Leonardus Rijssenius on the Sinaitic Covenant

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Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Although we admit that the covenant of Sinai differed as to mode of administration from the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, nevertheless as to substance and species we deny that it constituted a third covenant, and we insist that there was nothing else than it is the same as the covenant entered into with Abraham, but different as to accidents and circumstances; that is, clothed as to outward administration in the form of a covenant of works, through a severe promulgation of law, but not with a view to exacting afresh a covenant of works with the sinner. That was impossible. The aim was to remember the violated covenant of works, and so to make the Israelites feel their sin and impending curse, and give them the more burning a thirst for the righteousness of redemption. So in it there was a mixture of law and gospel; of the former, to strike terror into sinners, of the latter to raise up and conform contrite consciences. Further, that the Sinaitic covenant was not different from the covenant of grace entered into previously with the patriarchs is clear: (a) on God's side, who makes a pact with the Israelites as their God and likewise as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; (b) on the Israelites' side, who are viewed as God's people and Abraham's seed; (c) on the side of the ceremonial law, the whole of which was typical..."

From Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 399


Puritan Board Doctor
Because they (the Old Covenant Church) were graciously taught about eternal realities - including final and irrevocable exclusion from God's Kingdom - in a way appropriate for the Church under age and which is not appropriate for us, that is no less gracious or some kind of hybrid of works and grace, than the reality that we are appropriately and graciously taught about eternal realities (with the Old Covenant typology carefully stripped away) by the preaching of the doctrine of Hell, by the various threats and warnings of Scripture, including the New Testament, by church discipline and sanctions which are conditional on our behaviour i.e. observation of the law, by divine chastisements, which, even for true believers (?), may be unto death.

Behind all the elements of the Mosaic Covenant and Law lay God's grace; ultimately His Saving Grace to His elect, outshining His Common Grace to the reprobate. The same is true for the New Covenant. The reason for the sometimes striking difference between the Old and New Covenants is that the Church was under age between Moses and Christ, and between Christ's time on Earth and today it has been going through a turbulent and often rebellious adolescence.
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