Attributes of the Covenant of Grace
For a clearer understanding of the nature of the Covenant, and its loveliness, it also helps to contemplate its attributes. These are both varied and exceedingly lovely.
Unilateral. This Covenant is largely unilateral; for God conceives it, God alone promises the conditions, God provides the Surety, God makes the first appeal, God works the knowledge, the will, and the action; therefore, it is commonly said in Scripture: I will establish My covenant. I will make a Covenant. I will bring them into the bond of the Covenant. However, since the making of a covenant requires the consent of both parties, man must consent on his side to it, and to that extent, it is bilateral, from both sides.
Gracious. This is an entirely gracious Covenant. Here, there are no good works, no good condition of the heart, no good will; no attractiveness, no pitiable misery, nothing, nothing on the side of humans, which would move God to consider a redemption, a covenant, to be first moved by man’s side to help him. God wants to show Grace, and man wishes to receive everything solely out of Grace. God appears as Gracious, Exodus 34:6. And man receives from His fullness, grace upon grace, John 1:16.
Holy. It is a holy Covenant. Holy is the Lord, holy is the Mediator, holy is the way through which the confederates obtain the promises, holy are all the promises, and the confederates too are sanctified, so that everything on every side is a holy Covenant. Luke 1:72. "To remember his holy covenant."
Glorious. It is a glorious Covenant. The Lord God possesses all glory, the Mediator is glorious and crowned with glory, high and glorious are the goods that are promised; and it is particularly glorious for man, that he is so exalted, that he becomes a confederate of God, and that he is led by the way of this Covenant to glory, Hebrews 2:10. Thus may every confederate say: "He who is mighty has done great things for me," Luke 1:49.
Well-Ordered. It is a well-ordered Covenant: 2 Samuel 23:5. "Yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure." Everything fits together: beginning, middle, end, and there is such a neat order that on all sides the manifold wisdom, the pure righteousness, the unquestionable goodness, the irresistible power shines through. There is that eternal purpose to be glorified in inconceivable grace, and that seeing it would be the joy and blessedness of angels and men; upon this God creates man perfectly holy, and lets man by his own will break the Covenant through sin, and so concludes them all under sin. Thereupon, the Lord sets forth another way to be saved, namely, the Covenant of Grace. The Lord promises the Surety, and lets Him be portrayed through the ceremonies, lets Him be born at the appointed time, and through suffering pays for sin; exalts Him at His right hand, and puts everything in His hands. He lets the Gospel be proclaimed, and thereby draws His elect to this Covenant, and leads them through many remarkable and wondrous ways to glory. Thus, it is all well-ordered.
Love. It is a Covenant of peace and friendship: Isaiah 54:10. "The covenant of my peace shall not be removed." Hence come the mutual names of friend and beloved. Yes, it is an offensive and defensive Covenant, so to speak. God says to Abraham, Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse." And the confederate in turn says, Psalm 119:63: "I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts." Psalm 139:21-22: "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies."
Marriage Covenant. It is a marriage covenant: as a man and a woman are bound together in love and are one, so too a close union and unity come between God and Christ on one side, and between the confederates on the other side. Ezekiel 16:8. "When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine." Hosea 2:19-20: "I will betroth you to me forever." Isaiah 54:5: "For your Maker is your husband." Hence come the mutual names of Bridegroom and Bride, and that mutual mine: Zechariah 13:9: "They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The Lord is my God.'" Song of Solomon 2:16: "My beloved is mine, and I am his."
Eternal. It is an everlasting Covenant. It is not for ten or twenty years, it is not for as long as one lives, but it is a Covenant without end. Therefore, it is often called an everlasting Covenant, Jeremiah 31:33-34. It is, therefore, steadfast, firm, and unbreakable. This is evident:
(a) Isaiah 54:10, "The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed."
(b) It flows from the purpose according to election, which stands firm, Romans 9:11.
(c) It is grounded on the covenant of redemption and the counsel of peace, which is unbreakable. Psalm 89:34: "I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips."
(d) It is confirmed in the death of the Testator. "For a will takes effect only at death," Hebrews 9:17.
(e) It rests on the truth and faithfulness of God. Psalm 146:6: "The Lord who keeps faith forever."
(f) It is ratified by the oath of God. Hebrews 6:17: "So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath." These are the attributes.
Consider these attributes and qualities of this Covenant attentively. Is it not wondrous and lovely on all sides? Who can resist committing their whole heart to it at once? Which of the confederates does not leap for joy over such great salvation, and rest sweetly in God through this Covenant?
by Wilhelmus à Brakel