Sivut kuvina


[ocr errors]

it therefore denotes him who is endowed with such power,

" that he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or think,". Eph. ii. 20. Without whom we can do nothing, and in whom we can do all things : 90 signifies sufficient; whether we suppose it compounded of the relàtive w, and 7, so as to denotę one who is sufficient ; or whether derived from yo, signifying both a pap or breast, and desolation or ravage. If we join each of these together and say, that God is so powerful and so sufficient, as that himself is in want of nothing, and from his plentiful breast all things derive their being, their life, and their motion : which breast being once withdrawn, all things relapse into desolation, This is what he declares himself to be, to his chosen people, in the covenant of grace, for whose benefit be is possessed of this most powerful all-sufficiency. That name therefore is often repeated to the patriarchs, as the fountain of every blessing, Gen. xxviii. 3. xxxv, 11. and xliii. 14. 2dly. As most merciful and gracious, rejoicing to communicate himself to the sinful creature, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. 3dly. And at the same time as most just, not entering into a state of friendship with the sinner, but in a way consistent with his holiness, and after having obtained full satisfaction to his justice: for he will by no means clear the guilty. 4thly. and lastly, As most wise, having found out an admirable mixture of his mercy and justice, without infringing the rights of either. For by this means," unto the principalities and powers in

, heavenly places, is made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God," Eph. iii. 10.

III. But here men are considered, 1st. As sinners, miser-, able and, lost in themselves, who could not be restored by their own, or by any other created power; in a word, pos sessed of nothing, on account of which they can please God, Ezek. xvi 1-6. Tit. ii. 3, 4. 2dly. As chosen by God to grace and glory, according to his most absolute good pleasure, and so appointed heirs of eternal life, and are that “ little flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom," Luke xii. 32. 3dly. As those for whom Christ engaged, or, made satisfaction: for this ought to be considered as necessary, before ever it could be worthy of God to make mention of his grace to sinful man.

IV. The economy of the Persons of the Trinity in the covenant of grace, claims also our attention. The Father is held forth as the principal Author of it, “ who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,” 2 Cor. v. 19. and appoint


ed the Elect to be heirs of himself, and joint heirs with his Son, Rom. viii. 17. The Son is not only Mediator, and ex. ecutor of the covenant, but is himself also the tastator, who by his death ratified the testament of grace, Luke xxi. 29. Heb. ix. 16. and the distributer of all the blessings of it. “I give unto them eternal life," John X. 28. The SPIRIT brings the Elect to Christ, and, in Christ, to the possession of the benefits of the covenant, intimates to their consciences Ta dola ti Aagid sa tiga the holy pledges, the sure mercies of David, and is the seal and earnest of their complete happiness, 1 Cor. xii. 3, 11, 12. Eph. i. 13, 14.

V. Moreover, as we restrict this covenant to the Elect, it is evident we are speaking of the internal, mystical, and spi." ritual communion of the covenant. For salvation itself; and every thing belonging to it, or inseparably connected with it, are promised in this covenant, all which, none but the Elect can attain to. If, in other respects, we consider the external economy of the covenant, in the communion of the word and sacraments, in the profession of the true faith, in the participation of many gifts, which, though excellent and illustrious, are yet none of the effects of the sanctifying Spirit, nor any earnest of future happiness ; it cannot be denied, that, in this respect, many are in covenant, whose names, notwithstanding, are not in the testament of God.

VI. And thus we come to mention some things concerning the promises of the covenant, which, in general, may be included under the nanies of GRACE and GLORY, as is done by the Psalmist, Psal. xlviii. 9, IL “ the Lord will give grace and glory." Which are commonly so distinguished by divines, so as to refer grace to this life, and glory to that which is to come ; though the grace of this life be glorious, and the glory of the future life gracious. We may likewise not improperly say, that in the covenant of grace are promised both salvation itself, and all the means leading to it, which the Lord hath briefly comprised, Jer. xxxi. 33. “ but this shall be the covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their bearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people :" and again, chap. xxxi. 38, 39, 40. " and they shall be my people, and I will be their God : and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

them good : but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”

VII. Here we are to observe a remarkable difference between the promises of the covenant of works, and those of the covenant of grace. The same eternal life is promised in both, which can be but one, consisting in the communion and enjoyment of God; but it is promised in a manner quite different in the one, from what it is in the other. In the covenant of works God promised life to man, on condition of perfect obedience, but he did not promise to produce, or effect this obedience in man. In the covenant of


he not only promises life eternal, but also at the same time faith and repentance, and perseverance in holiness, without which life capnot be attained, and which being granted, life cannot but be obtained. And even in this sense it may be said that the covenant, of which Christ is the Mediator, is.“ more excellent, and established on better promises," Heb, viii. 6; because it does not depend on any uncertain condition, but is founded on the suretiship and actual satisfaction of Christ, does infallibly secure salvation to the believer, and as certainly promise faith to the Elect.

VIII. Divines explain themselves differently as to the CONDITIONS of the covenant of grace. We, for our part, agree with those who think, that the covenant of grace, to speak accurately, with respect to us, has no conditions properly so called which sentiment we shall explain and establish in the following manner:

IX. A. condition of a covenant, properly so called, is that action, which, being performed, gives a man a right to the reward. But that such a condition cannot be required of us in the covenant of grace, is self-evident; because a right to life neither is, nor indeed can be fouuded on any action of ours, but on the righteousness of our Lord alone; who having per, fectly fulfilled the righteousness of the law for us, nothing can, in justice, be required of us to perform, in order to acquire a right already fully purchased for us. And indeed, in this all the orthodox readily agree.

X. Further, the apostle, more than once, sets forth, the covenant of grace, under the appellation of a TESTAMENT, which is God's immutable purpose, not suspended on any one condition: and as it is founded on the unchangeable counsel of God, and ratified by the death of the testator, so it is not possible it should be made void by any unbelief of the Elect, nor acquire its stability from any faith of man: for in this very testament God has as immutably determined concerning

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

faith as salvation. Thus, Gal. iii. 15. we see the covenant of God with Abraham is called a testament; the ratification of which must also be the same with that of a testament And the covenant to be made with Israel, Jer. xxxi. has the same appellation, Heb. vii. 10. As also that covenant with Israel mentioned by Moses, Exod. xxiv, and the declaration of the manner of enjoying the love of God through faith in Christ, Heb. ix. 15, 20. And likewise the compact of the Father with the Son, Luke xxii. 39. ; in which passage, first, the will of God is published, by which he decreed, that the Son should, by the divine power of the Father, obtain the inheritance of the world, and a kingdom: secondly, the will of Christ, that the apostles and others given him, should, through faith, become heirs of righteousness, and of the heavenly kingdom, and of that of the world. Compare Gal. iii. 8. But why should the apostle call the covenant of Abrabam, and that mentioned Heb. viii. 10. a testament, and whether it ought not to be so taken, Matt. xxvi. 18. and in other places sball be considered in its place, Cocceius de Fæder. 4. 'And, in a word, I kpow not whether Paul, when speaking of the covenant of grace, did at any time, or in any

passage, give it any

other name than that of a testament. « But at that time (at least if we give into Cocceius' opinion) that word signified, neither to Greeks, nor Hellenist Jews, nor to the He. brews, any other thing but a testament," Cocceius ad Gal. 3. $. 184. I do not assert these things as if I wanted to confound the notions of a covenant and a testament; but to shew that the covenant of grace is testamentary, and to be distinguished from a covenant, founded on a compact, agreement, or law. Nor do I conceal that I found this in Cocceius de fæd. 8 87. Which made me wonder that a certain learn ed person, who is a great admirer of Cocceius, should find fault with these things.

XI. The famous Cloppenburg, formerly the ornament of the university of Friesland, has accurately observed the same thing, whose words I shall subjoin from Disputat. 3. de forderibus, Thes. 29. “ The other disposition of the covenant (which regards us) is testamentary, whereby the grace by which we are saved, comes to us from the most perfect merit of Christ the Surety. For we are reckoned to be in covenant with God by the new covenant of grace, without having superadded to the covenant confirmed with Christ the Surety, by the renewal of the old agreement, any condition, by which God should transact with us, but giving a gratuitous call to the inheritance of the promises, whose testament Christ rati

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fied by his death, and whose mediator he now is in heaven ; namely, of full: reconciliation with God and of eternal life.” Junius, in like manner, in his Theses, Disputat. 25. § 29. “The conditions being fulfilled by the angel of the covenant, the catholic church was, through, and for him, constituted heir of eternal life, without any condition." !

XII. Besides, when God proposes the form of the covedant of grace, his words, to this purpose, are mere promises, as we have lately seen, Jer. xxxi. and xxxj. Our divines therefore, who, in consequerce of the quirks of the Socinians and Remonstrants, have learned to speak with the greatest caution, justly maintain, that the gospel strictly taken, consists of pure promises of grace and glory.

Xill. And indeed if we were to take the promises of the covenant of grace altogether without exception, we could not, so much as in thought, devise any thing in 'us, as the condition of these promises. For whatever can be conceived as a condition, is all included in the universality of the promises. Should God only promise eternal life, there might be some pretence for saying, that repentance, faith, and the like, were the conditions of this covenant. But seeing God does in the same breath, as it were, ratify both the beginning, progress, uniterrupted continuance, and in a word, the consummation of the new life; nothing remains in this universality of the promises which can be looked upon as a condition of the whole covenant. For we here treat of the condition of the covenant, and not concerning any thing in man, which must go before the actual enjoyment of consummate happiness.

XIV. It is, however certain, that God has in a very wise and holy manner; so ordered it, that none should come to salvation but in a way of faith and holiness, and so ranged his promises, that none should attain to the more principal, or more perfect happiness, but they who should first be made pártakers of the preceding promises. Whence we gather, that none can take comfort in the infallible hope of happiness, who has not sincerely applied himself to the practice of faith and godliness. And the scripture now and then assures 'us, that it is impossible for any to please God without faith, or see him without holiness. From this, many were induced to call faith, and a new life, the conditions of the covenant : whereas, to speak accurately, and according to the nature of this covenant, they are on the part of God, the execution of previous promises, and the earnest of future happiness, and on the part of man, the performance of those duties, which cannot but precede the consummate perfection of a soul de

« EdellinenJatka »