Substance or Accident?

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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I was reading today in Ernest Kevan's [i:5cd26024db]The Grace of Law[/i:5cd26024db] and he was summarizing the Puritan position as being that the Mosaic administration and the NT administration are both administrations of the Covenant of Grace. I know there is some discussion about definitions and terminology on this, but for the sake of convenience I'm sticking with Kevan's terminology and understanding the CoG as the covenant in which we are saved. The difference between the Mosaic and the NT administrations is a difference, as Francis Roberts expressed it in his book [i:5cd26024db]God's Covenants[/i:5cd26024db] that is "not essentiall, ... but accidentall".

Now on the basis of that I have a question for paedo-baptists. Do you understand infant inclusion in the covenant to be of the [i:5cd26024db]essence[/i:5cd26024db] of the covenant, or is it merely something that is the same in both administrations of the covenant? Substance or accident?
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Ruben....

When we talk about infant inclusion we have to define some terms.

First, an infant included in the covenant is not a guarantee of the child's salvation. I'll explain in a moment why this is a necessary distinction.

Second, we need to remember that God is saving a people for Himself. These, for the most part, are connected people, ie, families. Even if they are not physically connected by genetics, being Christ's seed they are connected by the Spirit.

Third, and these are in no particular order, God designed mankind [i:8525d6d5e6]federally[/i:8525d6d5e6]. There is design in the fact that in Adam all died (covenant of works), and in Christ (covenant of grace) all (the elect) will be made alive. Because of this design, all mankind are placed under the law and this is true of generation upon generation. Likewise, His disciples beget disciples. Time will show whether or not they are true disciples. At any rate, it is God's design to save families. Where this doesn't happen, God's election and providence has not allowed for it for what reason it pleases Him. But on the whole, true disciples beget true disciples.

Now, because He placed children in the old covenant, which is clear from the OT, some have wrongly concluded that if they are placed into the new covenant, then it follows that they must be saved. This comes from a misinterpretation of the new covenant.

The old covenant, as some would say, was not a salvific covenant. This is a wrong conclusion. It did save. Now, before everyone goes wild, let me explain. The law did not save. The ritual and ceremony did not save. The external application of the covenant sign did not save. What saved them is the same thing that saves you and I. First, only those who were of the elect were saved. Second, only those who were regenerated by the Spirit and were given faith were saved. Third, only those who were obedient, because of the Spirit's monergistic work, were saved.

But, as Paul points out, there are outward Jews, and there are inward Jews. Both are in the covenant in the OT. Those who became the people of God by the circumcision made without hands are Jews, inwardly. Those who dwelt with the people of God, but who only received the outward circumcision of the flesh, were Jews outwardly.

Now, do we see the same in the new covenant? Some would say no, but for not very good reasons. In the new covenant there are still those who are "Jews" outwardly. They look the part, act the part, and in all ways seem like they are. But they have not received the circumcision made without hands and so they are merely dead men walking.

And then there are the faithful, who are not only "Jews" outwardly, but are made the people of God in regeneration and faith. These are "Jews" inwardly as well.

So, now we get back to infants. Since there is an outward and inward distinction that must be made, we see that on the basis of the old covenant, and the fact that the inclusion of infants is never abrogated, but even confirmed, infants should be included in the outward aspect of the new covenant. The prophecy of the new covenant includes them, it is confirmed in Peter at pentecost, so we should accept the fact that infants should be included in the outwardly aspects.

Are they made "Jews" inwardly automatically? No, they are not. God expects us to raise our children as we should. But they are born dead in their trespasses and sins. He must raise them in both senses of the term. He must raise them from the dead, and He must raise them up (train) in holy fear that can only be accomplished by His Holy Spirit. By their baptism, we have shown them to be outward "Jews". This rite does not make them "Jews" inwardly. We look forward, with the saints of old, to the promise of God that He will save those He has chosen. We hope in Him. We do not trust in our administration.

With all that said, is this the substance or is it accidental. And by accidental we are not meaning happenstance. Accidental in this context would mean a property, factor, or attribute that is not essential. To this, we must conclude that it is substance, again because of the federal nature of God's design.

He is not called Father for no reason. Yes, He is Christ's Father. And yes, He is our Father. We are His children.

Therefore, because of all of the familial imagery, children are integral to the covenant.

What was promised to Abraham? Sons. So many sons that it would rival the stars in the heavens and the sand on the edge of the sea. And, by sons, we should qualify this as children. He really is enamored with both sons and daughters, for without daughters, sons would not be possible.

But children, descendancy, heritage, lineage, these are all important terms when it comes to God and His redemptive work.

Why have Christ descend from Judah and David? Why is that line everywhere preserved? It is because of lineage. Why should God consider the family in the OT economy, but not the new? Why should He care so much for the children in the OT, but not in the new? They are extremely important to Him. Because through them, they beget more people for His name.

Why even design a family, if it is not central to the theme of redemptive history? We could have been hatched out of pods in the forest. We could have been grown on trees. We could have been made from anything without connection to our parents or to each other.

But we must remember that God created all of this for His own glory. He saved mankind (which is a familial term) for His own glory. The family, then, is made for His own glory.

It then does damage to the Scriptures to suggest that out of all of this design, in the new covenant, children are to remain outside until we have determined that they are true covenant members. Did we make them? Other than the conjugal act, did we have anything to do with it? No. So, we should stand by and do what God has commanded and allow Him the right of His creativity and mold them as He sees fit. In my mind, we have no cause to believe that God will not make of them a vessel of honor. He is making us one. Why should He not make our children one?

We need to get past the thinking that God owes us if we truly believe He will do this. His Word is upheld by Himself, not us. He will do as His own will dictates. Us including them in the outward aspect will not change what He is going to do. Us including them will not create a situation that binds God. Us including them will not make Him change His mind.

The objection is heard, "But what of those children who grow up and are clearly not covenant members. Has God forsaken His promise." Paul soundly refutes this by saying, "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" The second objection is that if it doesn't become true, then people will doubt God and will impugn His integrity. HOW? If they impugn the nature of God because He did not save their children, that is not His fault. It's Adam's fault, for it is his sin that would evoke that type of response from us.

There is nothing in heaven or on earth that can impugn the attributes of God. It is said in the most pernicious and wicked sinfulness of our nature, but it touches God not. We can say nothing contrary to Him that will change Him or His attribute in any way, nor will it thwart His decree.

To sum up. Infants are integral to the plan of God. Through infants being born, God is calling a people to Himself. He is bearing the children, not us. He allows us to share in His plan this way. But in the end, if it were not for children, the promise to Abraham would be null and void.

In Christ,

KC
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Kc, that was absolutely beautiful and biblical. You explained that very clear and precise, you will make a great theologian one day if not already. That really blessed my soul. Thank God for you on this board.:bouncing:
 

Optimus

Puritan Board Freshman
KC says:

""The old covenant, as some would say, was not a salvific covenant. This is a wrong conclusion. It did save. Now, before everyone goes wild, let me explain. The law did not save. The ritual and ceremony did not save. The external application of the covenant sign did not save. What saved them is the same thing that saves you and I. First, only those who were of the elect were saved. Second, only those who were regenerated by the Spirit and were given faith were saved. Third, only those who were obedient, because of the Spirit's monergistic work, were saved.

But, as Paul points out, there are outward Jews, and there are inward Jews. Both are in the covenant in the OT. Those who became the people of God by the circumcision made without hands are Jews, inwardly. Those who dwelt with the people of God, but who only received the outward circumcision of the flesh, were Jews outwardly.

Now, do we see the same in the new covenant? Some would say no, but for not very good reasons. In the new covenant there are still those who are "Jews" outwardly. They look the part, act the part, and in all ways seem like they are. But they have not received the circumcision made without hands and so they are merely dead men walking.

And then there are the faithful, who are not only "Jews" outwardly, but are made the people of God in regeneration and faith. These are "Jews" inwardly as well.""

i say: AMEN

:bouncy::bouncy::bouncy::bouncy::bouncy::bouncing:
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Kevin,

Thanks for your answer. I guess most paedo-baptists would agree that infant inclusion in the covenant is part of the substance of the covenant. That's what I wanted to know.
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks for your kind words, but...

Praise God for the testimony of the Holy Spirit through His Word.

That is the only way I am correct about anything.

In Christ,

KC
 

Rich Barcellos

Puritan Board Freshman
KC said:

[quote:5c1697b209]
The old covenant, as some would say, was not a salvific covenant. This is a wrong conclusion. It did save. Now, before everyone goes wild, let me explain. The law did not save. The ritual and ceremony did not save. The external application of the covenant sign did not save. What saved them is the same thing that saves you and I. First, only those who were of the elect were saved. Second, only those who were regenerated by the Spirit and were given faith were saved. Third, only those who were obedient, because of the Spirit's monergistic work, were saved.
[/quote:5c1697b209]

Some covenant theolgians would put it this was: "This covenant [Sinai] thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, or perished for ever, but not by virtue of this covenant as formally such. It did, indeed, revive the commanding power and sanction of the first covenant of works; and therein, as the apostle speaks, was "the ministry of condemnation," 2 Cor. iii. 9; for "by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified." And on the other hand, it directed also unto the promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what it had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it. Sinners perished eternally under it, but by the curse of the original law of works" (John Owen, Works, XXII:85-86). Owen and others viewed the Mosaic Covenant as a subservient covenant to the covneant of grace.

Sinclair Ferguson, commenting on Owen, says: "Sinai should not then be thought of as the covenant of works; but Sinai does involve a renewal of the principles which partly constituted the covenant of works... On the other hand, the Sinai covenant cannot be thought of as the covenant of grace... His [Owen's] conclusion then is that the Sinaitic covenant revived the commands, sanctions and promises of the covenant of works, and that when the apostle Paul disputes about works or law-righteousness it is the renovation of the Edenic covenant in the Sinaitic covenant he has in mind. Sinai therefore is a 'particular, temporary covenant ... and not a mere dispensation of the covenant of grace'" (Ferguson, John Owen, 29, 30). Cf. Samuel Bolton, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), 88-109 (cf. also 173-174), for a discussion on the various views of the nature and function of the Old Covenant among seventeenth-century divines. Bolton holds, substantially, the same position as Owen. The Old Covenant is not a covenant of works in itself, nor a 'legal' administration of the covenant of grace. It is a subservient covenant to the covenant of grace. Fisher, Witsius, and Boston held similar views.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
To Rich's post -

(i.e. though it was not the CoW, it was a reiteration of the Law in a more defined manner. Thus, it cannot "be" the CoG, but a template for building up the building, or rather scaffolding to help build the CoG.)

So I add:

Think of the Moasic legislation like the scaffolding around a building. The building is the CoG, and when it is compelted, the Scaffolding of the ceremonial and judual Law is not needed, and the Law covenant is fulfilled by Christ to complete the building (He being the chief captstone).
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Pastor Rich...

Perhaps you can help me with something. I have read some of Owen's comments on this, but I cannot for the life of me figure why he says that the old covenant is not an administration when He leaves the Savoy in the original language of the WCF. So which is it for him? Did he write his commentary on Hebrews prior to the Savoy, or after? I haven't had much luck finding this out.

Why, if it is not so plain, would the Westminister divines be able to agree on one covenant various administrations? And what of Calvin? (quoted here from the Institutes, Chapter 10.)

[quote:da4b6c9de8]1. From what has been said above, it must now be clear, that all whom, from the beginning of the world, God adopted as his peculiar people, were taken into covenant with him on the same conditions, and under the same bond of doctrine, as ourselves; but as it is of no small importance to establish this point, I will here add it by way of appendix, and show, since the Fathers were partakers with us in the same inheritance, and hoped for a common salvation through the grace of the same Mediator, how far their condition in this respect was different from our own. For although the passages which we have collected from the Law and the Prophets for the purpose of proof, make it plain that there never was any other rule of piety and religion among the people of God; yet as many things are written on the subject of the difference between the Old and New Testaments in a manner which may perplex ordinary readers, it will be proper here to devote a special place to the better and more exact discussion of this subject. This discussion, which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope of a blessed immortality. Let us guard pious minds against this pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also, let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that Christ is manifested.

2. It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the same: still the administration differs. But because this brief summary is insufficient to give any one a full understanding of the subject, our explanation to be useful must extend to greater length. It were superfluous, however, in showing the similarity, or rather identity, of the two dispensations, again to treat of the particulars which have already been discussed, as it were unseasonable to introduce those which are still to be considered elsewhere. What we propose to insist upon here may be reduced to three heads:-First, That temporal opulence and felicity was not the goal to which the Jews were invited to aspire, but that they were admitted to the hope of immortality, and that assurance of this adoption was given by immediate communications, by the Law and by the Prophets. Secondly, That the covenant by which they were reconciled to the Lord was founded on no merits of their own, but solely on the mercy of God, who called them; and, thirdly, That they both had and knew Christ the Mediator, by whom they were united to God, and made capable of receiving his promises. The second of these, as it is not yet perhaps sufficiently understood, will be fully considered in its own place (Book 3 chap. 15-18). For we will prove by many clear passages in the Prophets, that all which the Lord has ever given or promised to his people is of mere goodness and indulgence. The third also has, in various places, been not obscurely demonstrated. Even the first has not been left unnoticed.

5. Nay, the Apostle makes the Israelites our equals, not only in the grace of the covenant, but also in the signification of the Sacraments. For employing the example of those punishments, which the Scripture states to have been of old inflicted on the Jews, in order to deter the Corinthians from falling into similar wickedness, he begins with premising that they have no ground to claim for themselves any privilege which can exempt them from the divine vengeance which overtook the Jews, since the Lord not only visited them with the same mercies, but also distinguished his grace among them by the same symbols: as if he had said, If you think you are out of danger, because the Baptism which you received, and the Supper of which you daily partake, have excellent promises, and if, in the meantime, despising the goodness of God, you indulge in licentiousness, know that the Jews, on whom the Lord inflicted his severest judgments, possessed similar symbols. They were baptised in passing through the sea, and in the cloud which protected them from the burning heat of the sun. It is said, that this passage was a carnal baptism, corresponding in some degree to our spiritual baptism. But if so, there would be a want of conclusiveness in the argument of the Apostle, whose object is to prevent Christians from imagining that they excelled the Jews in the matter of baptism. Besides, the cavil cannot apply to what immediately follows-viz. that they did "all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ," (1 Cor. 10:3, 4).[/quote:da4b6c9de8]

Witsius, in the Economy, Book III, Chapter III, states that the OT ceremonies were not without their significance and that they foreshadowed all that was to come. In the sense that they represented Christ, they were effectual to the believer in the Old Testament. Hence, he concludes, just as Calvin did, that there is but one covenant with various administrations.

You are correct in that Witsius does not count the Sinaitic covenant as the covenant of works. But he does not deny that it is part and parcel of the covenant of grace.

If the OT ceremonies had no other use than to foreshadow Christ, if He was really not present in them, then why did God even bother? I understand their tutor aspect, but since they were not shown the Glory of Christ in His revelation, why perform the rites if they did not signify and seal the same thing in the OT as the once for all sacrifice of Christ in the NT?

Further, what was not gracious in God providing the sacrificial system? What makes that administration not of grace? John says that we are given grace for grace, placing the Mosaic economy squarely within a gracious frame.

The OT economy cannot remain a tertium quid. We know it was not a covenant of works. If it was, it was a covenant given by God who had no intention of accepting any work as sufficient. So what is left? It was either made with gracious promises, or it was not. In the end, it is all about God's redemption of His fallen creatures, therefore we must conclude that it is an administration of the covenant of grace.

Owen had to have agreed with that at some point. I know Calvin and Witsius, along with all the Westminster Assembly did.

In Christ,

KC
 
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