguished from the other, was fixed and voluntarily undertaken." Here certainly is the covenant of Redemption. Yet, strange to tell ! The Dr. attempts to make an entirely distinct thing of the Covenant of Grace. The reason of this confusion is, that it is impossible to give any account of the one, without comprehending the other. Is the Covenant of Grace simply an agreement which subsists between God and the individual believer ? Then it had its beginning in time. For the agreement could not exist before the believer himself existed. And then there are as ma. ny Covenants of Grace as there are believers. For the agreement which subsists between God and me, is not an agreement which subsists between God and another person. In short, a Covenant of Grace, distinct numerically from the Cove. mant of Redemption, is an indefinable thing.
Respecting the character and relative state of Abraham, prior
to God's establishing with him that covenant which has been commonly styled the covenant of circumcision; or prior to that covenant transaction recorded in the 17th chapter of Genesis.
The cammok of rearne Messianic kingdonna
IT is undeniable that from a period not very remote from the first apostacy, to the calling of Abra. ham, there were pious persons in the world. Abel, Enoch, and Noah, were eminently of this character.. Others there were who were distinguished from the idolatrous, and irreligious part of mankind, as the sons of God. But so little is said respecting their open separation and union, under covenant bonds ; or as a collective society ; that we can scarcely discern an organized Church during that whole period.
The calling of Abraham was a new epoch in the history of the work of redemption. It was an event which had special respect to the Messiah ; and the establishment, increase, and perpetutity, of his kingdom in a compacted state, and before the eyes of the world. Abraham was a person of real piety. He was strong in faith, giving glory to God. He is spoken of in the scriptures, in terms of high commendation, in that light. God testifies of him, Genesis, xviii. 19. “ For I know him, that he will command his children, and his house. hold after him; and they shall keep the way of the Lord; to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” He is called by way of eminence,“ the friend of God." Isaiah, xli. 8. He is spoken of by Jesus Christ, as the Father of the whole body of Israel. John viii. 56. “ Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad.” And the whole