by John Brown of Haddington
Man's ruin being wholly of himself by his sin, and his damnation being infinitely just, it was impossible, that his recovery should proceed from God by any necessity of nature. He is indeed naturally good and merciful, but it was not necessary that this goodness and mercy should be manifested in the infinitely costly, the eternal redemption of his malicious enemies, that sought his life.—As infinitely holy, righteous, and faithful, he might have punished every sinful creature with everlasting destruction, Ps 11:5.—Being infinitely and independently blessed in himself, their ruin could not have impaired his happiness, Exod 3:14; John 5:26; 1 Tim 6:15-16; 1 Tim 1:11. Nevertheless, if the whole of mankind had been eternally ruined, his wisdom and goodness in his creation of them, had not so clearly shone forth. To have created a whole kind of rational beings, not one of which answered the end of their formation, in glorifying and enjoying himself; or to have been seemingly disappointed of his immediate end, with respect to the whole of them, would not have convincingly manifested his infinite wisdom, at least to his enemies.—If not one of them had shared his eternal favour, how obscure had the manifestation of his infinite goodness been among them?—In vain it is pretended, that in such a case, God would have immediately swept Adam and Eve into hell, and so prevented the damnation of millions.—As in making the covenant of works with Adam, God had in his view every particular person represented in it,—his equity and faithfulness required, that, if the conditions had been fulfilled, every one of them should be brought into being to receive his share of the promised reward;—even as the covenant of grace secures the same, with respect to those represented by Christ, Isa 53:10; Ps 2:8; Ps 22:27-31; Ps 89:4.—In like manner, when this covenant of works was broken, God's equity and faithfulness secured the existence of all the representees under the curse, to receive their share of the deserved penalty.
If God, in his sovereign mercy and grace, intended to recover any part of self-ruined mankind, he could not have renewed the covenant of works, or entered into any other with themselves, as immediate parties. 1. Their infamous character, as sinners, rendered it dishonourable for him to have any immediate dealings with them. 2. The terms of the covenant of works, through their breach of it, became altogether impracticable; perfect obedience to all its precepts could not be performed, and full satisfaction for the infinitely criminal violation of it could not be rendered;—no part of which could be fulfilled by any finite person, Gal 3:10; Ps 49:7. 3. Partly by the curse of the broken law lying on their conscience, as the strength of sin,—and partly by the reign of corruption in their heart, all men in their fallen state are absolutely incapable of performing any thing spiritually good, or even of ceasing from that which is morally evil, 1 Cor 15:56; Rom 8:7-8; Job 14:4; Jer 17:9; Matt 15:19; Matt 19:24; Eph 2:1-3,12. 4. The whole structure of the covenant of works being of God, his holiness, equity, and faithfulness were deeply interested in the securing its honour. Infinite holiness could not bear with the wanton violation of the holy and good commandment delivered to Adam, Hab 1:13; Jer 44:4; Rom 7:12. Infinite justice could not forbear punishing so horrid a crime, Gen 18:25; Deut 32:4; Ps 11:5-7. Infinite faithfulness could not dispense with the execution of that death which was doubly secured in the threatening, Gen 2:17; Titus 1:2; Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; 2 Tim 2:13. It was therefore necessary, that any covenant for the redemption of fallen men should be made with a divine person, who could infallibly secure, and, in the same nature which had sinned, would fully pay the debt, as stated from the broken covenant of works, Ps 40:6-8; Isa 53:4-5,10-12; Rom 8:3-4; 1 Thess 5:9-10; Gal 2:20; Acts 20:28; Titus 2:14; Heb 2:10-11,14,16; Heb 7:22; Heb 9:15; Matt 20:28; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Rev 1:5; Rev 5:9.
That misery into which all men plunged themselves by sin, was the occasion of God's making a new covenant for their redemption, Eccles 7:29; Gen 3:1-19; Hos 13:9; Eph 2:1-10; Eph 1:7; Rom 3:9-20,23; Rom 8:3,7-8; Rom 5:12-21; Titus 3:3-4. But his own amazing love and sovereign grace was the cause and spring of it, Ps 40:5; Ps 136:23; Jer 31:3,20,33; Isa 54:8-10; Isa 63:7; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10,19; Luke 2:14; Eph 1:6-7; Eph 2:4-8. And hence it is commonly called the covenant of grace. Originating from the mere grace of God, and contracted between two divine persons, it was made from all eternity. Hence, 1. Christ is represented as having his goings forth from of old, from everlasting, Mic 5:2; as set up from everlasting, Prov 8:23; and foreordained before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet 1:20. 2. Grace and eternal life are represented as promised, as given before the world began, 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2.—and the kingdom of heaven as prepared for men, and their names as enrolled in the book of life,—before the foundation of the world, Matt 25:34; Rom 9:23; Rev 13:8.—This covenant of grace is nevertheless called the second covenant, because, though it was first made, it is last executed, the breach of the covenant of works necessarily preceding the entrance of this. And it is called the new covenant for much the same reason, and because of its everlasting stability and excellency, Heb 8:6-13; Jer 31:31-34.
As this covenant took its rise from the infinite, the equal of all the three divine persons, they were equally employed in the making of it, and took their respective shares in the work of it, John 3:16; Gal 2:20; Rom 15:30. It is manifest that the Holy Ghost was concerned in it. 1. His will is the very same with that of the Father and the Son, 1 John 5:7; Deut 6:4. 2. Though he be independent and free in his agency, he is sent to execute the plan of this covenant, in publishing the tidings or messages of it,—in forming, anointing, and supporting the manhood of Christ, the Representative of men, in it,—in erecting and governing the church,—and in the effectual application of the blessings purchased by Christ, to man's person and nature, 1 Pet 1:11-12; 2 Pet 1:21; Luke 1:35; Isa 11:2-3; Isa 61:1; Heb 9:14; Acts 13:2-4; Acts 20:28; John 16:7-14; 1 Cor 6:11; Rom 8:2,13; Rom 15:16,19; Eph 1:13-14,17-18; Eph 2:21-22; Eph 5:9; Gal 5:22-23; Gal 5:18,25. And from his concern in the making of this covenant, he hath a right to be Intercessor in the hearts of believers for the blessings of it, Rom 8:15,26-27; Gal 4:6.
But this covenant of grace was, in a peculiar manner, made by God with his own Son, as Mediator, between him and men. 1. The Scripture plainly represents God as covenanting with Christ, Ps 89:3-4,19-36, all which texts have language too emphatic to have their full application to the covenant of royalty over Israel made with David, which was typical of that made with Christ,—Ps 40:6-8; Luke 22:29; Isa 53:10-12; Zech 6:13; which text runs in the future time, because the execution of this covenant is never finished.—And hence we read of Christ's connection with a better covenant, Heb 8:22; Heb 7:6; Heb 9:15;—and of its promises being before made or confirmed by God unto Christ, Gal 3:16-17; Titus 1:2. 2. God is represented as the God, the Head, and Master, and the Judge, of Christ his Son, and as giving, sending, helping, bruising, justifying, and glorifying him, Ps 22:1; Ps 45:7; John 20:17; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3; 1 Cor 11:3; John 3:16; Rom 8:32; Rom 8:3; 1 John 4:9-10; Isa 48:16; Isa 13:1; Isa 50:7-9; Isa 53:10; Heb 2:10; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 1:21; Eph 1:20-23; Phil 2:9-11. 3. Christ is represented as God's servant, or sent messenger, Isa 13:1-7; Isa 49:1-9; Isa 61:12; John 6:27,29. John 10:36.—as a Surety, Heb 7:22; Ps 119:22.—as made under the law, Gal 4:4,9; Rom 8:3-4; made obedient, Matt 3:15; Phil 2:7-8; Heb 5:8; John 8:29; John 10:18; John 14:31; John 17:4; Rom 5:19; Ps 40:7-8; made sin, 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:6,11-12; 1 Pet 2:24; made a curse, Gal 3:13; made a sufferer for us, 1 Pet 1:19; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; Rev 5:9; Eph 5:2,23,25-27; Matt 20:28; Luke 24:26; Isa 53:4-5,10; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Rom 3:24-26; Rom 5:6-11; and as receiving the reward of his work, Ps 2:8; Ps 21:1-7; Ps 22:27-31; Ps 110; Isa 53:10-12; Isa 49:3-9; Luke 24:26; John 17:4-5; Phil 2:7-11; Heb 2:9-10. 4. Solemn confirmations of agreement by oaths and seals are represented as between God and his Son.—To mark the infinite importance, infallible certainty, and the necessary belief of that which he declared, God sware it to Christ, Ps 110:4; Ps 89:3-4,35; Heb 7:17,21,28; and Christ pledged his heart or soul, that he would approach an offended God as an atoning priest and sacrifice, Jer 30:21.—God conferred and Christ accepted, the seals of both dispensations of the covenant of grace. Christ indeed did this in obedience to his Father's law,—and as a solemn avowal of his fellowship with the visible church, and of his readiness and cheerfulness in his work,—and as a mean of exciting and strengthening the graces of his manhood. But these seals were also confirmations of the engagement between him and his Father, relative to the redemption of man.—Thus, in circumcision, God signified and sealed to Christ, that he acknowledged him the promised seed of Abraham, in whom men should be blessed;—that through his being cut off by blood-shedding and death, his mystical body should be preserved and admitted to fellowship with God;—and that they should derive their spiritual circumcision from him, Gen 22:18; Gen 17:10-14; Col 2:11-13. By receiving circumcision, Christ avowed himself a debtor to fulfil the whole law of God, Gal 5:3, and that, to preserve us and procure our fellowship with God, he was ready to endure bloody sufferings and death, as our Head, and flesh of our flesh, Ps 40:6-8; John 8:21,23-30.—In baptism, God solemnly acknowledged Christ as acceptable to him in his person and office,—he secured his furnishing him with all the fulness of the Spirit for himself and his people,—and signified that in due time he should be delivered from, and lifted above all waters of trouble, Matt 3:15-17, and Christ avowed his readiness to plunge himself into the depths of divine wrath, in the full assurance of his Father's support under, and deliverance from it, Matt 3:15; Isa 50:7,9; Luke 12:50; Matt 20:22.—In granting the passover to Christ, God solemnly acknowledged him his Lamb without spot, 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; Isa 53:7, and that by his death, and the application of it to men, deliverance and comfort should be secured for all his spiritual seed, Isa 53:10-12; Heb 9:28; Exod 12; Deut 16; Num 9.—In eating it, Christ avowed his immediate readiness to undergo the most tremendous suffering and death, for procuring his people's salvation, Ps 40:7-8; John 18:11; Luke 22:15.—In Christ's partaking of the holy supper, God sealed to him, that by his death, he should be the eternal nourishment and comfort of his people; that his sufferings and their virtue should be solemnly remembered and experienced among his people on earth till the end of time, and in heaven for ever, Isa 53:10-12; Ps 45:17; Ps 22:27-31. And Christ solemnly avowed his intention to enter immediately on his last sufferings and death, and signified his unition of his people into one mystical body with himself, Matt 26:26; 1 Cor 10:16-17.
Thus the party on heaven's side is God essentially considered, in the person of the Father as sustaining the majesty and authority of the Godhead. He is to be here viewed, 1. As highly offended with man's sin, Ps 14:2-3; Ps 5:4-6; Jer 44:4; Hab 1:13. 2. As purposing to manifest the exceeding riches of his grace in the redemption of a part of mankind, 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; Ps 136:23; Jer 31:3,20. 3. As infinitely just and holy, who cannot but give sin its due recompence, and cannot save sinners, but in a way of magnifying his law, satisfying his justice, and vindicating his holiness, Gen 18:25; Deut 32:4; Ps 11:5-7; Exod 34:7; Isa 5:16; Isa 42:21; Matt 5:18.
The Son of God is the party contractor on man's side, 1 Tim 2:5-6; Isa 7:14; Isa 9:6. He was considered, 1. As a person of infinite perfection, having in himself sufficient wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, for the marvellous and arduous work of our redemption, Ps 89:19; Isa 9:6; Rev 1:4; Phil 2:6; Zech 13:7. 2. As our rightful proprietor, who might save us, if he pleased, and who had a tender regard and compassion to the work of his hands, Ps 100:3; Rom 9:20-23; Isa 43:21; Isa 54:5. 3. As a public head and representative of all his elect of mankind, as his spiritual seed, Eph 1:3-4,6-7; 2 Tim 1:9; Ps 89:3-4; Isa 53:10-12.
That it was made with him as a Representative of his spiritual seed is evident. 1. All these covenants, which were typical or emblematical of it, were made with parents as representatives of their descendants,—as the covenant of preservation from floods with Noah, Gen 9:9; the covenant of peculiar friendship and relation with Abraham, Gen 17:7; the covenant of priesthood with Phinehas, Num 25:12-13; the covenant of royalty with David, 2 Sam 7:11-19; the covenant of possession of Canaan, and peculiar relation to God, with Israel, Exod 19:5-6; Exod 24; Deut 5:2; Deut 29:11,15. 2. Christ is, in a peculiar manner, compared with Adam our representative in the covenant of works,—with respect to his connection with his elect members, Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49. 3. Christ and his spiritual seed are called by the same name of Israel, Isa 49:3; Rom 9:6; Gal 6:16; Isa 45:17; Isa 44:23. Jacob, Ps 24:6; Isa 41:14. Christ, 1 Cor 12:12; Gal 3:16; which plainly infers, that he is their head and they his members, Eph 5:30; Eph 4:13,15-16; Col 1:18; Col 2:19. 4. The promises of this covenant respecting men were all made to Christ, Gal 3:16-17, and before any of them existed, Titus 1:2; 2 Tim 1:9. And hence they are sometimes directed to another person than them, Heb 8:9-12. Nay, the first promise was published in a threatening directed to Satan, Gen 3:15. 5. Christ was the Surety of this covenant, Heb 7:22; Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15; Ps 119:122. And hence, the fulfilling the condition of it was exacted from him instead of the represented covenantees, Isa 53:4-12; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2,25-27; Matt 20:28; 1 Pet 1:19; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; Rev 5:9.
It was necessary that this covenant should be made with the Son of God, as our representative, 1. That the infinite love and mercy of God might have an early vent, even from all eternity, while none of those that were chosen to everlasting life had begun to exist, Jer 30:21; Jer 31:3; Titus 1:2; 2 Tim 1:9; Prov 8:23-30. Even then Christ became their everlasting Father and their Husband, to whom they were married by proxy, Isa 9:6; John 17:6. 2. Unless this covenant had been made with a divine person as our representative, it could not have been made at all. They, whose salvation was intended in it, could only be viewed as weak and wicked,—as nothing but enmity and rebellion against God, so that they could fulfil no conditions of life, Rom 8:3,7-8; Jer 17:9; Ps 14:1-4; Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3; Matt 15:19; Mark 7:21-23. Meanwhile, the law had raised its terms to perfect obedience, and infinite satisfaction for sin, which none but a divine person could perform, Gal 3:10,13; Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:4; Heb 9:22. 3. It was thus made, that it might be to us a covenant of exceedingly rich and absolutely free grace, Eph 2:7-9; Eph 1:6-8; Rom 4:4,16; Rom 5:20-21; Rom 3:24. 4. That righteousness and life might be communicated to us, in as compendious a manner as sin and death were by the covenant of works, and thus the perfections of God justified in his entering into a covenant of life for us with Adam as our representative, Rom 5:15-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49. 5. That the promises of this covenant might be sure to all the elect, Rom 4:16.—That mercy might be built up for ever, and God's faithfulness established in the heavens, it was necessary that the representative should be a mighty one, who could not fail, nor be discouraged, nor be seduced by Satan, Ps 89:2,19,22,28-29,33,36.
The party contracted for in this covenant, were persons of mankind chosen by God to everlasting life. 1. Only they that were chosen in Christ, are blessed in him, Eph 1:3-4. In their election he and they are considered as one body, of which he is the head, and they the members, Heb 2:11; Isa 42:1,6; Eph 5:23,30. 2. All those whom Christ represented become heavenly men, 1 Cor 15:47-49; Col 3:1-4; Eph 1:4; Eph 2:6. 3. Those for whom he undertook are represented as his spiritual seed, in due time begotten again in their regeneration, Gal 3:16; Ps 89:3-4; Ps 22:30-31; Isa 53:10-11; James 1:18; 1 Pet 1:2-3. 4. Those whom he represented are God's spiritual Israel, Rom 9:6; Gal 6:16; Heb 2:16. In this representation these persons are considered, 1. As sinners, lost and undone in themselves, by the breach of the covenant of works, Hos 13:9; Luke 19:10; Matt 18:11; Matt 9:12-13; Rom 5:6,8,10. 2. As altogether unable to help themselves, Rom 5:6; Rom 8:7-8; 2 Cor 3:5; John 15:5; Jer 13:23; Eph 2:1; Col 2:13. 3. As, in the sovereign purpose of God, distinguished from the rest of the world, Matt 20:23; 2 Tim 2:19; John 17:6,12; Eph 1:4; 1 Thess 5:9. 4. As objects of the redeeming love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, John 17:23; John 17:6; John 13:18; John 15:15-16; Eph 5:21,25; John 4:9-10,19; John 3:1.
It was therefore necessary, that, in representing them, Christ should not only bear the general character of Mediator, but that, in particular, he should be, 1. Our Kinsman-Redeemer, Job 19:25; Isa 48:17; that he might marry the widowed human nature and the holy law, and raise up to them an offspring of good persons and works, Luke 3:38; Gen 3:15; Heb 2:11-16; Matt 3:15; Luke 24:26; Rom 7:4; Ps 22:30-31; John 12:24;—might deliver us from the slavery of the broken law, of sin, Satan, and the world, Gal 4:4-5; Gal 3:13; Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:2; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Titus 2:14; Heb 2:14-15; 2 Tim 2:25-26; Isa 49:24-26; Gal 1:4; Gal 6:14.—might buy back our mortgaged inheritance of eternal happiness, 1 Thess 5:10; Eph 1:14; John 10:10; Rev 5:9.—and avenge our blood upon sin, Satan, and death, our murderers, John 8:44; Heb 2:14; 1 Cor 15:56; Rom 5:12; Dan 9:24; 1 John 3:5,8; Hos 13:14; Isa 25:8. 2. Our Surety;—not indeed a Surety for God to us, it being impossible to render his engagements by promise more certain, Heb 6:17-18;—nor a Surety, merely bound to see our debt to the law and justice of God paid,—or bound together with us the principal debtors,—it being impossible for us to do any thing but increase our debt, Rom 5:6; Rom 8:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 3:9-18; 2 Pet 2:14;—nor a Surety for our faith, repentance, and new obedience, these, as privileges, belonging to the promises of the covenant, for the fulfilment of which the Father is engaged, Ps 22:27-31;—nor can we suppose Christ a Surety for our performance of these as duties, without admitting them into the condition of this covenant, and so obscuring, or rather undermining the grace of it. But he is our Surety, who undertook by himself alone, to pay our whole debt to the broken law, and offended justice of God, Gal 4:4-5; Matt 5:17-18; Matt 20:28; Matt 3:15; Isa 53:6,10; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 4:25; Rom 5:19; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; Luke 24:26; Eph 5:2,25; 1 Thess 5:10; Titus 2:14; Rev 5:9. 3. Our Sacrificing Priest. Having engaged as Surety to satisfy the penalty of the broken law for his elect sinners, it became necessary, that as a Priest, he should offer himself in sacrifice to God, for the atonement of their guilt, Heb 7:22,26; Heb 5:1; Heb 9:14,28; Heb 10:5,10,14; Isa 53; Ps 22; Ps 69; Eph 5:2.
In the making of this covenant of grace, 1. The Son of God was constituted the second Adam, and agreed to assume our nature, and become a true man; and hence a substantial Mediator between God and men, capable of subjecting himself to the law binding on us, and to pay our debt of love to God and men,—and of suffering for sin in that very nature which had sinned, Ps 40:6-8; Gen 28:12; John 1:51;—in the view of which he was constituted an official Mediator, Head, and Representative of his elect, Isa 42:1,6; Ps 89:19; 1 Cor 15:47; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15. 2. All the particular persons of mankind chosen to everlasting life were, in a manner becoming Jehovah, given to Christ by the Father, accepted by him, and enrolled in his book of life, John 17:6,9,12; Eph 1:4; Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; Rev 13:8; Rev 21:27; Luke 10:20; Isa 4:3. 3. The terms, and every thing relative to the salvation of these persons, were fully settled; what ransom should be paid, and in what form and time;—what furniture for, assistance in, and reward of his surety-service, Christ should have from God the Father;—and in fine, every circumstance of time, manner, or degree, in which grace or glory should be bestowed on him, and on every one of his members, Isa 53:10-12; Isa 49:1-12; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 22:27-31; Ps 139:16; Ps 2:6-9.—It was agreed that in executing their plan of our redemption, the Father should act the part of a sovereign Master and Judge, with respect to the Son, and the persons to be saved by him, Isa 50:4-9; Isa 52:13-15; Isa 42:1-7; Isa 49:1-9; Heb 2:10; Zech 13:7;— that the Son should act the part of a Mediator,—of an humbled and honorary servant to his Father, 1 Tim 2:5-6; Isa 49:3; Isa 52:13-15; Isa 53; Isa 61:1-3; Ps 110; Ps 72; Ps 119; Ps 2;—and that the Holy Ghost should act as the publisher of the covenant-declaration, 2 Pet 1:21; 1 Pet 1:11-12; 2 Sam 23:2.—the furnisher, assistant, and rewarder of Christ, Isa 11:2-4; Isa 61:1-3; Ps 14:7; the witness of Christ's and his Father's fulfilment of this covenant,—and as an effectual applier of the blessings of it to elect men, Heb 2:5; Acts 2-19; John 14:16-17,26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14.
When condition is improperly taken, and signifies no more than what particular duties as performed must, in the order of nature, precede the enjoyment of particular promised benefits, many things may be called conditions; for, holiness must precede eternal happiness, Heb 12:14, true repentance of sin must precede God's fatherly pardon of it, Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:9. And as faith is particularly required in the public dispensation of this covenant by the gospel, Acts 16:31; Mark 16:16, and is the appointed instrument by which God communicates, and we receive the blessings of it, John 1:12; Isa 45:22; Matt 11:28; Rom 5:1-2; Eph 2:8, it is more frequently called the condition of it, by divines: and indeed might be called a condition of connection in it. But when condition is taken properly for that which, when fulfilled, gives the covenanters full right to claim the promised reward, nothing but the finished righteousness of Jesus Christ, by which all the demands of the broken covenant of works are fully satisfied, can be allowed as the condition of this covenant. 1. Christ took upon himself the whole debt of his elect world,—all that of which the payment secures them from eternal death, Rom 6:23; 1 Thess 5:10; Matt 20:28; 1 Pet 3:18; Rev 5:9, and entitles them to eternal life, Matt 19:17; Matt 3:15; Matt 5:17-18; Rom 5:19,21.—Nothing can therefore remain to be fulfilled by them, as the proper condition of this covenant, Dan 9:24; 2 Cor 5:21. 2. It hath been proved, that the perfections of God's nature required, that the condition of the broken covenant of works should be the condition of any covenant he could make for the recovery of fallen men. Unless his truth and righteousness fail, the penalty must be executed, Gen 2:17. Sin must be expiated to the full satisfaction of his infinite majesty and perfection, which can by no means clear the guilty, Exod 34:7. Unless the holy commandment be honoured with perfect obedience, no man can enter into life, Gal 3:12; Matt 5:18; Matt 19:17.—Nothing but the righteousness of the Son of God can answer to these high demands, Matt 3:15; Rom 8:3-4. 3. The Scripture plainly represents Christ's fulfilment of all righteousness answerable to the precept and penalty of the broken law or covenant of works, as the proper condition of the eternal happiness of his spiritual seed, Isa 53:10-11; Luke 22:20; Matt 3:15; Matt 20:28; Luke 24:26; Heb 2:10; Phil 2:8; Phil 3:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 4:25; Rom 5:10,15-21; Rom 3:24-26; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; 2 Pet 1:1; Rev 5:9; Eph 5:2; Titus 2:14; 1 Thess 5:10. 4. Upon his righteousness alone believers found their plea for, and hopes of eternal salvation, Eph 1:6-7; Col 1:14; Phil 3:8-9; Rom 3:20-22; Rom 5:21; Gal 2:16; Gal 5:4, and Christ himself founds his continual intercession, John 17:4; 1 John 2:1-2; Rev 8:3-4. 5. Only the righteousness of Christ, our Surety, as the condition of this covenant, can render eternal life a debt to the covenanter or covenantees, Rom 4:4-6, and by it, our eternal redemption is a debt to Christ, founded on his merit, which is both intrinsic and pactional, he being at once the most high God, and the fulfiller of the condition of this covenant made with him, Isa 53:10-12; Ps 40:6-8; Acts 20:28. 6. As our faith, repentance, and new obedience can, by no means, answer the demands of the broken law, so, instead of being proper conditions of this covenant of grace, they are all inestimable benefits promised in it, upon the footing of its fulfilled condition, Phil 1:29; Ps 22:27,31; Acts 5:31. They suppose every person in whom they are, already within that covenant,—none of them being performable under the curse or condemning covenant of works, Gal 2:19; Gal 3:10; 1 Cor 15:56; Rom 7:4; Rom 6:14; Rom 8:2.—Being duties performed, not under the law, as a covenant, but under it, as a rule of life, they can have no pactional merit, but are founded on union to, and fellowship with Christ, interest in his righteousness, and complete claim to eternal life, Luke 1:74-75; Heb 12:28.—Even faith can no more properly be called the condition of the covenant of grace, than a child's receiving and wearing of his Father's wages of service, can be called the condition which entitles to such wages, and renders the master bound to pay them, Isa 53:10-12; Heb 2:10-16; Ps 22:30-31. 7. The covenant of grace excludes all boasting, Rom 3:27; Rom 5:20-21; Titus 3:3,5. But it could not do so, if our faith, repentance, and new obedience, were the proper conditions of it, as the weakest acting of any of these graces under the curse of the law and dominion of sin, would be more ground of boasting, than Adam's complete fulfilment of the law, in his state of innocence, would have been.
As the perfections of God required, that this condition of the surety righteousness of Jesus Christ should be stated from the broken covenant of works, Matt 5:17-18; Rom 8:3-4; Gal 4:4-5, it necessarily included, 1. The holiness of his manhood absolutely perfect in parts and degrees, and retained till the end of his humbled life, Heb 7:26; Luke 1:35. Man, under the covenant of works, being indispensably bound to retain that perfection of nature which had been given him in his creation, duly improved and strengthened, it behoved Christ to afford it, in the room of those that are saved by him. To suppose that the law of God did not require this holiness of nature, is to suppose, that want of original righteousness, and hence even the contrary corruption of nature, is no sin: for where no law is, there can be no transgression, Rom 4:15; Rom 5:13. Nor can the admitting Christ's holiness of nature into his surety righteousness to be imputed to us, any more render our holiness of nature unnecessary, than his obedience of life can render our holy obedience unnecessary. Our holiness of nature is an important part of our happiness purchased by Christ's holiness of nature and life, Rom 5:10,15-21. 2. The holy obedience of his life carried to the highest perfection in parts and degrees, and continued till his death, John 8:29; Heb 5:8; Matt 3:15; Matt 5:17-18; Phil 2:8; Ps 40:8; Gal 3:10,12; Rom 10:4-5; Rom 5:19; Matt 19:17; Lev 18:5; Deut 27:26. Christ's retaining his holiness of nature, and his persevering in this holy obedience, was infinitely difficult, as he all along continued under the curse of God in our stead, Gal 3:13; 1 Cor 15:56. 3. Full satisfaction to the penalty of the broken law incurred by man's sin, in voluntarily bearing the very same punishment which we deserved, in all the essential ingredients of it.—In, 1. His being subjected to legal death, or the curse due to us for our sin, Gal 3:13; Deut 21:23. Hence God was legally wroth with him, Ps 89:38; Ps 22:1-2. He was consigned into the hands of his revenging justice, that it might demand full satisfaction from him for all the sins which were imputed to him, without any pity or abatement, Zech 13:7; Isa 53; Rom 8:32.—and was set up as the butt or mark of all the arrows and billows of his Father's almighty wrath, John 18:11; Ps 69:1-2,14-15. 2. The infinite execution of this curse or condemning sentence of the broken law, upon his soul, body, and person, in every thing comprehended in that temporal or spiritual death which flows from the curse itself, Gen 2:17; Gal 3:10,13; Luke 24:26; Isa 50:6; Isa 52:14. Isa 49:7; Isa 53:2-12; Ps 22:1-21; Ps 69:1-21; Ps 40:2,6-8,12-13,17; John 12:27; Acts 20:28; Heb 2:10; Heb 5:7; Heb 13:12; Rev 5:9; Eph 5:2; 1 Pet 1:19; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; 2 Cor 5:21; Matt 20:28; Matt 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 5; John 8; John 10; John 18-19—The reign of indwelling lusts, the pollution of sin, and the eternity of punishment, not proceeding from the curse of the law in itself, did not belong to this punishment, when inflicted on an infinitely holy and worthy person. His infinite power and holiness prevented all infection from sin, 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:7. The infinite dignity of his person made his temporary sufferings of infinite value answerable to the demands of the law, John 18:11; Acts 20:28; Rom 1:17; Rom 5:17-18; 2 Cor 5:21. And being the only Son of God, who had come voluntarily under this curse for others,—it did not debar him from his Father's necessary support or occasional smiles, Isa 42:1; John 3:34; Matt 3:16-17; Matt 17:1-5; Matt 4:11; Luke 10:21; Luke 22:43; John 12:28.
Being made with a person infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, who could not fail to fulfil whatever he had undertaken, this covenant left no room for a penalty in case of breach, Ps 89:19,22; Isa 9:6; Isa 42:4; Heb 7:25. The condition of this covenant being fulfilled by Christ, no proper penalty or punishment to their hurt can be inflicted on any of those represented by him. The chastisements which they suffer are indeed annexed to their sins, to promote their destruction,—but they proceed from God's redeeming love, and are purchased by Jesus' blood, as they are connected with, and ever beneficial to their persons and natures, Rom 8:1,33-39; Ps 89:30-35; Ps 119:67,71; Heb 12:6-11; Rev 3:19; Ps 94:12; Prov 3:12.
But the promise of this covenant is of infinite importance in it, and hence it is called the covenant of promise, Eph 2:12. 1. To usward it is one continued promise, or cluster, or constellation of promises. Not one duty is required of us in the whole of its dispensation, but God in it promiseth to work it in us, accept it from us, and reward us for it, Ezek 36:26-27,31; Isa 60:7; Rom 15:16; Isa 3:10; 1 Cor 15:58.—Nay, even Christ's fulfilment of the condition comes to us in a promise, Gen 3:15; Dan 9:24. 2. The condition of it was, and is attended with many promises to Christ. His fulfilment of this condition flowed from his receiving his father's promised furniture and assistance, and issued in his reception of his promised acceptance and reward, Isa 42:1-6; Isa 50:4,7,9; Isa 52:13-15; Isa 49:1-9; Isa 53:10-12; Ps 22:27-31; Ps 72; Ps 110.
In their immediate application, some promises of the covenant of grace respect Christ, as the head of his elect, as their object, and others of them respect the elect themselves. But such is that oneness and relation between them, that every promise fulfilled on him, terminates in their advantage, and every promise fulfilled on them, terminates in his glory and joy, Ps 22:27-31; Isa 53:10-12; Isa 42:1-7; Isa 49:1-12.—The promises, which are immediately fulfilled on Christ himself, were made chiefly, if not solely, to him.—Of these, the promises of furniture for his work, in having an holy manhood formed for him, and the Holy Ghost plentifully given him, being fulfilled antecedently to his performance of his humbled service, have their foundation in the sovereign love of God along with our election, Heb 10:5; Isa 49:1-9; Isa 42:1-6; Isa 61:1; Isa 11:2-4; Isa 50:4,7,9; Ps 89:21; Matt 3:16; John 3:34.—But the promises of God's acceptance of his service, including the promise of his resurrection from the dead, Ps 16:10; Heb 13:20; and the promise of his justification in the Sprit,—in which he received an ample discharge of all the debt which he had engaged to pay for his people, Isa 50:8; 1 Tim 3:16; Rom 4:25; Heb 9:28; John 16:10;—and the promises of God's rewarding him for it,—including a mediatorial interest in God as his God and portion,—heirship of him, and all things in and with him, Ps 89:26-27; Heb 1-2; Rom 8:17; John 20:17; Ps 45:7; Ps 16:11;—an exaltation to be God's prime minister, and great manager of all things relative to the church, Acts 2:36; Ps 110:1-7; Ps 72; Ps 21; Ps 22:27-29; Isa 49:8; Isa 52:13; Dan 7:14; Matt 28:18; Matt 11:27; John 3:35; John 5:22; Eph 1:22; Phil 2:8-11; Isa 9:6-7; Isa 32:1;—a spiritual seed, numerous as the stars of heaven, and blessed in him to the highest, for ever, Isa 53:10-12; Ps 89:4,29,36; Ps 22:30; Ps 72:17; Isa 45:17;—and complete victory over all his and his people's enemies, Ps 110:1-2,5-6; Ps 89:23; Ps 22:27-28; Ps 45:5-6; Mic 4:3; Mic 2:13; Mic 5:4-5; Zech 9:9-10; Zech 12:9; Zech 14:12; Ps 18; Ps 21; Ps 72; depend on his fulfilment of the condition of the covenant.
All the promises which have their immediate fulfilment on the elect were primarily made to Christ himself. 1. The Scriptures plainly affirm this, Gal 3:14,16-17; Ps 89:4,28-36. 2. Christ is the great and primary heir of all things, divine promises not excepted, Heb 1:2; Ps 89:27; John 20:17; Rom 8:17. 3. These promises were made to be fulfilled upon condition of his fulfilling all righteousness, and so contain part of the reward promised to him, Isa 53:10-12; Ps 22; Ps 69; Heb 2:8-10; Heb 12:2; Phil 2:8-11. 4. They were made, and the grace contained in them given before the world began, while not one of the elect existed, Titus 1:2; 2 Tim 1:9.—It therefore follows, 1. That no conditional promises of this covenant entail any spiritual benefit upon any person, but such as are united to Christ, and clothed with his righteousness, which is the condition of it, Isa 1:19; Isa 3:10; 1 Cor 15:58; Rev 14:13; Rev 22:14. 2. That the very beginnings of grace are conveyed into elect persons in promises, 1 Pet 1:23; James 1:18; Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26; Deut 30:6. 3. That spiritual union with Christ gives one an actual interest in, and begun possession of all the promises, as an heir thereof in Christ, 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 1:20. 4. That we ought to plead the promises only in the name of Christ, John 14:13-14; John 16:23-24; Gen 12:3; Gen 22:18; Ps 72:17; Eph 1:3. 5. That we ought never to dread the failure of any promises. For, however much we have provoked the Lord, Christ, to whom they were primarily made, never gave him any provocation to break them, but an infinite and everlasting ground and cause to fulfil them.
The promises immediately respecting the elect, in general comprehend eternal life, that is, all true happiness in time and through all eternity, and all the means of it, Titus 1:2; 1 John 2:25; Isa 45:17.—It might be viewed, as including a death to the broken law,—to sin,—and to the world, Rom 7:4; Rom 8:2; Rom 6:2-14; Col 3:3-4; Col 2:20; Gal 1:4; Gal 2:19-20; Gal 6:14.—and an endless life,—from a reconciled God as its cause,—on him as its upholding support,—with him as a gracious companion,—and to him as the highest and last end of it, Ps 27:1; Ps 142:5; Ps 73:24,26; Col 3:3-4; Rom 7:4; Gal 2:19; 1 Cor 6:20; 1 Cor 10:31.—Or, this eternal life may be considered in three different periods of it;—before the elect's spiritual union with Christ;—between the moment of their union to him and their death; and in their eternal state. In the first of which periods, eternal life is on its way towards them, but they have neither title to, nor possession of it, in their own persons. In the second, they have a full title to eternal life, but no more than imperfect possession of it. In the third, they have the full possession of it, as well as title to it.
But taking all these periods in connection, we may take up the promise of eternal life in the following steps or articles: 1. The promise of security against any thing which tends to hinder their partaking of eternal life;—that they shall be brought into natural life, Isa 53:10. While the curse immediately thrusts them into being, as children of fallen Adam, the promise made to Christ, and to them in him, secretly draws them into life, that they may partake of his redemption;—that notwithstanding many and great dangers, their natural life shall be preserved till the appointed moment of their marriage with Christ, Matt 24:22; Ezek 16:6,8; Isa 65:8.—that no gravestone fixing them under spiritual death shall be laid upon them, in order to their passing over their day of grace,—or, in their committing the unpardonable sin, Mark 3:29;—and that all they meet with, or do, during their alienation from God, by his infinite wisdom, power, and love, shall be managed into occasions or means of promoting their union to Christ, Ezek 20:36-37; Hos 2:6-7,14; Job 33:14-30; Luke 15:11-13; Acts 9:1-18; Acts 22; Acts 26; Philem 10-19; 2 Chron 33:11; John 4:6-29; Luke 23:39-43.—This promise is grafted upon God's promise of preparations furniture, and assistance to Christ, and on that of preserving his body from corruption in the grave, Isa 7:14; Isa 11:2; Ps 16:10.—2. The promise of spiritual union to Christ in the moment of love fixed in God's eternal purpose and covenant, Isa 53:10; Isa 54:5; Hos 2:19-20; Ezek 16:8. This comprehends the promise of the Spirit to convince, allure, apprehend, conquer, and quicken their souls, by shewing them the things of Christ, and working faith in their hearts to receive him, Isa 44:3-5; John 16:7-14; Ps 110:3; Ps 45:4-5; Ezek 36:26-27; Ezek 37:5,9,14; John 6:37,44-45,65; Ps 22:31; Rom 15:12; Isa 11:10; Phil 1:29; Eph 2:4-10. This promise is grafted upon that of God's uniting a real manhood to Christ's divine person, and of his reuniting his soul to his body in his resurrection, Eph 2:5-6; Isa 26:19; Hos 6:2; Phil 3:10; Phil 2:3. The promise of a free, full, irrevocable, and everlasting justification, through their union to Christ as the Lord their righteousness, and the imputation of his fulfilment of the condition of the covenant, to their person,—it being theirs, as the free gift of God offered to them in the gospel, and by virtue of their communion with Christ as their surety and husband, Isa 45:24-25; Isa 53:11; Isa 42:21; Dan 9:24; Rom 5:16-19; Rom 1:17; Rom 3:22; Phil 3:9; 2 Cor 5:21.—This includes all the promises of full and irrevocable pardon of all their sins, past, present, or future, in so far as they are transgressions of the law as a covenant, Heb 8:12; Eph 1:7; John 5:24; Isa 54:9; Isa 1:18; Isa 43:25; Isa 44:22; Jer 50:20;—and of a full and irrevocable acceptance of their persons into a state of favour with God, and of a full title to a real eternal life, begun here in grace, and perfected hereafter in heavenly glory, Eph 1:6; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 45:24-25.—These promises are grafted upon that of a full justification made to Christ, 1 Tim 3:16; Isa 50:8; Rom 4:25; John 16:10. 4. The promises of a new covenant relation to God as their reconciled and reconciling friend, Ezek 37:26; Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:19.—their adopting Father, Hos 1:10; Gal 4:4-5; Rom 5:1-2; John 1:12; 1 John 3:1; 2 Cor 6:18; Jer 3:4,14,19,22.—and as their God,—portion,—and all in all, Exod 20:2; Ps 50:7; Ps 81:8,10; Jer 30:22; Jer 31:33; Ezek 37:23,27; Ezek 11:20; Heb 8:10; Gen 17:7; Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7.—These promises are grafted upon that of the acceptance of Christ and his work, and of his mediatorial interest in God, and heirship of all things, 2 Cor 5:19; Eph 1:6-7; John 20:17; Rom 8:17. 5. The promises of sanctification of their nature and life, Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26-27,29; Ps 110:3; Ps 22:30; 1 Thess 5:23-24.—as proceeding from their union with Christ, 1 Cor 1:2,30; Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:26-27. Gal 6:15.— from their justification by his blood, Heb 8:10,12; Heb 13:12.—and from their relation to God as their Friend, Father, and God, 1 Thess 5:23.—Rom 8:29-30; Gal 4:6; Gal 5:17,24.—Ezek 16:8-9; Jer 32:38-40. As they have in Christ a complete treasure of wisdom and grace, ready to be communicated to them, Col 2:10; John 1:14,16,—there proceeds from him as manifested to them, and from his Spirit dwelling in their heart by faith, a predominant measure of every spiritual grace, issuing in their gradual death to the love and practice of every sin, and in their living to righteousness, performing an obedience to God's law, perfect in all its parts,—tending towards perfection in degrees, and acceptable to God as their reconciled Father in Christ, 2 Cor 3:18; Col 2:10-11; Col 3:10-11; Phil 4:13; Jer 17:7-8; Ps 28:7-8.—These promises are grafted upon that of the sanctification of Christ's manhood in the womb, and of his being filled with the Holy Ghost, and upon that of his resurrection from the dead, Phil 3:10-11; Rom 6:1-12; Rom 7:4; Col 2:11-12; John 1:14,16. 6. The promises of their perseverance in their state of union to Christ as their husband, the Lord their righteousness, and their head of influences,—and in their covenant-relation to God in him, Jude 1; Col 3:3; Jer 32:40.—and their possession and exercise of implanted grace, Job 17:9; Prov 4:18.—to promote which, the continued inhabitation and influences of the Holy Ghost are promised, Ezek 36:27; John 14:16-17; John 16:13-14; Isa 27:3; Hos 14:7; Col 2:19.—and renewed fatherly pardons of their daily sins of infirmity, upon their renewed actings of faith and repentance, Jer 33:8; John 13:10; Isa 43:25; John 1:7,9; John 2:1-2; Mic 7:18-19.—These promises are grafted upon those of Christ's perseverance in fulfilling his surety righteousness, Isa 42:4; Ps 89:22; and of the permanent security of his heavenly life, Ps 21:4; John 14:19; Col 3:3-4. 7. The promises of spiritual comfort, which consists in sensible assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Isa 40:1-2; Isa 44:23; Isa 49:10; Isa 61:2; Isa 57:18.—These are grafted upon that of Christ's being made full of joy with his Father's countenance, Ps 16:11; Ps 17:15; Acts 2:28; Rom 8:29. 8. The promise of temporal benefits, Ezek 36:28-29; Hos 2:18,22; Isa 33:16; 1 Tim 4:8; 1 Tim 6:8; Ps 37; Ps 112; Ps 127-128;—including new-covenant protection from all things really evil, Ps 91:3-13; Zech 2:5; Ps 1:3-4; Ps 41:1-4; Job 5:19-22; Isa 49:11; Ps 121:6; Rev 7:16; and provision of all good things, as proceeding through Christ from the redeeming love of God, Ps 34:10; Ps 84:11; Ps 85:12; Ps 38:3,19; Prov 3:2-24; Matt 6:30-33; Isa 65:21-23. Rom 8:32. This promise is founded on that of Christ's heirship of all things, Ps 89:26-27; Heb 1:2; 1 Cor 3:22-23. 9. The promise of an happy death,—death disarmed of its sting, Hos 13:14; Ps 23:4.—death sanctified and sweetened, 1 Cor 3:22; Phil 1:21,23; Luke 2:29-30; 2 Cor 5:1-5.—and at last destroyed in the resurrection, Isa 26:19; Isa 25:8; 1 Cor 15:54. This promise is grafted upon Christ's safety in, and victory over death, and his resurrection from it, Ps 16:10; John 11:25; Isa 26:19; 1 Cor 15. 10. The promise of an honourable judgment at the last day, Ps 50:1-6; Ps 96:13; Ps 98:9; Matt 25:31-40. This is founded upon that of Christ's being prime minister of heaven, and having dominion over all, 1 Thess 4:15-17; Col 3:4. 11. The promise of eternal happiness, beginning in their soul at death, Isa 35:10; Isa 57:2; 2 Cor 5:1-7; Phil 1:23; Luke 23:43; Rev 14:13; and completed in both soul and body at the last day, Isa 51:11; Isa 53:10; Dan 12:2-3; John 5:28-29.—This promise is grafted upon that of Christ's exaltation and perpetual sitting at the Father's right hand, Rev 3:21; Ps 16:11; Ps 110:1,5,7.
From the above hints of the parties, making, and parts of this covenant of grace, it is manifest that it ought never to be splitted into two, as if one covenant of redemption had been made with Christ, and another of grace were made with the elect in their own persons. 1. The Scriptures mention none but two covenants relating to the eternal happiness of men,—of which the covenant of works, which genders to bondage, is one, and therefore one covenant of deliverance must be the other, Gal 4:24.—which two are called the old and the new covenant, Heb 8:6-13; and the law and grace, Rom 11:6; Rom 6:14; and the law of works and the law of faith, Rom 3:27. 2. The blood of Christ is repeatedly called the blood of the covenant, but never—of the covenants, as if it were the condition of a covenant of redemption, and the foundation of a covenant of grace, Exod 24:8; Zech 9:11; Heb 9:20; Heb 10:29; Heb 13:20. This proves that our salvation depends upon none but one covenant; and that Christ and his people obtain their eternal glory by the same covenant. 3. If that, which some plead for as a distinct covenant of redemption, be detached, there remains no proper covenant at all to be made with the elect; but merely a bundle of precious promises, freely giving and conferring upon them the unsearchable riches of Christ: Nor is any thing required as an apparent condition in one promise, that is not absolutely promised in another, Isa 55:1-3; Acts 13:34; Rev 22:17; Ezek 36:25-31; Isa 1:18; Isa 43:24-25; Isa 57:17-18; Jer 3:19; Jer 31:33-34; Heb 8:10-12.
4. There is no reason why the new covenant should be split into two, more than to assert that one covenant of works was made with Adam, and another with his seed, Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22,45-49.
The end of God,—Father,—Son,—and Holy Ghost, in making this covenant of grace, was, 1. To display the glory of his own perfections,—wisdom, power, holiness, justice, and truth,—and especially the exceeding riches of his grace, Isa 49:3; 2 Cor 4:6; Eph 1:6-8; Eph 2:7; Eph 3:20-21; Rom 5:20-21; 1 Pet 4:11. 2. To bring elect men out of an estate of sin and misery into an estate of salvation, Luke 2:10-14; Luke 1:74-75; Hos 13:9; John 3:14-18; Isa 55:2-3,7; Isa 45:17,22-25.
The administration of this covenant of grace, which includes all that is necessary to be done for making the chosen representees partakers of its purchased and promised blessings,—is committed to Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 15:45; Isa 49:3-9; Isa 42:1-7; Isa 61:1-3; Isa 52:13,15; Isa 53:11-12; Mic 5:4-5; Zech 9:9-10; Matt 11:27; Matt 28:18; John 3:35; John 5:22,—who is to administer it for ever, Heb 1:8; Heb 13:8; Luke 1:32-33; Isa 9:7; Isa 45:17; Dan 7:14; Hos 2:19-20; Jer 32:39-41. It is committed to him, 1. For the higher advancement of God's honour,—that he may have no immediate dealing with sinful men, even when perfectly healed; but his holiness, justice, mercy, and love to them, may for ever shine through his Son in their nature, as their Mediator, 2 Cor 4:6; Job 9:33; Ps 84:9. 2. To answer the case, and sweeten the redemption of these sinful men, the whole of their fellowship with God, through time and eternity, being through him, who is both their Brother and their God, John 1:14; John 10:7,9; John 14:6; Eph 2:18; Eph 3:12; Heb 4:14-16; Heb 10:19-22; 1 Pet 2:5; 1 Pet 4:11. 3. As an honorary reward to Christ the Redeemer, that all his ransomed millions, and all the concerns of their eternal salvation, may for ever depend on him, Phil 2:7-11; Eph 1:20-22; Isa 53:10-12; Isa 52:13,15; Ps 21:5; Ps 89:27; Ps 72:17,19.
The covenant of grace is, in many things, administered indefinitely to men in general, without any consideration of them either as elect or as reprobates. 1. God's grant of Christ, as his ordinance for salvation to men, is general and unlimited, John 3:14-17; Num 21:8. 2. Christ's commission from his Father for administering this covenant is general and unlimited, Isa 61:1-3; Isa 49:1-9; Matt 11:27; Matt 28:18; John 3:35; John 17:2. 3. Christ executes his commission respecting sinful men, in the most general and unlimited manner, Prov 1:22; Prov 8:4; Prov 9:4-5; Isa 45:22; Isa 55:1-7; Matt 11:28; Matt 22:4-5; Matt 28:19; Mark 6:15-16; Luke 14:23, Rev 22:17. 4. Though Christ effectually save none but his elect, Eph 5:23,—he is by divine appointment, grant, and office, the Saviour of the world, fit for all sinful men, and to whom they are all warranted by God to apply for salvation, John 4:42; 1 John 4:14. His salvation is a common salvation, Jude 3, and his gospel is grace, which bringeth salvation in offer to all men that hear it, Titus 2:11; 1 Tim 1:15. 5. If Christ's administration of the new covenant were not thus general and indefinite, some men would have no more warrant to hear the gospel, or believe in and receive him for their salvation, than devils have, contrary to Mark 16:15-16; John 7:37-38; John 6:37; Rev 22:17; Prov 1:22; Prov 8:4; Prov 9:4-5; Isa 55:1-7; Isa 45:22; Isa 46:12-13.—Nor could they be condemned for their unbelief, according to John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16; Rev 22:8; Prov 8:36.—The foundation of God's general grant of Christ in the gospel as his ordinance to men for their salvation, and of his general administration of the covenant, is, 1. Christ's fulfilling the condition of the covenant, being infinitely valuable in itself, is, intrinsically considered, a sufficient ransom for all men, Acts 20:28; Acts 3:15; 1 Cor 2:8; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 2:6-8. 2. Being fulfilled in an human nature equally related or similar to all men, it is equally answerable to all their needs. 3. All men, indefinitely considered, have in them the moral characters of those for whom Christ died, being unjust, ungodly, sinners, enemies to God, etc. 1 Pet 3:18; Rom 5:6-10; and the characters with which the absolute promises of the covenant directly correspond,—being stouthearted and far from righteousness,—godless,—sinful,—lost,—self-destroyed, etc. Isa 46:12-13; Heb 8:10-12; Luke 19:10; Hos 13:9; Jer 3:1-2,5,14.
The ends for which Christ administers this covenant are, 1. The bringing of sinful men into the bonds of it, Isa 55:3-5; Isa 49:6; Matt 23:37; Luke 14:22-23. 2. The right management of those that are instated in it, while they remain in this world, 1 Pet 2:25; Isa 40:11; Ezek 34; Ezek 37; in justifying them, Matt 9:2,6; adopting them, John 1:12; sanctifying them, John 13:8; Acts 5:31; Eph 5:26; caring for them, 1 Pet 5:7; going with them, Ezek 46:10; and governing them, Ps 2:6; Ezek 34:23-24; Ezek 37:24.—And, as he, in his intercession, deals with God for them, John 17:9,12-24; Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34,—they must receive all their orders from God through him, Exod 23:21; Deut 18:18-20; Matt 17:5; Rev 1:1,3; Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:21. 3. The completing their eternal happiness in heaven, Eph 5:26-27; Jude 24; finishing their faith, Heb 12:2; carrying them safe through death, Ps 23:4; Rev 1:18; bringing them to glory, Heb 2:10; John 14:2-3;
and giving them their heavenly throne and crown, Rev 3:21; 2 Tim 4:8.—Hence, it is manifest that the elect only are the objects of the more special and important administration of this covenant; and that it is administered to others only in order to promote their salvation, 1 Cor 12; 1 Cor 3:21,23; Eph 4:11-13.
In the form and order of his administration of this covenant, 1. Christ, as a trustee, receives from God all the purchased and promised blessings of it, for the behoof of his sinful brethren of mankind. 2. Having them all in his hand, he, as a testator, bequeaths them to sinful men. 3. As executor of his own testament, he, as their interceding Priest, instructing Prophet, and liberal and almighty King, confers his legacies on his elect.
I. Christ, being by his Father constituted the Trustee of the covenant of grace, hath all the blessings of it lodged in his hand, Col 1:19; John 3:35; Matt 11:27; Ps 68:18. This was done from eternity; and hence Christ was ready to begin his administration on that very day on which Adam fell, Gen 3:5-15. But the solemnity of his investiture with that high office, was delayed till his resurrection and ascension, when he had fully paid the price of the benefits committed to him, Ps 68:18; Matt 28:18. The blessings committed to his trust are, 1. The unseen guard of the covenant, or preservation of his elect in their unconverted state, Ezek 16:6; Isa 65:8. 2. The uniting and quickening spirit of the covenant, Rev 3:1; Rom 8:2; John 5:25-26. 3. The justifying righteousness of the covenant, Jer 23:6; Jer 33:16; Isa 45:24-25; Isa 54:17; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 61:10; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21. 4. The covenant-relation to God as a Friend, Father, and God, Col 2:9-10; Eph 2:14; 2 Cor 5:19; Mic 5:5, Ps 89:26-27; John 1:12; John 20:17; Rom 8:17. 5. The sanctifying influences of the covenant, Col 1:19,22; Col 2:2,6-7,10-13,19; John 1:14,16; John 6:63; 1 Cor 1:30; Acts 5:31. 6. The establishing grace of the covenant, Jude 1; John 14:19; Col 3:3; Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 1:21; Col 2:7; Matt 16:18. 7. The consolation of the covenant, Isa 51:7,12; Luke 2:25; John 16:33; 2 Cor 1:5; 2 Thess 2:16-17. 8. The temporal good things of the covenant, Matt 28:18; Matt 11:27; Hag 2:8; Ps 24:1; 1 Cor 10:25-26. 9. All fulness of power over death and the grave, Rev 1:18; Hos 13:14; Isa 25:8. 10. The everlasting and consummate happiness of the covenant, Isa 45:17; Heb 7:25; John 10:28; John 17:2.—Or, in other words, all the light, life, liberty, honour, etc. of the covenant are lodged in his hand, John 1:9; John 9:5; Luke 2:32; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 5:11,20; John 8:12,36; Rom 8:2; 2 Cor 3:17; Prov 8:18-21; Col 1:18,27-28; Col 2:10,19.
II. Having, for the behoof of sinful men, received these blessings into his hand, Christ, as a dying Saviour or testator, bequeaths them to them in the form of a latter will confirmed by his death, Luke 22:28-29; Heb 9:15,17: 1 Cor 11:25; Matt 26:28.—As none of his legacies were needful before Adam had fallen, Christ did not till then commence a Testator, and on that very day, in paradise, he began to form and publish his testament; and for about forty-one hundred years after, he gradually enlarged it by a more clear and particular bequeathment of his benefits. Both parts of his testament were at first delivered in words, and afterwards committed to writing, in our Bibles, 2 Pet 1:21; Rom 15:4; Heb 2:3; Luke 1:3; John 20:31, etc.—The Old Testament, published before his coming in the flesh, is the declaration of a dying Saviour, freely bequeathing his unsearchable riches to sinful men,—confirmed by his typical death, in innumerable sacrifices and oblations, and sealed by the sacraments of Circumcision and the Passover, Heb 9:20; Rom 4:11; 1 Cor 5:7; Luke 16:16. The New Testament, published after his coming in the flesh, is his dying declaration, in which he freely bequeaths his unsearchable riches of grace and glory to sinful men,—confirmed by his personal death, and sealed by the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, 2 Cor 3:6; 1 Cor 15:3; Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:23-29.—These Testaments are circumstantially different in their time, clearness, fulness, efficacy,—extent of original publication;—and in their easiness, their spirituality of worship, 2 Cor 3:6-16; Heb 1-10; Acts 15:6-11. But they are the same in substance, exhibiting the same new covenant,—making over the same Saviour and salvation, Heb 13:8; Acts 15:11; Rom 4.—conferring the same right to,—assurance of interest in,—and actual enjoyment of eternal salvation, Ps 103:1-6; Ps 116-117; Ps 18:1-3; Ps 32:1-2; Ps 73:24-26; Job 19:25-27; Gal 2:20; 1 Tim 1:13-16; 2 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 4:7-8.—and requiring the same duties of faith, repentance, love, and new obedience in the legatees, Ps 2:12; Hos 14:1; Jer 3:1,4,14,22; Ps 97:10; Ps 31:23; Deut 12:32; Acts 16:31; 1 John 3:23; Rev 2:5,16; Rev 3:19; 1 Cor 16:22; John 21:15-17; Matt 28:20.—In these Testaments, the histories and rules of behaviour explain the bequeathments, and direct us to improve them in thankfulness to God.—And to connect the duties of holiness with the privileges which attend them, many clauses run in a conditional form: but these are all reducible to absolute ones, in which God's making us to perform these required duties, is promised as a free privilege without any conditions, Acts 16:31; Rom 15:12, etc. etc.
Christ's bequeathing his purchased blessings being his fundamental act of administration, upon which every thing relative to the application of them depends;—sinful men, indefinitely considered, must be his legatees, to whom in the offers of the gospel, he dispones them; and all of them, as they hear his Testament published, have full warrant, by faith, to claim and take into possession all his benefits thus disponed.—And hence, in his Testament, they are not denominated from their personal names, arts, callings, or places of earthly abode;—but from general marks, descriptive of their disposition, state, and conversation before God,—as men, sinful, lost, self-destroyed, stouthearted and far from righteousness, polluted, wicked, rebellious, etc. Prov 8:4; Prov 1:22; Prov 9:4-5; Acts 2:39; Rev 22:17; John 6:37; John 7:37-39; 1 Tim 1:15; 2 Cor 5:20; Matt 9:12-13; Matt 11:28; Matt 18:11; Luke 19:10; Luke 2:10-11; Hos 13:9; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 55:1-7; Isa 65:1-2; Isa 1:18; Jer 3:1-5,14,19,22.—All the absolute promises of the covenant being directed to men, as in such wretched conditions, the elect representees, being, by conviction, made to know their testamentary characters, do, in agreeableness to them, claim and take into possession the bequeathed blessings,—and multitudes of reprobates are rendered useful to them in their spiritual concerns, 1 Tim 1:17,19; Matt 7:22; Eph 4:11-18.
The Legacies, which Christ bequeaths in his testament, comprehend every thing necessary for the recovery and eternal happiness of sinful and miserable men, Rom 8:32; Ps 84:11; Ps 85:12; Phil 4:19. Particularly, 1. Himself as an Husband,—an effectual Saviour,—Portion,—and a governing Head, Isa 42:6; Isa 9:6; 2 Cor 9:15; John 3:16. 2. A complete and everlasting righteousness in him for justification of life, Rom 5:17; Rom 1:17; Rom 3:22; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 54:17; Isa 61:10; Isa 45:24-25.—3. A new covenant-interest in God, as a reconciled Friend, an affectionate Father, and an all-sufficient God, Isa 57:19; 2 Cor 6:18; Hos 1:10; Heb 8:10. 4. The Holy Spirit of all grace, for the renovation of our nature and life, into the image of God, and for the consolation of our soul, Prov 1:23; John 7:37-38; Ezek 36:26-27; Zech 12:10; John 16:7-14; John 14:16-17,26; John 15:26; 2 Thess 2:16-17. 5. A proper portion of the good things of this life, Ps 37:3,16; Matt 6:33. 6. An unstinged and sweetened death, John 8:51; Isa 25:8; Hos 13:14. 7. An eternal life in heaven, John 6:40-58; John 10:28; John 17:2.
III. Having irrevocably bequeathed his unsearchable riches to sinful men, Christ, though not to the exclusion of his Father,and as cooperating with his blessed Spirit, executes his own Testament, in effectually conferring upon the elect the blessings therein disponed, answerable to their need, in the character of an Advocate, a Prophet, and King.
1. As, on account of their unworthiness, guilt, and ignorance, his legatees cannot prosecute their claim before God the Judge of all, Christ, as the Advocate, or interceding Priest of the covenant, manages the cause of his chosen, skilfully and boldly pleads on the footing of his finished righteousness in their stead, that his disponed blessings may be conferred upon them, in the appointed moments of grace, 1 John 2:1-2; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; Heb 9:24; John 17. By this he, 1. Secures their effectual inbringing to a new covenant-state of union and fellowship with himself, and of interest in, of peace and favour with God, John 17:20-21. 2. Takes actual infeftment of all the new covenant blessings in their name, Heb 6:20; Col 2:10; Eph 2:6; John 14:2-3. 3. Maintains the new covenant-peace and friendship between God and them,—answering all accusations laid against them, and removing all real controversies which happen between God and them, Rom 8:33-34; 1 John 2:1-2; Isa 54:9-10; Isa 27:4; Isa 57:18-19. 4. Notwithstanding their remaining unworthiness, ignorance, and imperfection, procures them access to God, and acceptance of all their services, which they perform in faith, Eph 2:18; Eph 1:6; Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 2:5; Rev 8:3-4; Rev 7:14. 5. Procures them an abundant entrance into heaven at death and at the last day,—and an everlasting continuance in that happy state, John 17:24; Heb 7:25; Ps 110:4.
As, by reason of their ignorance and weakness, his legatees cannot, of themselves, apprehend the mysteries of his covenant and testament, Christ reveals it to them, in the threefold character of a Messenger, an Interpreter, and Witness. 1. As the truths of his testament are good news from a far country, He, as the Messenger of the covenant, brings to us the glad tidings of our marriage with his person, and of our justification, adoption, sanctification, and eternal salvation through his blood,—and deals with us to accept these offered benefits, Mal 3:1; Isa 61:1-3; Ps 40:9-10. 2. As we are to unable to conceive aright of the mysterious truths and blessings of his covenant, He, as an unparalleled Interpreter, explains to us the terms of his covenant, and the articles of his testament, Job 33:23; 1 John 5:20; John 6:45-46,63; Heb 5:2; Isa 42:6-7; Isa 49:6; Isa 48:17; Isa 60:1; Isa 61:1; Luke 24:27,45; John 8:12; John 9:5; Eph 5:8,14. 3. As we are slow of heart to believe the truths of God, especially those that are contrary to our corrupt self-love, and the dictates of a defiled conscience, Christ, as the faithful and the true witness of the covenant, attests them to us, Isa 55:4; Rev 1:5; Rev 3:14; John 8:18; John 18:37; 2 Cor 1:20.—declaring them to us in his word, John 20:31; Rom 15:4,8.—confirming them by solemn asseverations and oaths, John 3:3,5; Matt 26:63-64; Heb 6:17-18; Rev 10:6-7; Isa 45:23.—exemplifying them in his person and work, John 1:14; John 14:6; 2 Cor 1:20.—ratifying them in his sufferings and death, Heb 9:16; John 18:37; Rom 15:8, and sealing them in his sacraments, Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:23-29.—Acting in these three characters, Christ, as the prophet of the new covenant, 1. Intimates and offers the covenant-proposals to men in his word, in order to bring them to a personal interest in it. And in this he makes use of angels, prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, parents, masters, etc. as his deputies or instruments, Dan 9:21-27; Luke 1-2; Matt 1:20-21; Acts 10:13; 2 Cor 5:19-20; Heb 10:25; Heb 12:25; Deut 6:7; Ps 78:4-6; Isa 38:19; Gen 18:19. 2. By his Spirit he makes these intimations effectual for the illumination and conversion of his elect, 1 Pet 1:12; 1 Thess 1:5; John 15:26; John 14:26; John 16:7-14. 3. Further, by his word and spirit he instructs and directs his converted people, during their continuance on earth, Ps 25:9,14; Ps 32:7-8; Ps 73:24; Isa 54:13; Isa 48:17; 1 John 2:20,27; Eph 1:13,17-18; Eph 3:16-19. 4. Immediately communicates light and knowledge to them in their heavenly state, Ps 16:11; Ps 17:15; Isa 60:19-20; Rev 21:23; Rev 7:17; 1 John 3:2; 1 Cor 13:12.
3. As his legatees are by nature rebellious, unruly, enslaved, and miserable, Christ, as King of the covenant, powerfully confers his bequeathed blessings to his elect.—Having the kingdom of providence committed to him to be used for the benefit of his church, which is his proper kingdom, John 5:22; Matt 11:27; Matt 28:18; Prov 8:15-16; Eph 1:22-23; Isa 43:14, John 18:36; Ps 2:6,—He, 1. Appoints ordinances and officers, for bringing sinful men into a new-covenant state, and establishing them in it, Acts 7:38; Isa 33:22; Eph 4:11-13. 2. He emits royal proclamations, warranting and calling men to come and unite with himself by faith, and thus receive a full and an everlasting interest in all his benefits disponed, Mark 16:15-16; Rom 10:17; Matt 11:28; Isa 55:1-3,6-7; Prov 1:22-23; Prov 9:4-5; Prov 23:26; Rev 22:17; Rev 3:20; Isa 1:18-19; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 65:1-2; Jer 3:1,4,14,19,22; Jer 4:14; Jer 6:8; Zech 9:9,12; John 7:37-39; Acts 2:38-39; 2 Cor 5:19-20. 3. By his word and Spirit he effectually subdues his elect to himself,—giving them a full right to, and a begun possession of his blessings, Ps 110:3; Ps 45:3-5; Rev 6:2; Col 1:13; Acts 26:17-18. 4. He gathers his converted elect along with others into a visible church state, in which, by regulations suited to their circumstances and imperfections, he governs them to his own honour and their advantage, Gen 49:10; Matt 16:18; Matt 18:15-20; Matt 28:19-20; Isa 9:6-7; Gen 17; Exod 12 through Deut 31; 1 Cor 4-16; Eph 4-6; Col 2-4; 1 Thess 2-5; 1 Tim 1 through Titus 3; Heb 1-13; etc. 5. He, in peculiar manner, governs his true and voluntary subjects, according to the tenor of the covenant, preserving and manifesting his own prerogatives, and firmly securing their privileges, Isa 33:22;—in giving them a complete legal and filial right to all the happiness of the covenant, in their justification and adoption, Matt 9:2,6; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:39; Isa 53:11; Jer 3:19;—in giving them the laws of his covenant, the moral law, as a rule of life, and writing them by his Spirit in their heart, Heb 8:10; Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26-27;—in bestowing upon them, when obedient, the rewards of the covenant, not indeed for the sake or worth of their good works, but as rewards originally due to himself as their Surety, and only due to them as they are united with, and accepted in him, Ps 19:11; John 14:21-23; Rev 2:7,11,17,26-28; Rev 3:5,12,21; 1 Cor 9:24; 1 Cor 15:58;—in ministering to them, when disobedient, the gracious discipline of the covenant, in bodily trouble, reproach, poverty, family or other relative afflictions,—or in desertion, temptation, prevalence of inward corruption, disquiet of conscience, or the like, on their soul,—all which, in themselves and in their natural influence, are the deserved fruits of their sin, and contained in testamentary threatenings against it; but as managed by his infinite wisdom, power, and love, for promoting their holiness and happiness, are mercies purchased by his death, and contained in promises to their persons as beloved of God in him, 1 Cor 11:30,32; Ps 38:4-8; Ps 13:1-4; Eph 6:16; Isa 63:17; Ps 89:30-34; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19; Isa 27:9; Ps 119:67,71,75;—in repeating his intimations of his judicial pardon, and granting them fatherly pardons, upon their renewed acts of faith and repentance, John 5:22; Luke 7:48; Acts 5:31; Isa 44:22; Isa 43:25;—in granting them the protection of the covenant, Ps 89:18; 1 John 4:4; Rom 7:24-25; 2 Cor 12:7,9; in publicly and authoritatively bestowing upon them the eternal happiness promised in the covenant,—at death, Rev 1:8; Rev 14:13; Acts 7:59; and at the last day, Matt 25:34-40,46; Rev 20:12; Rev 22:12,14;—and in his eternal government and glorification of them in heaven, Isa 9:7; Rev 7:17; Rev 3:21. 6. He restrains and conquers his own and his people's enemies, and punishes them, if rational agents, Ps 76:10; Ps 110:5-7; Ps 18:41-46; 2 Thess 1:6-9; Rev 20:10,15. From the above hints of the making and administration of the covenant of grace, it plainly appears to be, 1. Well ordered in all things, 2 Sam 23:5. 2. Richly stored with all necessary blessings, proper for time and for eternity, 2 Sam 23:5; Isa 55:1-3; Isa 25:6; 1 Cor 1:30; Col 3:11; Col 2:10; Col 1:19; Phil 4:19. 3. Altogether of free grace and mercy, Rom 5:20-21; Ps 89:1-4,28; Ps 40:5. 4. Sure, that it cannot be broken, 2 Sam 23:5; Isa 55:3,10; Isa 54:8-10. 5. Everlasting, 2 Sam 23:5; Heb 13:20; Jer 10; Jer 12:40; Ezek 37:26. 6. Much different from the covenant of works, and preferable to it, in the party contracted with,—administrator,—nature,—quality,—condition,—promises,—order of our obedience, and God's acceptance of it,—order of execution,—ends,—and effects, Heb 8:6-13; Rom 5:12-21.
Notwithstanding Christ's indefinite administration of the covenant of grace, few men are ever actually instated in it by their own personal taking hold of it, Matt 20:16; Matt 22:14; Matt 7:13-14; Luke 12:32; Luke 13:24; 1 John 5:19; Rom 9:27; Rom 11:5; Jer 3:14.—No adult persons are instated in it, but those that, under deep convictions of their sinfulness and misery, have fled to it for refuge, Rom 9:6; Heb 6,18; Ps 142:4-5; Acts 2:37-39;—heartily approve the whole plan of it, 2 Sam 23:5; Matt 11:5; 1 Cor 1:23-24; Acts 9:6; 1 Tim 1:15; Isa 55:3;—gratefully love God the maker of it, 1 John 4:19; 1 John 5:3; 2 Cor 5:14-15; Ps 73:25-26; Ps 4:6-7; Ps 18:1; Ps 84:12; Ps 42:1-2,5,9,11; Ps 43:4-5; Ps 116:1; Ps 103:1-6;—heartily submit to Christ as their head in it, Hos 1:11; Gal 2:20; Phil 3:7-9;—cordially trust their whole salvation to the condition of it, 1 Cor 2:2; Phil 3:3,9; Gal 6:14; Isa 45:24-25;—feed with inward satisfaction on the promises of it, 2 Sam 23:5; Ps 7:10; Ps 19:10; Ps 119:72,97,113,127,162,167;—and who have the sanctifying, free, ingenuous, and sympathizing Spirit of the covenant dwelling and working in them, Rom 8:1,4,9,15,26-27; Gal 4:6; Gal 5:16,18; Gal 6:10; Ps 69:9; Ps 119:136,139; Zech 8:23; Zech 12:10;—and in fine, who approve of, delight in, and conform themselves to, the laws of the covenant, in so far as they know them,—and desire to be taught that which they know not, Rom 7:12,14-25; Ps 119:5-6,18,26,128; Ps 139:23-24; Ps 43:3-4; Ps 143:10; Gal 5:17; Matt 6:22; Titus 2:11-12; 2 Cor 1:12; Phil 3:3; John 3:21; Job 34:32.
Men are actually or personally instated in this covenant by their being spiritually united with Christ, their Representative in it, Isa 54:5-17; Ezek 16:8; Hos 2:18-20; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 11:2. By this spiritual marriage-union, Christ himself, in his person, offices, and relations, is made ours, Song 2:16. John 20:28; Phil 3:7-9; his fulfilling the condition of this covenant, ours in law-reckoning, 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 8:4; Rom 5:19; Isa 45:24-25; Isa 61:10; Jer 23:6; Phil 3:9; and all the blessings of it ours in law-right, 1 Cor 1:30; 1 Cor 3:22.—Christ graciously brings us into the bond of this covenant by uniting himself to us as our husband, the Lord our righteousness, our father, and sanctifying head, Hos 2:19-20; Ezek 16:8; Isa 54:5,17; Isa 46:12-13; Isa 61:10; Jer 3:4,19; Jer 31:10,20; 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 6:17. And we dutifully enter into the bond of it by faith, Acts 16:31; Isa 55:3; Mark 16:16; John 3:14-18; which, by receiving all the blessings of it freely, preserves the grace of the covenant, Rom 4:4-5,16; Eph 2:4,9; Eph 1:6-7; and, by uniting with Christ the representative, preserves the unity of it, John 10:9-10; Eph 3:17.—This faith includes a belief of the Scripture account of this covenant or testament, upon God's own authority,—and a cordial consent to it, with respect to our own salvation in particular, 1 Tim 1:15; 2 Sam 23:5.—or, it is a receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel,—made of God to us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, John 1:12; John 3:16-17; John 6:40; 1 Cor 1:30.
Both law and gospel having their respective stations in the dispensation of this covenant and testament, both must be believed with particular personal application to ourselves. By believing the declarations of the law, we, upon the authority of God impressed on our conscience, become fully persuaded of our own guilt, pollution, condemnation, and absolute inability to do any thing for our own recovery, by the covenant of works, Rom 3:9-20,23; Ps 51:5; Job 14:4; Gal 3:10; Rom 5:6; Rom 8:7-8; Jer 17:9; Jer 13:23,27. This persuasion or belief is produced by the Holy Ghost, as a spirit of bondage, powerfully impressing on us the precepts and threatening of that broken covenant, John 16:8-10; Rom 7:9; Rom 3:20; Gal 3:24. This legal faith is but forced on our soul against our will, and in no wise unites us to Christ; nor is it, or the legal repentance which attends it, any ground of our welcome to him. But, in the hand of the almighty and all-wise Spirit of God, it excites us to flee to him, or rather to flee from all things else, Acts 2:37; Acts 16:29-30. By it we are persuaded of our absolute need of him and his benefits; and that we have in ourselves those wretched and infamous characters, by which men are invited to him in the gospel, 1 Tim 1:13,15; Rom 7:9-13; John 4:29.—In believing the declarations of the gospel, we, upon God's own testimony, are cordially persuaded, that Christ is an all-sufficient Saviour, able to save the very worst sinners of mankind, with a full and everlasting salvation, Eph 3:8; Heb 7:25; Isa 32:2; Isa 45:22; Isa 63:1; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:13,15-16; Titus 3:3-7;—that he is cordially offered by God to sinful men as his free gift for their salvation, and to us in particular, Isa 55:1-4,7; Rev 22:17; Prov 8:4; Prov 9:4-5; Isa 9:6; Isa 42:6-7; Isa 49:6,8;—that, by this divine grant of him in the gospel, he and all the benefits of redemption are really ours, not in actual possession, but to be taken into possession, as God's free gift to us, to be used for all the purposes of our salvation, 1 John 4:13-14; John 3:27; John 4:42; John 4:10,14; 2 Sam 23:5; 2 Sam 22:3; Luke 1:47; Luke 8:12; Isa 46:12-13; Ps 27:1; John 6:32; John 3:16; 1 Cor 1:30; Isa 9:6; Isa 42:6-7; Rom 5:17; 1 John 5:10-11.—In consequence of which persuasion follows our particular trust in him for our own salvation, Acts 16:31; Ps 2:12; Ps 37:3; Rom 15:12; Gal 2:16,20; Acts 15:11; 1 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 2:5.—By this particular trust in Christ our heart really desires to be saved from sin and wrath, Rom 10:10; Rom 7:24-25;—renounces all confidence in itself, and every other creature for salvation, Phil 3:3; Jer 16:19; Jer 3:23; Jer 17:5; Prov 3:5; Acts 2:37; Matt 5:3;—cordially approves the new-covenant method of salvation, as infinitely well suited to the honour of God's perfections, and to our particular necessities, 1 Cor 1:23-24; 1 Cor 2:2; Matt 9:12;—betakes itself to Christ in all his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, John 6:35,40,68-69; Heb 6:18; Acts 8:37;—trusts our whole salvation to him and his righteousness, being firmly persuaded, upon the testimony of God himself, declared in the gospel, and applied by his Spirit, that He, as ours by his Father's gift, will fully execute upon us every saving office, fulfil every new-covenant relation, and accomplish every gospel-promise, John 3:16; Heb 3:6,14; Heb 10:38; Isa 28:16; Isa 25:9; Isa 50:10; Isa 26:3-4; Isa 45:22-25; 1 Pet 2:6; Rom 10:10-11; Ps 112:7; 2 Tim 1:12; Song 8:5; 2 Chron 14:11; 2 Chron 16:8; 2 Chron 20:20; Heb 11:13; 1 Tim 1:15.—This persuasion is produced by the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, discovering him in the declarations and promises of the gospel, and in and by them conveying him into our heart, as made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,—in which work, and through which word of the covenant, he from Christ's fulness conveys habitual grace into our heart, by which we are rendered capable to discern, receive, and rest upon him, 1 Thess 1:5-6; 1 Thess 2:13. And hence, he is called the Spirit of faith, 1 Cor 4:13.
This faith, by which we take hold of God's covenant, includes in its very nature a real, though not alway a clear, distinct, or strong assurance, or persuasion of the truth of God's declarations and promises with respect to one's self, and of Christ's acting up to all his characters, offices, and relations, represented in the gospel: and in proportion to the degree of this assurance, is our reception of him and his fulness;—our believing upon God's own testimony, that he therein gives us all the fulness of his covenant, being our very reception of it. 1. Such an assurance is included in all the plain or metaphorical descriptions of faith in Scripture, as a persuasion,—the substance of things hoped for,—the evidence of things not seen,—trusting, staying, leaning, receiving, resting, etc. Heb 11:1,13; Ps 31:14; Ps 18:2; Isa 26:3-4; Isa 12:2; Isa 50:10; Song 8:5; John 1:12; Ps 37:3,5,7. Hence faith is opposed to doubting, fearing, wavering, staggering, instability, Matt 14:31; Mark 5:36; James 1:6,8; John 14:3; Rom 4:20; Heb 10:23,25. 2. The Scripture strongly commends and encourages us to such assurance of faith, Heb 10:22; Heb 3:6,14,18; Heb 10:35; Rom 4:18-24; Mark 11:24. 3. By directing his gospel-promises to us, in the manner best calculated to beget such assurance, God affords us sufficient ground for it, in all our dealings with him and with his Christ, Acts 2:39; Acts 3:26; Acts 13:34; Rom 10:10-11; Rom 11:26; John 3:14-17; John 7:37-39; John 6:37,39-40; Jer 3:4,19; Jer 3:14,22; Hos 2:19-23; 1 John 5:10-12; Exod 20:2; Ps 50:7; Jer 30:22; Zech 8:8; Zech 13:9; Ezek 36:25-32; 1 Tim 1:15; Heb 6:16-18; Heb 10:23; 1 Thess 5:23-24; Titus 1:2; Num 23:19.—Doubts and fears are found in true believers, in proportion to the weakness of their faith, and not in their faith itself: and often, their doubts and fears do not immediately respect the faithfulness of God in his word, but their own past or present experience of his power; and so are more properly opposite to the assurance of sense, than to that of faith. If our heart condemn and oppose our doubting God's truth and faithfulness in his promise, we have a true, though not a full assurance of faith, Matt 14:29-31; Gal 5:17; Ps 42:5,11; Ps 43:5; Ps 77:10.
By this assured faith, we unite with Christ, as the Fulfiller of the condition of the covenant in our stead,—and, as the faithful Administrator of the covenant for our good;—and, as guilty and polluted, we heartily surrender ourselves to him, as the almighty Saviour,—as poor and empty, to him, as our infinitely benevolent Friend, and all-supplying and satisfying Portion;—and as perverse and unprofitable, to him, as our wise and gracious Lord, who can form us for himself to shew forth his praise, Isa 44:5; Ps 119:94; Ps 142:4-5; Ps 116:16; Rom 5:20-21; Phil 4:19; Isa 43:21; 2 Tim 2:21.—This may be called personal covenanting with God.
None can possibly fall from their new-covenant state: 2 Sam 23:5; Ps 89:28-35; Isa 54:8-10; Heb 13:5. But all that are in it, ought diligently to improve it, 1. By a continued resting on Christ, and receiving out of his fulness, through the promises of the gospel, all necessary comfort and grace, 2 Chron 20:20; Acts 11:23; Gal 2:20; Hab 2:4; 2 Cor 4:7. 2. In a diligent attendance on, and believing improvement of, all the ordinances appointed by God for the dispensation of the covenant, 1 Cor 11:2,23; Deut 4:2; Deut 5:32; Deut 12:32; Prov 8:34; Ps 84:1-12; Matt 28:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-29. 3. In a thankful, hearty, and an evangelical obedience to all the laws issued forth in the administration of the covenant, Gal 5:6,22-23; Titus 2:11-12; Titus 3:8,14; Deut 12:32. 4. In patiently waiting, and earnestly preparing for the everlasting happiness of the covenant, Titus 2:13; Heb 6:12; 2 Cor 4:18; 2 Tim 4:7-8; 1 Pet 1:13-15; 2 Pet 1:4-8; Titus 2:11-14.
Reflection. Now, O my soul, think what astonishing displays of Jehovah's perfections appear in this covenant!—Behold how infinite mercy, grace, and love excite!—how infinite wisdom plans!—infinite persons mutually engage!—how all infinite perfections work for the redemption of sinful men,—of sinful me!—Hath God, in very deed, put to, and made with me this everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure?—Durst I risk an appearance before the judgment-seat of God,—an entrance into eternity upon it, as all my salvation and all my desire?—Have I, in my present review of it, looked after him that lives, and sees, and saves me?—Him that loved me, and gave his Son for me?—Him that gave himself for, and to me?—Am I prepared by God, with the saving views and heart-captivating influences of his covenant,—to declare to others, what I have seen, and heard, and tasted, and handled, of the Word of life?—Or, dreadful thought! Am I to view,—to preach this everlasting covenant,—in its amazing origin, marvellous parties, parts, and administration;—preach it in all it fulness and freedom, and never to share the blessings of it!—If, after repeated inquiries into this infinitely gracious transaction, I preach another gospel,—or, in any form decoy sinners to seek righteousness and salvation by the works of the law, shall I not be, for ever, accursed of God, and detested by angels and saints,—a derision of devils, and abhorred by all flesh?