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As the covenant state of all the elect is the same, except that some have actually embraced the covenant, and some have not, let us, to ascertain and settle this matter conclusively, have our eye upon an individual, say B. Suppose then that God the Father, promised the Son, that B should be one of his seed, and adorn his triumphs.*
The nature, time, and manner, of the salvation of B, are to be understood as comprehended in the promise, which we suppose to be made respecting him: viz. that salvation should be proposed to him; that he should be influenced to embrace this proposal; be made a subject of the indwelling of the Spirit; and in consequence inherit eternal life. The promise depended upon no contingence, and could not fail. Thus B. was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that he should be holy and without blame before God in love. He was predestinated to the adoption of a child." The promise in this case, which is of the nature of choice and predestination to life, is what is intended by the Covenant of Redemption. It is evident that this promise completely interested B in the blessings of the covenant. No posterior circumstance could interest him more perfectly. All that should follow, in relation to his salvation, would be but the execution of this promise.
In the course of events B exists, as a revolted and guilty creature. At the time, and in the manner fixed on, it is revealed to him, that God means to save a part of that revolted race to which he belongs. He is not now told that he is one designated. But he is told that Christ has laid down his life for the sheep; that salvation through him is tendered to men indiscriminately; that the door of mercy is open, and he may enter
*The justness of applying the promise of the covenant of redemption to an individual will surely not be contested. For it has a full warrant in these words of our Savior, John, vi. 37. "All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me.", This passage undeniably teaches that individual sinners were given to Christ. For all is composed of individuals. And these individuals were those and those only, whom Christ undertook to bring to himself. This was to be done to be fure in a certain way. Still the promise, both on the part of the Father and and of the Son, respected individuals, and the same individuals.
if he pleases. God assures him that he will be his God, or which is the same thing, that he shall be found among those on whom he intends to bestow eternal blessedness, if he will be reconciled. Here is a covenant presented hypothetically, or in the form of a proposal. B, influenced by the renewing action of the Holy Spirit upon his soul, penitently, and gratefully, accepts the good news, and avouches Jehovah for his God. Here the covenant is established, or becomes a matter of mutual agreement with B. •
Now, if we review this process, it will appear, that the covenant proposed, is nothing more nor less than the Covenant of Redemption revealed and addressed to B. For it simply unfolds the promises of this covenant, involving the principle upon which they were made, and the manner in which it was agreed that they should be carried into effect, viz. by the preaching of it, and the application of it by the Holy Ghost. The covenant which takes effect, as a matter of mutual agreement between God and B, is nothing more nor less than the Covenant of Redemption, executed with respect to B. B's salvation is now no more secure, and he is no more interested in the covenant favor of God than he was before he believed. There is indeed an alteration, with respect to his actual relative condition, In respect to his unbelieving state, he was under the curse; now he is under the blessing. He before refused. Now his consent is given. But his consent was comprehended in, and secured by the promise of the covenant. Consent is a blessing of the covenant, and in it the work of salvation begins. It is the promise of God then entirely, not the consent of B, which interests him in the blessing. So that the covenants which are such as a matter of proposal, and agreement, are the covenant of redemption, published, and executed. But neither the publication, nor execution of a promise, forms numerically another promise. So far therefore as the term covenant is applied to either in a distinct sense, it can only mark a new modification in which the covenant of Redemption is placed.
It will appear in the progress of this work, that there is an exact similarity between the promises of the covenant made with Abraham and those of the covenant of Redemption. We cannot anticipate the analysis of the former which is to be given. But so much may be here observed. There was a seed of some sort, with which God promised Abraham that he would establish his covenant, so as to be their God. Supposing this promise to be absolute, which will be proved; it was just like the promise made by God the Father to the Son. The promise to the Son, was; that he would give him a seed; that he would establish his covenant with that seed; and be their God. The prom-ise to Abraham was; that God would give him a seed; that he would establish his covenant with that seed; and be their God. Let us now suppose, that Moses was one of the seed of Abraham promised to him, and respected in the covenant made with him, as he undoubtedly was. The promise then secured, that Moses should exist, that he should embrace the covenant, and walk in it; and that God would be his God. Moses exists, and at a particular moment actually embraces the covenant. But a numerically
distinct covenant is not now established with Moses. If this were true, there would be as many covenants as there are believers. No, it is the covenant of Abraham, which is now, in fulfilment of the promise of it, established with Moses. It is this identical covenant applied and executed with respect to im. Moses and Abraham are in the same covenant. This illustrates and confirms the identity of the covenants of Redemption and Grace. Hence the word covenant, when it is used with respect to the blessing, is so universally in the singular. It may be useful to refer to a few passages. Psalms, xxv. 14, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." Psalms, lxxiv. 20, "Have respect unto the covenant." Psalms, cxi. 5, "He hath given meat unto them that fear him, he will be ever mindful of his covenant." Isaiah, lvi. 4, "For thus saith the Lord
unto the Eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant." Hosea, vi. 7, " But they like men have transgressed the covenant." Mathew, iii. 1, "Even the messenger of the covenant," Acts, iii. 25, "Ye are the children of the covenant." Hebrews, ix. 15, "And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, or covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions which were under the first testament, they which are called might recive the promise of eternal inheritance." Surely this language, which runs through the scripture, from beginning to end, is against the idea, that God has two or more distinct gracious covenants respecting his redeemed people, securing their salvation. Nor, as Dr. Gill correctly observes, is there one word in scripture in favor of such a distinction.*
We shall go upon the principle then, that the cove. nant, meaning by covenant, that which is equivalent with efficient promise (for the term, as it means law, token, &c. is here out of the question) is one, and shall call it God's gracious covenant.
This one covenant is the substance of that revelation which God has given to us in the Holy Scriptures. The historic and prophetic parts of the scripture are to be viewed as illustrating the manner in which God executes the promises of this covenant. The devotional parts chiefly consist in celebrating the omnipotence, the wisdom, the faithfulness and grace with which it is carried into effect. All the assurances which are there addressed to individuals, or the church at large; all the benedictions pronounced; all the tender names God is pleased to assume and the condescending manner in which he is pleased to declare, that he unites himself to saints as their God; are so many illustrations of the plenitude of grace which it contains. The law is a schoolmaster to lead us to him who is the mediator of it. The blood of Christ is the blood of this
* But the Dr. did not perceive how this idea militates entirely with the view he has given us, and which is given us in the writings of Baptists generally, of the Abrahamic covenant, of the nature of the Hebrew community, and of exclu sive adult membership and baptism. How it does will be seen in the sequel.
covenant solemnly sealing it. "For," Matthew, xxvi. 28," this is my blood of the New Testament."
This one covenant is the flourishing stock on which every promise to man grows, whether absolute or condi. tional, relative to one dispensation or another, to time or to eternity. On the basis of this covenant it is proper for God to make any promise that he sees fit, to families or to individuals. Hence we find in fact, particular promises made to one person, which are not made to another. Some promises were made to Abraham, which have not been made to any other of the human race. And this is true of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter and Paul. A promise was made to the widow of Sarepta, which was made to no other human being. Some of these promises are absolute, some of them conditional. It cannot perhaps be strictly correct to say of one of these particular and appropriate promises, separately considered, that it is the gracious covenant of God, or the covenant of grace, any more than it can be correct to say of a branch, that it is the tree. But as the nature of a branch is determined by the tree on which it grows; so it must be safe and correct to say, that all these particular promises, shooting out from God's gracious covenant, as the parent stock, are exclusively of a gracious nature, and belong to it.
To adopt the beautiful and expressive figure of Paul, Romans, xi. the covenant is an olive tree, (a symbol of peace) planted in a bountiful soil, cultured by the hand of efficacious grace, full of fatness, shooting up to heaven, and spreading into an infinite multitude of branches. The branches are distinguishable from each other; but they all depend upon the tree, and belong to it. They may be perpetually multiplying; yet the tree is but one.*
* Herman Witsius, in his Economy of the Covenants, treats the Covenant of of Grace and the Covenant of Redemption as distinguishable. Yet he is constrained to speak of them as essentially the same. His words: are, Vol. I. page 382, "If we view the substance of the covenant, it is but only one, nor is it possible it should be otherways.- (He means the covenant of grace.) And that Testament which was consecrated by the blood of Christ, he (Paul) calls everlasting; because it was settled from eternity, published immediately upon the fall of the first man