Originally posted by armourbearer
Here is the problem with "merit," because the language of congruity and condignity is brought into it, as when you use the words "commensurate" and "proportionate." This is the very idea the older divines were avoiding by removing the word "merit" from their vocabulary.
The problem arises from an over-working of the two Adam structure of Paul's thought. One starts by saying Christ merited life for the elect, therefore Adam was to merit life for his posterity. But the parallel fails to account for the differences which Paul himself announces. The first Adam was of the earth, earthy, the second Adam was the Lord from heaven. To say that Adam was to merit life in a manner parallel to Christ meriting life is to deny one of the foundations of the Christian faith -- that life comes to us through Christ as God-man. See Larger Catechism, answer 38, on why it was requisite that the Mediator should be God.
This is the correct perception of the problem but the wrong solution.
If it is essential that the life of the sort that comes through Christ could only come through Christ in the incarnation, then the correction would not be that that life came through a covenant of Works with Adam in which grace and works are mixed. That would be a contradiction.
If it is true that what we receive could not have come through Adam (that is, had to come though Christ), then the correct solution is to say that the promise in the Covenant of Grace is greater than that which was in the Covenant of Works.
At this point, there is a fork in the road. One branch is felix culpa and the other is that the incanation and a greater covenant head would have come anyway without the Fall.