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THE COVENANT OF GRACE UNCHANGEABLY THE SAME.
EXODUS xix, 5.
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is
FROM what we have heard in the foregoing Dissertation, the following is a third inference.
III. The Sinai covenant is founded on the covenant of redemption, and is essentially the same with the covenant of grace.
What was communicated to Moses on the mount, is called the LAW of God, it is also called his coVENANT. This is evident from Deut. iv, 12, "And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone: Take heed unto yourselves lest ye forget the cOVENANT of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God." This must be a COVENANT OF GRACE; for it is inconsistent with thenature of holiness, for God to make a covenant, other than a covenant of grace with sinners. God could: make a covenant of works with Adam in Paradise; but with his posterity such a covenant cannot be made God did not renew the covenant of works with Adam after he had fallen, but he made another
covenant, even a covenant of grace, and founded it upon the covenant of redemption.
The Sinai covenant could not have been made, and God proclaimed as gracious and merciful, had there not been a previous divine purpose to save sinners through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. "It was in consequence of the eternal purpose of the ever blessed Trinity to save sinners, and of the absolute certainty of Christ's fulfilling his part in the covenant of redemption, that God could, immediately after the fall, promise to save sinners through faith in a Saviour to come. This Divine Saviour is fully exhibited in the Sinai covenant; and in order to be saved by him, the covenant of grace and the Sinai covenant inculcate the same qualifications. That is, the same duties, on the part of the sinner are required by the Sinai covenant, as are required by the Gospel covenant.
"The Gospel promises eternal life to all who believe in the Mediator. This gracious proposal which God makes to sinners, comprises all the essential properties of the covenant of grace. It concerns two parties. It contains a condition to be fulfilled on the one side, and a promise to be performed on the other. And both the promise and the condition are founded in grace."* Therefore,
* Some writers make a great difference between the Sinai covenant, and what they call the new covenant. But it will appear from this discourse that there is no essential difference between them. The promises of both rest in God. "The veracity of God is pledged as much in the promises of the Sinai covenant, as in those of the new covenant." In the Sinai covenant, God promises to be the God of his people; saying, "I will walk among you AND BE YOUR GOD, AND YE SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." "And "the promises of the new covenant terminate in nothing better. I will be their God, and they shall be my people, is expressly the blessing, in which both covenants terminate."
"The promises of the Sinai covenant involved life." "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose Kfe, that both thou and thy seed may live"-"For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life." Deut. xxx, 19, and xxxii, 47. "The promises of the new covenant involve the same thing." John xiv, 19. "Because I live, ye shall live also."
After all, certain writers say, 'that between these covenants there is an essential difference,' and the argument produced is this: In every place, in which the promises of the Sinai covenant are mentioned, they have the conditional term, if? Nothing was absolutely engaged. Obedience to the law, was the condition upon which the fulfilment of the promises was suspended. This obedience was not secured by the promise. Therefore nothing was secured absolutely. Lisobed ence left the covenantees just where the uncovenanted world stands." - Answer:
1. That the Sinai covenant and the covenant of grace, are essentially the same, will appear from the accounts given of the covenant transactions between God, and the people of Israel.
See the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus. "And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen, unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do and
they, who obey not the new covenant, are left in the same unhappy condition, as they are left, who obey not the Sinai covenant. And the covenant of redemption only secures obedience to God's elect. And when God is pleased to put obedience of the Sinai covenant into their hearts, they stand upon the same Rock, as those, who, in the day of God's power, are made to obey the new covenant. To make a strait path, we must distinguish between the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace.
In not making distinctions where we ought, we are led to make them where we ought not.
As soon as the Sinai law or covenant is put in the inward parts, and written in the heart, it immediately becomes the new covenant. The whole difference, then, between them is, the one is written upon a stone, and the other upon the heart. A law is the same whether it be written upon parchment or upon common paper. "Legal Jews," and Christian Genties treating it differently, does not destroy its identity.
The conditions of the covenant of redemption are essentially different from the conditions of the covenant of grace. Christ's atonement comprehends the conditions of the one; but, the "receiving of the atonement" comprehends the conditions of the other.
Atonement is the work of Christ: and the receiving of it is the fruit of the Spirit. The whole work is of grace. "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ." If, then, any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, because he is a subject of the new covenant.
Even the covenant of grace is an old, and, to us an unavailing covenant, until the Sinai law be written upon the heart. The covenant of grace will profit men nothing, if the conditions of it be not performed. "What" then "shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" I do not mean by this that a sinner must perform the conditions of the covenant of grace, or obey the Gospel, in order to his conversion; for God can consistently convert a sinner without his, previously performing any condition: but in order to salvation the sinner must perform the condition. For they who obey not the Gospel shall be destroyed with everlasting destruction.
be obedient. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said. Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words."
Thus it appears that God made a covenant with the people of Israel; and they promised universal obedience to all the commands, contained in this covenant Similar transactions we have recorded in the twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy. This day the Lord thy God bath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken to his voice. And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldst keep his commandments." It is evident that if the children of Israel fulfilied their engagements, God would be their God, and make them his peculiar people. The covenant engagements were mutual. "God as much avouched them to be his people, as they avouched him to be their God." So says Moses, The Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee. Accordingly, God saith in Exodus, nineteenth chapter, "Now, therefore, if will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant; then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. In various other places of Scripture, God styles himself their God." "When God promises to be a God to a person or people, he means to comprise in the promise all spiritual blessings;" that is, all the blessings of the covenant of grace. For no covenant can contain more than all spiritual blessings. We have no account of any covenant in the Bible, which contains promises more precious, or blessings more rich and abundant. The following passages of Scripture, 1 conclude, contain all the blessings of the covenant of
grace: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son?" And the apostle gives the same turn to another divine promise. Speaking of the pious patriarchs, "If," says he, "they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out they might have had opportunity to have returned: but now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly. Wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
What more then do we find required in the covenant of grace, than we find required and promised in the Sinai covenant? Will God grant greater or better things to those who comply with the conditions of the covenant of grace, than to those who comply with the conditions of the Sinai covenant? Can God promise any thing more, than, that he will love those who love him, and that he will be their God, and finally take them to himself, to a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? He cannot. But all these blessings are promised to those who do the commandments contained in the Sinai covenant; it is, therefore, evident that these covenants are essentially the same. The covenant of grace, it is certain, cannot contain more or greater blessings than the Sinai covenant; for God has promised to those who obey the Sinai covenant, that he will be their God; and this promise comprehends all good.
Perhaps some may object and say, that the Sinai covenant cannot be the same as the covenant of grace, because the terms of that covenant and the things required in it, are beyond the power of man to perform. In answering this objection, there is no difficulty. The Sinai covenant requires nothing which is more difficult to perform than the covenant of grace. The objector says that the covenant of grace requires faith int the Mediator. And is it not as far beyond the power of man, to exercise faith in Christ, as to exercise love to God? Love to God is as truly within the reach of man as saving faith. We can no more come to Christ