Dabney on the broken Covenant of Works

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm not seeing how the CoW principle undermines the universal representative principle. Could you elaborate? Paul said in the last verse of Romans 3, "..on the contrary we establish the law." If I understand that correctly, the law is in place as a standard of righteousness for Christ to fulfill as the last Adam. Thus is some sense there was in place a re-enactment of Eden in the new Eden, land of milk and honey.

Thus temporily, not for eternal justification, Israel My son, is the type of Christ undergoing and failing probation, whereas Christ as the last Adam does not fail.

The representative principle is that all mankind underwent their probation and fall in Adam. The republication theory, according to Kline, seeks to prove that Israel was under a covenant of works on the basis that Israel underwent its own probation and fall. The republication theory, thereby, undermines the universal representation of Adam. Now, if you would like to revise Kline's method of argumentation, and revert to a national probation that is different in nature to Adam's probation, then you are free to do so, but then you would not be holding to the modern republication theory. A different kind of probation would lead to a different kind of covenantal arrangement, and that would only serve to undermine the idea that "the covenant of works" was republished.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
The representative principle is that all mankind underwent their probation and fall in Adam. The republication theory, according to Kline, seeks to prove that Israel was under a covenant of works on the basis that Israel underwent its own probation and fall.

Yes, if Kline were teaching that Israel's probation in the Mosaic Covenant were a substitute for the original CoW, I would be aghast. Am I following you?

I didn't read Kline that way. I do absolutely see a different kind.
I do see 1) a probation that is not to the individual but is collective towards national obedience, and bears on the status of the nation as a whole.
2) a difference in that Israel's failure would not be universal and not cross over to other nations' status.
3) a difference where Adam's failure had eternal consequences, while Israel's failure only meant eviction from the land with accompanying horrors.


A different kind of probation would lead to a different kind of covenantal arrangement, and that would only serve to undermine the idea that "the covenant of works" was republished.

Yes, I see. In that case I would be happy to support the doctrine of a different covenant arrangement. Perhaps you might offer an idea along those lines? The distinction would help me see the error of a more pristine CoW arrangement. Thanks.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Yes, I see. In that case I would be happy to support the doctrine of a different covenant arrangement. Perhaps you might offer an idea along those lines? The distinction would help me see the error of a more pristine CoW arrangement. Thanks.

There are two covenants -- works and grace. If the covenant with Israel was not a covenant of works the only alternative left to us in seeking a different covenant arrangement is the covenant of grace.

We do not need to go the length of Kline in order to validate the elements which have the appearance of works in the covenant with Israel. It suffices to say, with the reformed tradition, that certain elements of the covenant of works were republished in subordination to the covenant of grace. Not that this makes it an altogether unique covenant arrangement because the same elements are promulgated in the gospel, as Romans 2 teaches. The fact is that man was created under a moral order, and every administration of divine providence operates in accord with this order. The modern theory of republication partially chooses when to maximise that moral order and when to minimise it. In doing so it does not rightly divide the word of truth.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you, Rev. Winzer.

That makes sense. This has been really good for me. Randy's contributions helped me to look at the OT ad NT as more similar than I had previously known. I'm certain now that dispensationalism had warped my early impressions of the Mosaic Covenant.

Thanks again.
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
But, for your reference, Mr. Cronkhite, these are not the only options within the reformed tradition. Our own William Pemble takes a middle ground, as does Herman Witsius.

"...In all these periods of time, (ie. from Adam to the end of the world), the grace of God that brings salvation to man was ever one and the same; only the revelation thereof was with much variety of circumstances, as God considered it agreeable to every season...But, notwithstanding this or any other diversity in circumstance, the substance of the gospel or covenant of grace is but one and the same throughout all ages, namely Jesus Christ, yesterday and today and the same forever...
...by the covenant of works we understand that which we call the law, namely that means of bringing man to salvation which is by perfect obedience to the will of God. Hereof there are also two separate administrations. The first is with Adam before his fall, when immortality and happiness were promised to man and confirmed by an external symbol of the tree of life, upon the condition that he continued obedient to God, as well in all other things as in that particular commandment of not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second administration of this covenant was the renewing thereof with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, where (after the light of nature had begun to grow darker, and corruption had in time worn out the characters of religion and virtue, as first engraved on man's heart) God revived the law by a compendious and full declaration of all duties required of man towards God and his neighbor, expressed in the Decalogue. According to the tenor of this law God entered into covenant with the Israelites, promising to be their God in bestowing upon them all blessings of life and happiness upon condition that they would be His people, obeying all things that He had commanded. This condition they accepted, promising an absolute obedience: 'All things which the Lord hath said, we will do' (Exodus 19:8). And they also submitted themselves to all punishment in case they disobeyed, saying 'Amen' to the curse of the law: 'Cursed be everyone that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them; and all the people shall say, 'Amen'" (Deuteronomy 27:26). - The Justification of a Sinner, William Pemble, p.156-158.

"What was it then? It was a national covenant between God and Israel, whereby Israel promised to God a sincere obedience to all his precepts, especially to the ten words; God, on the other hand, promised to Israel, that such an observance would be acceptable to him, nor want its reward, both in this life, and in that which is to come, both as to soul and body. This reciprocal promise supposed a covenant of grace. For, without the assistance of the covenant Of grace, man cannot sincerely promise that observance; and yet that an imperfect observance should be acceptable to God is wholly owing to the covenant of grace, It also supposed the doctrine of the covenant of works, the terror of which being increased by those tremendous signs that attended it, they ought to have been excited to embrace that covenant of God. This agreement therefore is a consequent both of the covenant of grace and of works; but was formally neither the one nor the other. A like agreement and renewal of the covenant between God and the pious is frequent; both national and individual. Of the former see Josh. xxiv. 22. 2 Chron. xv. 12. 2 Kings xxiii. 3. Neh. x. 29. Of the latter, Psal. cxix. 106. It is certain, that in the passages we have named, mention is made of some covenant between God and his people. If any should ask me, of what kind, whether of works or of grace? I shall answer, it is formally neither: but a covenant of sincere piety, which supposes both. Hence the question, which is very much agitated at this day, may be decided: namely, Whether the ten words are nothing but the form of the covenant of grace? This, I apprehend, is by no means an accurate way of speaking., For, since a covenant strictly so called, consists in a mutual agreement, what is properly the form of the covenant should contain the said mutual agreement. But the ten words contain only a prescription of duty fenced on the one band by threatenings, taken from the covenant of works; on the other, by promises, which belong to the covenant of grace. Hence the scripture, when it speaks properly, says that a covenant was made upon these ten words, or after the tenor of those words, Exod. xxxiv. 27. distinguishing the covenant itself, which consists in a mutual agreement from the ten words, which contain the conditions of it. The form of the covenant is exhibited by those words, which we have already quoted from Exod. xix. 5, 6, 8. I deny not, that the ten commandments are frequently in scripture called the covenant of God. But at the same time, no person can be ignorant, that the term covenant has various significations in the Hebrew, and often signifies nothing but a precept, as Jer. xxxiv. 18, 14. Thus Moses explains himself on this head, Deut. iv. 13. "And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments." They are therefore called a covenant by a synecdoche, because they contain those precepts, which God, when he set his covenant before them, required the Israelites to observe, and to which the said Israelites bound themselves by covenant. The ten words, or commandments, therefore, are not the form of a covenant properly so called, but the rule of duty: much less are they the form of the covenant of grace: because that covenant, in its strict signification, consists of mere promises and, as it relates to elect persons, has the nature of a testament, or last will, rather than of a covenant strictly speaking, and depends on no condition; as we have at large explained and proved, B. III. chap. I. sect. 8. etc. And. Jeremiah has shown us, that the form of the covenant of grace consists in absolute promises, chap. xxxi. 33. and xxxii. 38-40. In like manner, Isa. liv. 10." - Economy of the Covenants, Herman Witsius, Book IV, p.186,187

The Decalogue: Covenant of Works or Covenant of Grace, by Herman Witsius

Blessings!
 
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non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
But, for your reference, Mr. Cronkhite, these are not the only options within the reformed tradition. Our own William Pemble takes a middle ground, as does Herman Witsius........ Economy of the Covenants, Herman Witsius, Book IV, p.186,187

Thank you, Sir.
This has been such a good education. And thanks to Richard, 'hoping for that quote from Dabney!

Holy is the Lord.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
But the ten words contain only a prescription of duty fenced on the one band by threatenings, taken from the covenant of works; on the other, by promises, which belong to the covenant of grace.

See, and this is what is confusing to me. Since when doesn't the Gospel have threatening and promises tied together? I believe that a dichotomizing of law and gospel has been going on for so long that this has burdened the church with confusion. And it need not be in my estimation when we take in the whole counsel of God. I don't understand why so many want to make the Law of God inseparable from the Covenant of Works as though its origin is bound up in the Covenant of Works. It is above the Covenant of Works. It is bound up in God's Character. Yes, God used the Law in the Covenant of Works but it existed way before the Covenant of Works did.

It wasn't the breathing out of the law threatening necessarily that drew me to Christ. It was the loveliness that the Law revealed to me concerning the Character of God. I knew I wasn't loving and that my world was messed up. I wanted something solid and right. I saw that beauty in the Law of God. The Law of God condemned me but it also drew me to Him because His character was revealed in it.

(Rom 13:8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

(Rom 13:9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


(Rom 13:10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Agreed Mr. Snyder. What's inseparable from the Covenant of Works is personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience to the Moral Law (and all positive laws) as the terms of the Covenant on mankind's side.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you Reverend Ruddell. My contention is that this perfect requirement of obedience didn't originate in the Covenant of Works. I do know some theologians who want to make the CofW the foundation for this and say it is so even referring to Chapter 19 of the WCF. I believe it comes from a place outside of that Covenant. That being from Eternity Past and from the Character of God. I think I have heard others who want to attach it to creation also. That is incorrect also if I am understanding their discussion also. After all when Lucifer fell he violated it before Adam did. I hope I am not treading into dangerous contemplation when considering this. There is a lot I don't know about this.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Dear Mr. Snyder

I believe I understand the point you are trying to make--you are being careful to protect God's own eternal moral excellence, of which the Moral Law in an expression. I too desire to be careful in that regard. Under the paradigm of "Covenant" however, we must remember that there are always parties to a Covenant, and God's essential excellence is apart from any relations to His creatures--apart from his entering into Covenant. The parties of the Covenant of works are God, and Adam. God, by His sovereign rule over Adam, drew him into this Covenant relationship, as an act of His kind condescension to him, offering Him eternal life. The term of that Covenant on Adam's side was personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience to the Moral Law of God, along with the positive commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It does no violence to God's eternal moral excellence to attach these terms as terms of the Covenant of Works for God Himself required this of mankind as a term of life and communion with Himself under that Covenant.

As for Satan (I don't like to call him "Lucifer", not sharing that interpretation of Isaiah 14) the Scriptures are silent regarding any kind of covenantal arrangement. Certainly there are sins attributed to him, and these sins are a violation of God's Moral Excellence, His Law, which is a rule given to moral creatures, and therefore he has incurred guilt for which he will be judged. This much is clear. But keep in mind that the Covenant of works and of grace as detailed in Scriptures are *federal* arrangements--that is, they operate within the confines of headship. The Covenant of works was made with Adam as a public person, so that when he fell, he fell for the race. The Covenant of Grace is made with Christ as the second Adam, in Him with all the elect as His seed. This headship arrangement is not a part, as far as we know, of the administration of elect and reprobate angels.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But, for your reference, Mr. Cronkhite, these are not the only options within the reformed tradition. Our own William Pemble takes a middle ground, as does Herman Witsius........ Economy of the Covenants, Herman Witsius, Book IV, p.186,187

Thank you, Sir.
This has been such a good education. And thanks to Richard, 'hoping for that quote from Dabney!

Holy is the Lord.

Dabney deals with the Republication question specifically, on pp 452-463 of his Systematic Theology which is online here at Lecture 38:

Directory Listing of //Systematic Theology/

I'm sure Kline's, and others', analysis of Hittite treaties is fascinating, and bears fruit in many ways e.g. re another argument for the unity and dating of the Pentateuch against the "Documentary Hypothesis". But there can be dangers in using insights from pagan sources and imposing them on the Bible and thus preventing the Bible from speaking for itself. Almost every biblical "genre" has its external non-biblical counterparts. The Holy Spirit uses these human genres for His own purposes and gives them His own content and meaning, and they must be interpreted in the light of other Scriptures rather than controlled and forced into artificial straightjackets that derive from the very worthwhile study of "similar" sources external to the Bible.

Another reason why some may think that Moses involves a CoW is because it echoes Eden somewhat.

e.g. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden as part of their punishment. If Israel was wicked she would be cast out of the Land, like Eve, along with her mediatorial prophets, priests and kings - Adam.

e.g. The cherubim guarded the way to the Tree of Life after Adam sinned, and the cherubim guarded the way to the Holy of Holies where life was promised to Israel on the basis of substitutionary atonement and where there was the seven branched candelabra, reminiscent of the life and light of pre-Fall Eden.

But the differences are greater than the similarities. Israel was allowed back into the Land after the exile. The exile was a gracious typological teaching aid. There are still Jews in the world today, including those who have faith in the Lord (Romans 9). In the New Covenant we have various chastisements that come upon the Church and individual Christians.

Israel had access to the Holy Place by means of the priests.

The Old Covenant was a Covenant of Grace, grace that was appropriate to the Old Covenant people. Being cast out without being cast into Hell is always a gracious warning from the Lord.

The law that had been broken by Adam was republished in the form of the Ten Commandments. The curse of the law was republished in the judicial law and in various types peculiar to Israel. There was a reminder of the hypothetical relation of sinful man to the law as a CoW in the Incident of the Golden Calf. The revelation of the Gospel that had been preached to Adam in Genesis 3:15 and to Abraham, was greatly expanded in the sacrifices, priesthood and feasts of Israel, in the mediatorial kingship and prophets.

Israel had more raw material for their faith in the Gospel than Abraham did.
 
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Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
It is also interesting to note that the Divines never use the phrase "Old Covenant", but consistently referred to it as the "Old Testament". They spoke of the Covenant of Grace in the times of the Old Testament, they spoke of the Covenant of Works, but did not use the term "Old Covenant". They speak of the "first Covenant" that is, the Covenant of Works, and the "second Covenant" that is, the Covenant of Grace consistently throughout the Confession and Catechisms.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
...But the differences are greater than the similarities. Israel was allowed back into the Land after the exile. The exile was a gracious typological teaching aid. There are still Jews in the world today, including those who have faith in the Lord (Romans 9). In the New Covenant we have various chastisements that come upon the Church and individual Christians....

'just a quick thought. The republicationist might offer: That Israel was allowed back into the land was owing more to the form of the promise to Abraham than to the form of the Mosaic Covenant.

How would you answer?

Thanks.


Israel had more raw material for their faith in the Gospel than Abraham did.

Hmm, interesting.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
'just a quick thought. The republicationist might offer: That Israel was allowed back into the land was owing more to the form of the promise to Abraham than to the form of the Mosaic Covenant.

How would you answer?

The Abrahamic covenant promised seed and land. With the multiplication of the seed God constituted them an holy nation prior to giving them the land. It is the Mosaic covenant which constituted them an holy nation. It is impossible to conceive of this as differing in nature with the Abrahamic covenant since it was co-extensive with the promised seed and had in view the same promised land. The two covenants are continuous. Consider, for example, Psalm 105. What God did for Israel is explained as a remembering of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verse 10 specifically unites them in one line of redemptive history by mixing terms -- Jacob is the recipient of law and Israel is taken up in the everlasting covenant. Such intermingling of terms means the two are identified as a part of one and the same economy. All that pertains to Israel is a part of this economy, including the giving of the land, vv. 42-44.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
One more thought Elder Cronkhite. It seems the passage you are referring to in Romans has a context. Romans 2-4 is very explicit concerning the law and justification. Even though circumcision is spoken of in the concept of law keeping, the truth of it is revealed in what it's purpose was in Abraham. The Jews were turning it into something it wasn't as I have noted in many other places concerning how they were trying to use the law to justify themselves. The law will always pronounce condemnation since all men are condemned in Adam. But faith in the promises of God release us from that condemnation as the sign and seal testify to this fact. By grace that law chases and goads us to Christ. http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/mosaic-covenant-same-substance-new-724/

Yes, thank you. I had forgotten about Rm 2:13 which, to me, is a restatement of the CoW arrangement. He is 'setting up' his argument for justification by faith alone. He is arguing against the Galatian Judaizers with the mere nature of law as the subject of discussion, not as incorporated in the Torah.

Christ was the doer of the law. Christ kept not only the law generally considered, but He kept the Torah. This is formal.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
'just a quick thought. The republicationist might offer: That Israel was allowed back into the land was owing more to the form of the promise to Abraham than to the form of the Mosaic Covenant.

How would you answer?

Thanks.

I can't really add much to what Mathew said. The Old Covenant (or Mosaic Economy) was an administration of the Abrahamic Covenant, as is the New Covenant (or Christian Economy).

It's just that the Old Covenant was a particularly outward, law-heavy, visual/graphic, temporary administration, because the Lord knew that that was what the people of God needed at the childhood state of Israel/the Church.

It didn't mean they were in any sense locked in a CoW. The Pharisees locked themselves in a man made CoW which was against the Lord's preceptive will.

Similarly children need their toys and picturebooks and a peculiar system of discipline. Once they are put away they still learn from them their whole life through. Once we put away the bricks with the letters of the alphabet on them, we are still using what we learnt.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It's just that the Old Covenant was a particularly outward, law-heavy, visual/graphic, temporary administration, because the Lord knew that that was what the people of God needed at the childhood state of Israel/the Church.
:up:

CHAPTER XI

The Difference of the Two Testaments

WHAT then, it will be said, will there be no difference left between the Old Testament and the New? and what becomes of all those passages of Scripture, where they are compared together as things that are different? I readily admit the differences which are mentioned in the Scripture, but I maintain that they derogate nothing from the unity already established; as will be seen when we have discussed them in proper order. But the principal differences, as far as my observation or memory extends, are four in number. To which if any one choose to add a fifth, I shall not make the least objection. I assert, and engage to demonstrate, that all these are such as pertain rather to the mode of administration, than to the substance. In this view, they will not prevent the promises of the Old and and New Testament from remaining the same, and the promises of both testaments from having in Christ the same foundation. Now the first difference is, that although it was always the will of the Lord that the minds of his people should be directed, and their hearts elevated, towards the celestial inheritance; yet in order that they might be the better encouraged to hope for it, he anciently exhibited it for their contemplation and partial enjoyment under the figures of terrestrial blessings. Now having by the Gospel more clearly and explicitly revealed the grace of the future life, he leaves the inferior mode of instruction which he used with the Israelites, and directs our minds to the immediate contemplation of it. Those who overlook this design of God, suppose that the ancients ascended no higher than the corporeal blessings which were promised to them. They so frequently hear the land of Canaan mentioned as the eminent, and indeed the only, reward for the observers of the Divine law. They hear that God threatens the transgressors of this law with nothing more severe than being expelled from the possession of that country, and dispersed into foreign lands. They see this to be nearly the whole substance of all the blessings and of all the curses pronounced by Moses. Hence they confidently conclude, that the Jews were separated from other nations, not for their own sakes, but for ours, that the Christian Church might have an image, in whose external form they could discern examples of spiritual things. But since the Scripture frequently shews, that God himself appointed the terrestrial advantages with which he favoured them for the express purpose of leading them to the hope of celestial blessings; it argued extreme inexperience, not to say stupidity, not to consider such a dispensation. The point of controversy between us and these persons, is this: they maintain that the possession of the land of Canaan was accounted by the Israelites their supreme and ultimate blessedness, but that to us since the revelation of Christ it is a figure of the heavenly inheritance. We on the contrary contend, that in the earthly possession which they enjoyed they contemplated, as in a mirror, the future inheritance which they believed to be prepared for them in heaven.

II. This will more fully appear from the similitude, which Paul has used in his Epistle to the Galatians.z He compares the Jewish nation to a young heir, who being yet incapable of governing himself, follows the dictates of a tutor or governor, to whose charge he has been committed. His application of this similitude chiefly to the ceremonies, is no objection against the propriety of its application to our present purpose. The same inheritance was destined for them as for us; but they were not of a sufficient age to be capable of entering on the possession and management of it. The Church among them was the same as among us; but it was yet in a state of childhood. Therefore the Lord kept them under this tuition, that he might give them the spiritual promises, not open and unconcealed, but veiled under terrestrial figures. Therefore when he admitted Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their posterity, to the hope of immortality, he promised them the land of Canaan as their inheritance: not that their hopes might terminate in that land, but that in the prospect of it they might exercise and confirm themselves in the hope of that true inheritance which was not yet visible. And that they might not be deceived, a superior promise was given them, which proved that country not to be the highest blessing which God would bestow. Thus Abraham is not permitted to grow indolent after having received a promise of the land, but a greater promise elevates his mind to the Lord. For he hears him saying, “Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”a Here we see that the Lord proposes himself to Abraham as his ultimate reward, that he may not seek an uncertain and transitory one in the elements of this world, but may consider that which can never fade away. God afterwards annexes a promise of the land, merely as a symbol of his benevolence, and a type of the heavenly inheritance. And that this was the opinion of the saints, is plain from their own language. Thus David rises from temporary blessings to that consummate and ultimate felicity. “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord.”() “God is my portion for ever.”c Again: “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.”() Again: “I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.”e Persons who venture to express themselves thus, certainly profess that in their hopes they rise above the world and all present blessings. Nevertheless the prophets frequently describe this blessedness of the future world under the type which the Lord had given them. In this sense we must understand the following passages: “The righteous shall inherit the land:”() “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth:”g And various predictions of Isaiah, which foretel the future prosperity of Jerusalem, and the abundance that will be enjoyed in Zion. We see that all these things are inapplicable to the land of our pilgrimage, or to the earthly Jerusalem, but that they belong to the true country of the faithful and to that celestial city, where “the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”()

III. This is the reason why the saints, under the Old Testament, are represented as holding this mortal life with its blessings in higher estimation than becomes us now. For although they well knew that they ought not to rest in it as the end of their course; yet when they recollected what characters of his grace the Lord had impressed on it, in order to instruct them in a manner suitable to their tender state, they felt a greater degree of pleasure in it than if they had considered it merely in itself. But as the Lord, in declaring his benevolence to the faithful by present blessings, gave them, under these types and symbols, a figurative exhibition of spiritual felicity; so on the other hand in corporeal punishments he exemplified his judgment against the reprobate. Therefore as the favours of God were more conspicuous in earthly things, so also were his punishments. Injudicious persons, not considering this analogy and harmony (so to speak) between the punishments and rewards, wonder at so great a variety in God, that in ancient times he was ready to avenge all the transgressions of men by the immediate infliction of severe and dreadful punishments, but now, as if he had laid aside his ancient wrath, punishes with far less severity and frequency; and on this account they almost adopt the notion of the Manicheans, that the God of the Old Testament is a different being from the God of the New. But we shall easily get rid of such difficulties, if we direct our attention to that dispensation of God, which I have observed; namely, that during that period, in which he gave the Israelites his covenant involved in some degree of obscurity, he intended to signify and prefigure the grace of future and eternal felicity by terrestrial blessings, and the grievousness of spiritual death by corporeal punishments.

IV. Another difference between the Old Testament and the New consists in figures, because the former, in the absence of the truth, displayed merely an image and shadow instead of the body: but the latter exhibits the present truth of the substantial body.i And this is generally mentioned wherever the New Testament is opposed to the Old, but is treated more at large in the Epistle to the Hebrews than in any other place,k The apostle is there disputing against those who supposed that the observance of the Mosaic law could not be abolished, without being followed by the total ruin of religion. To refute this error, he adduces the prediction of the prophet concerning the priesthood of Christ;() for since he has an eternal priesthood committed to him, we may argue the certain abolition of that priesthood in which new priests daily succeeded each other,m But he proves the superiority of the appointment of this new Priest, because it is confirmed with an oath,() He afterwards adds that this transfer of the priesthood implies also a change of the covenant.o And he proves that this change was necessary, because such was the imbecility of the law, that it could bring nothing to perfection.() Then he proceeds to state the nature of this imbecility; namely, that the law prescribed external righteousnesses consisting in carnal ordinances, which could not make the observers of them “perfect as pertaining to the conscience,” that by animal victims it could neither expiate sins nor procure true holiness,q He concludes therefore, that it contained “a shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things;”() and that consequently it had no other office, but to serve as an introduction to “a better hope”s which is exhibited in the gospel. Here we have to inquire in what respect the Legal covenant is compared with the Evangelical, the ministry of Christ with the ministry of Moses. For if the comparison related to the substance of the promises, there would be a great discordance between the two testaments; but as the state of the question leads us to a different point, we must attend to the scope of the apostle, in order to discover the truth. Let us then bring forward the covenant, which God hath once made, which is eternal, and never to be abolished. The accomplishment, whence it derives its establishment and satisfaction, is Christ. While such a confirmation was waited for, the Lord by Moses prescribed ceremonies, to serve as solemn symbols of the confirmation. It came to be a subject of contention, whether the ceremonies ordained in the law ought to cease and give place to Christ. Now though these ceremonies were only accidents or concomitants of the covenant, yet being the instruments of its administration, they bear the name of the covenant; as it is common to give to other sacraments the names of the things they represent. In a word, therefore, what is here called the Old Testament, is a solemn method of confirming the covenant, consisting of ceremonies and sacrifices. Since it contains nothing perfect, if we proceed no further; the apostle contends that it ought to be repealed and abrogated, in order to make way for Christ, the Surety and Mediator of a better testament,t by whom eternal sanctification has been at once procured for the elect, and those transgressions obliterated, which remained under the law. Or if you prefer it, take the following statement of it; that the Old Testament of the Lord was that which was delivered to the Jews, involved in a shadowy and inefficacious observance of ceremonies, and that it was therefore temporary, because it remained as it were in suspense, till it was supported by a firm and substantial confirmation; but that it was made new and eternal, when it was consecrated and established by the blood of Christ. Whence Christ calls the cup which he gives to his disciples in the supper, “the cup of the New Testament in his blood;”v to signify that when the testament of God is sealed with his blood, the truth of it is then accomplished, and thus it is made new and eternal.

V. Hence it appears in what sense the apostle said, that the Jews were conducted to Christ by the tuition of the law, before he was manifested in the flesh.w He confesses also that they were children and heirs of God, but such as on account of their age required to be kept under the care of a tutor.() For it was reasonable that before the Sun of righteousness was risen, there should be neither such a full blaze of revelation, nor such great clearness of understanding. Therefore the Lord dispensed the light of his word to them in such a manner, that they had yet only a distant and obscure prospect of it. Paul describes this slenderness of understanding as a state of childhood, which it was the Lord’s will to exercise in the elements of this world and in external observances, as rules of puerile discipline, till the manifestation of Christ, by whom the knowledge of the faithful was to grow to maturity. Christ himself alluded to this distinction, when he said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached.”y What discoveries did Moses and the prophets make to their contemporaries? they afforded them some taste of that wisdom which was in after times to be clearly manifested, and gave them a distant prospect of its future splendor. But when Christ could be plainly pointed out, the kingdom of God was revealed. For in him are discovered “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,”() by which we penetrate almost into the farthest recesses of heaven.

VI. Nor is it any objection to our argument, that scarcely a person can be found in the Christian Church, who is to be compared with Abraham in the excellency of his faith; or that the prophets were distinguished by such energy of the Spirit as, even at this day, is sufficient to illuminate the whole world. For our present inquiry is, not what grace the Lord hath conferred on a few, but what is the ordinary method which he hath pursued in the instruction of his people: such as is found even among the prophets themselves, who were endued with peculiar knowledge above others. For their preaching is obscure, as relating to things very distant, and is comprehended in types. Besides, notwithstanding their wonderful eminence in knowledge, yet because they were under a necessity of submitting to the same tuition as the rest of the people, they are considered as sustaining the character of children as well as others. Finally, none of them possessed knowledge so clear as not to partake more or less of the obscurity of the age. Whence this observation of Christ: “Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”a “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”() And indeed it is reasonable that the presence of Christ should be distinguished by the prerogative of introducing a clearer revelation of the mysteries of heaven. To the same purpose also is the passage, which we have before cited from the First Epistle of Peter, that it was revealed to them, that the principal advantage of their labours would be experienced in our times.c


Calvin, J., & Allen, J. (2010). Vol. 1: Institutes of the Christian religion (480–487). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It is also interesting to note that the Divines never use the phrase "Old Covenant", but consistently referred to it as the "Old Testament". They spoke of the Covenant of Grace in the times of the Old Testament, they spoke of the Covenant of Works, but did not use the term "Old Covenant". They speak of the "first Covenant" that is, the Covenant of Works, and the "second Covenant" that is, the Covenant of Grace consistently throughout the Confession and Catechisms.

Yes. I suppose I tend to use OT for the OT Scriptures and for the whole OT period from the Beginning, and Old Covenant for the Mosaic Covenant and for the period from Moses.

But the use of the term Old Testament in the WCF, once again shows that the divines viewed the Mosaic as being of a piece, and as being an outworking of the Abrahamic, and not so essentially distinct as to be desgnated, "Old Covenant" or something else.

On the other hand, some Baptists, tend to make Abraham more like Moses for their purposes. But Moses should take his gracious flavour from Abraham, rather than Abraham taking a supposed CoW flavour from Moses.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
.....Consider, for example, Psalm 105. What God did for Israel is explained as a remembering of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Verse 10 specifically unites them in one line of redemptive history by mixing terms -- Jacob is the recipient of law and Israel is taken up in the everlasting covenant. Such intermingling of terms means the two are identified as a part of one and the same economy. All that pertains to Israel is a part of this economy, including the giving of the land, vv. 42-44.

Beautiful. Very interesting.
 
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