Page images

short pilgrimage of calamity, closed by a painful dealle, is the curse. Then the holy suffered the curse of the coyenant in common with the unholy; and the former rather than the latter. Surely such a carnal in, terpretation of the promise needs no farther refutation,

If the superior excellence of the promises of the new covenant is not to be found in either of these things, it must be looked for in something else. And there is but one other idea; which is, beyond all doubt,, the true one. It is this, the promises of this covenantfree with are absolute; whereas, those of the Sinai covenant, areation conditional, Let the reader turn his eye to the places compare quoted, in which the promises of the Sinai covent hf 19 are inserted, and he will perceive, that in every place they have the conditional term, if, Nothing was ab solutely engaged, Obedience to the law, was the con. tingence upon which the fulfilment of the promises was suspended. This obedience was not secured by the promise. Therefore nothing was secured abso, lutely, Disobedience left the covenantees just where the uncovenanted world stands ; i. e. without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world.” But it is far otherways with the New covenant. The prom. ises, of which this consists, are all absolute. « But this is the covenant which 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 heart, and will be their God, and they shall be my people ; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the great. est of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their in, iquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Here, obedience, and all the spiritual, and everlasting blessings attendant upon it, are secured.

It is to be observed, that though the terms of the promise, as it is here laid down, respect the house of İsrael, and the house of Judah, this is not exclusive language. The effect promised, and produced, is the experience of every one of the saved. The blessing

to be bestowed, is the righteousness of faith, a right. eousness without works. This is forgiveness of sin. Romans iv. 6. “ Even as David describeth the bles. sedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.This blessedness does not come upon the circumcision only, but upon the uncircumcision also.

The reader is probably now prepared to subscribe to the idea, that the new covenant, and the covenant which God established with Abraham, are the same. Perhaps no farther evidence of this need be adduced. But to remove all doubt, let us, with the analysis which has been given of the Abrahamic covenant in our recollection, briefly retrace the leading features of each, and see, if those which apply to the one, do not apply to the other also.

The promises of the Abrahamic covenant respected a natural and adoptive seed. So do the promises of the new covenant. Members of the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, are expressly the objects.They are objects in the proper, primitive sense, as such. And that the same covenant extends to the adopted Gentiles, is evident, from the declaration of Paul, Ephesians i. 2-6. “ If ye have heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given me to youward ; how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery, which, in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles, and prophets, by the Spirit ; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body; and partakers of his promise in Christ, by the Gospel.”

The promises of the Abrahamic covenant were ab. solute, securing the holiness of those on whom they terminated, and so, as we have seen, are those of the new covenant. ;

In the former, sovereignty, in determining the obo jects of mercy, was expressed ; and so it is in the latter.

The latter holds forth and secures the righteousness of faith ; a righteousness without works; the nonimputation of sin ; “ for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more ;" so does the former. This was eminently the blessing which rested upon Abraham, by virtue of that covenant, which God established with him. For it is expressly declared to be, the righteousness of faith, which was sealed to Abraham by circumcision. Romans iv. 11. Here let the reader recollect what has been said upon the righteousness connected with Abraham's faith ; and especially, let him carefully notice, by an inspection of the context, that the apostle is not speaking of the righteousness of Abraham's faith, as an exercise ; i. e. of the moral qualities of his faith, but of something, which, by faith, he found.

The Abrahamic covenant was the ministration of the Spirit ; and so is the new covenant.

The former brought the person, in whom it took effect, into that relation, that God was actually his God; and so does the latter.

There was no curse wrought into the Abrahamic covenant ; nor is there any into the new covenant.

The former remains, or is everlasting ; and the latter has the character, that it remaineth.

The former was confirmed of God in Christ, and so is the latter.

The execution of the one, is also the execution of the other. *

We conclude therefore, with certainty, that, agrecbly to all that has been said upon the Abrahamic covenant, that and this are the same. The promises, objects, and Mediator of the covenant are the same ; and the covenant, as it takes effect, is the same. The Abrahamic covenant was then transmitted, and executed, through successive generations of the Isrealitish people, till the Messiah. And as certain as it was, it is

*"I am apprehensive, that if the matter should be accurately examined, it would be found, that the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, and the Sinai covenant, are not so very distinct as Pædobaptists seem to suppose." AAdrews's Vindication, page 34. The reader will judge.


still in operation, and is yet to have a more extended effect, with respect both to the house of Israel, and the Gentiles, than has hitherto been experienced. * The Sinai covenant, different in all the particulars which have been mentioned, was superinduced upon the covenant which God established with Abraham ; or, as the apostle expresses it, added. “Wherefore then, he asks, Galatians üi. 19, “seryeth the law ?And answers, " It was added because of trangressions, till the seed should come, to whom the promises were made." -Till the seed should come. This manner of expression proves, that the Sinai covenant was to con . tinue only till the coming of the seed, the Messiah ; and then we know it was abolished. Hebrews viii, 13. “ In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now, that which decayeth, and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away.”

That which is added, may be removed at pleasure, and leave that to which it is added, as it was, before the addition was made. Hence, the apostle observes, Gal. ii. 17. “And this I say, that the covenant which was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” The Sinai cov. enant was like the first tabernacle, to which it is compared, Hebrews ix. 2. This was distinguished from the holiest of all. In the latter, was the mercy seat ; not in the former. This “ was a figure for the time then present; in which were offered both gifts, and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.

* “ Though the covenant is called a new and second covenant, yet only with respect to the former administration of it under the legal dispensation ; and both administrations of it, under the law, and under the Gospel, are only so many exhibitions and manifestations of the covenant, under different forms, which was made in eternity." Gill's Reply to Clark, page 11.

The reason here given why the covenant is called a new one, is not the true reason ; for it is called new in contrast to the Sinai covenant. It might be new in this sense, and yet old as to its date in itself considered ; and there is full demonstration that it is old as eternity. This excepted, the passage accords ema direly with our statcipent.

From what has been said, it appears, that though the Sinai covenant was law, and this law was sanc. tioned by the cutse ; and though many of the reasonings of Paul, appear to have respect to it, in that light merely, it was not altogether legal, nor in any respect hostile to grace ; but, in coincidence with it, and operating in aid to it. Therefore, it was not the covenant of works. Such it is often very erroneously represented to be. * Quite different is the account which Paul gives of it. Gal. iii. 21—24. “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. -- Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." To the law, as the basis of the covenant of Sinai, were appended promises, altogether of a gracious nature. It is an act of great condescension and gracë, for the holy God, to make promises, though they are but conditional, to guilty creatures ; especially when the promises embrace the highest possible good, and the condition, is that obedience, which is obligatory, in itself, and prior to the annunciation of promise. In its natural tendency, the Sinai covenant operated in aid to the Abrahamic covenant. To use the figure of the apostle, it was a schoolmaster, to lead those, to whom it was administered, to Christ, who was the great confirmer of that cov. enant. The promises of it were founded in Christ's

*" On the other hand that covenant which requires obedience, and promises blessings conditionally, is the covenannt of works." Andrews's Vindication page 37 66 The truth is, that the Sinai Covenant, which was confessedly the constitution of the Jewish Church, was, in the nature of it, a covenant of works." Ib. page 69.

+ By condition, here, as it respects the Sinai covenant, is meant no more than what the apostle means, when he says, Hebrews iii, 14: “ For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stédfast unto the end." The legal Jews treated the Sinai covenant as conditional in a very different sense. They treated it in a manner which entirely excluded grace. But condition, as suggested by the apostle in this passage, is perfectly evangelic. It applies to grace, as truly as to law. " Behold, I stand at the door and knock. if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelations iii. 20. Faith involves the in. scription of the law upon the heart. Christ is the end of the law; and he who hath Christ nath life. He who believeth shall be saved ; he wbo believeth bot shall be damned. Jews and Gentiles must be obedient to law, or they cannot be saved. The law, though, not the principle of life, is still the narrow way. It is as much so to the Gentiles, as it ever was to the Jews. Faith doos not make void the law ; yea, it establishes the law.


« PreviousContinue »