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mistakewe need all the support and all the direction which the revelation of God can supply. By studying the prophecies I find, that in this crisis the Lord shall manifest himself in an extraordinary way, and simultaneously accomplish many most important events; the chief of which are these : - 1. the Papacy shall be broken down; 2. the people of Israel shall be restored; 3. all the enemies of Christ shall be destroyed; 4. the second advent of our Lord shall take place; 5. his millennial reign shall commence; 6. and at some period during the progress of these events, which begin with the destruction
of Babylon and run on to the commencement of the Millennium, the first resurrection shall take place. All these events are so closely bound together in Scripture, that, treating of any one, you can scarcely avoid bringing in all the rest; and, fixing any one of them to a particular time, you do thereby fix all the others, each to its own time: for Babylon's destruction frees Israel-Christ's enemies gather against Israel when restored—He in person destroys his enemies—when he thus cometh, his risen saints are with him and the destruction of his enemies ushers in his millennial reign of peace and joy.
These events, even when considered only in their relation to ourselves as men, are vast and important : but when we consider them as the consummation of that great purpose of God, for the manifestation of which the creation was called into being; and that the several changes and revolutions in things visible have been only different developments of this purpose, and successive steps advancing nearer and nearer to this glorious consummation; it is then, and then only, that we feel all the dignity and importance of the age in which we live ; and, according to our several characters of apprehension, of hope, of admiration, of daring, of high emprise, are irresistibly impelled, and eagerly resort to those prophetic records whence alone we can ascertain the signs of the forthcoming events, or learn to direct our course. One of these events has been especially singled out by God as that which shall most peculiarly redound to his glory among men: he has even condescended to represent himself as receiving joy and honour in its accomplishment; has staked thereon his own veracity; and pledged himself thereto with a vehemency of asseveration which I cannot find employed for any other purpose throughout the whole Scripture-namely, the restoration of the Jews : “ I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return......Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good ; and I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” (See Jer. xxiii. and xxxii.)
ON THE NEW COVENANT.
(Jer. xxxi. 31; Heb. viii. 8. 13.) The difficulties which have been found to exist upon the subject of the Old and New Covenants, and the consequent discrepancy of opinion among divines, I plead as my excuse for bringing forward the following observations, although the responsibility attached to it be great.
If Witsius felt such sacred awe in treating this subject, when his view had the support of the church in general, what should I feel, in bringing forward views that have the direct support of few ?—though I shall adduce the collateral evidence of many.
But, on the other hand, if it has pleased the Lord, in these latter times, by the foolish things of this world to reveal a truth more simple; more in accordance with the word; and in a manner which removes the necessity of doing violence to the sacred oracles (of which all the present interpretations appear to be more or less guilty); then does an awful responsibility attach to those who, stumbling at the instrument the Lord may use, should reject without inquiry opinions which may be consonant with the truth.
I attribute the confusion, or indistinctness, on this subject, to not attaching definite and separate ideas to the two forms in which God conveys his benefits to man; both being rendered by one and the same Greek word, diatheké (duaOnkn).
I first received my ideas, not simply from the word diatheké, but the coherence of the text in the different parts of Scripture where it occurs; and thereby I perceived, that what is predicated of diatheké in Heb. ix. 16 “ For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator”), requires the rendering to be testament; whereas, in ch. viii. ver. 8 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,” &c.), it is equally necessary to render it by covenant. Thus, having once clearly perceived that there were both covenants and testaments mentioned, I was next led to observe a fallacy in the general mode of treating the subject.
I will, first, lay down my position; that those who read this treatise may be better able to scrutinize what I wish to establish; which I will also shew to be in a great measure supported by received authorities.
I will, secondly, lay down what appears to be the Scriptural distinction between covenant and testament. In doing which, I will mention every place where the word diatheké is used in the New Testament, and fix the rendering of each passage by only one of the words, testament or covenant, as the sense of the context may require.
I will, thirdly, consider the single place in the Old Testament, with its quotation in the New, where the term “new” is added to covenant."
And, lastly, I will compare some places in the Old, with their parallels in the New Testament, where a future covenant is mentioned, which evidently appears the same new covenant.
And may the Lord give grace to liis church to prove all things and hold fast only that which is good ; and prevent his servant from handling the word of the Lord deceitfully, or wrest
the Scripture to his own destruction ! 1. My position is, that we are not under the new, but the old, covenant—that is, the Abrahamic covenant. We are under A new dispensation, in opposition to the former dispensations ; and we are under the new testament, in opposition to the old, or Mosaic, testament, which was the symbolic acting of prospective faith : but the new covenant is still future.
God's covenant with Abraham before Christ's advent, is the covenant we are now under, though diverse in its circumstances or accidents : before Christ, there was a looking forward to conditions to be performed; whereas during the present dispensation there is a looking back to the conditions which have been performed.
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that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers; and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom. xv. 8.) “ To perform the mercy (promised) to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he sware unto our father Abraham.” (Luke i. 72.)
Christ completed the conditions of the covenant on his part: thereby he freed the old covenant from the super-addition of the Mosaic testament, with the curse of the Law, and left the Abrahamic covenant as his testament. " Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law,....that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through him.” (Gal. iii. 13, 14.) The condition of the covenant of imputed righteousness was, that it should become a testament-namely, “ that by means of death....they which are (or have been) called, might receive the promise of eternal life.” (Heb. ix. 15.)
This is the outline of my view.
I have now to shew from the opinions of others that we are not under a covenant distinct from the Abrahamic, but only a different administration of the same covenant. Dr. Owen is the first writer I shall.cite; not only because his authority is great, but because his arguments are strong.
“ Here then,” says he, " ariseth a difference of no small importance-namely, whether there are indeed two distinct covenants, as to the essence and substance of them; or only different ways of the dispensation and administration of the same covenant. And the reason of the difficulty lieth herein: we must grant one of these three things :
“ 1. That either the covenant of grace was in force under the Old Testament; or,
“ 2. That the church was saved without it, or without any benefit by Jesus Christ, who is the Mediator of it alone; or,
“ 3. That they all perished everlastingly. And neither of the two latter can be admitted.
“Suppose, then, that this (new) covenant of grace was extant and effectual under the Old Testament, so as the church was saved by virtue hereof, and the mediation of Christ herein; how could it be that there should at the same time be another covenant between God and them, of a different nature from this, accompanied with other promises and other effects?”
I must here observe, that, according to the position laid down above, the covenant of which he is speaking is not the new ; that being the question in agitation. Nor can the covenant of grace be any distinction, because all covenants between God and the
ure must be of mere grace : this I shall shew from Owen hereafter. But, as by the expression, “this new covenant of grace,” the present dispensation is intended, it does not affect the point he is urging, so I will pass on to the method which he takes to remove the objection.
« On this consideration it is said that the two covenants mentioned, the new and the old, were not indeed two distinct covenants as to their essence and substance, but only different administrations of the same covenant. Called two covenants, from some different outward solemnities and duties of worship attending them. To clear this, it must be observed,
“1. That by the old covenant, the original covenant of works made with Adam, and all mankind in him, is not intended; for this is undoubtedly a covenant differing in the essence and substance of it from the new.
2. By the new covenant, not the new covenant absolutely and originally, as given in the first promise, is intended; but in its complete Gospel administration, when it was actually established by the death of Christ, as administered in and by the ordinances of the New Testament. This, with the covenant of Sinai, were, as most say, but different administrations of the same covenant. “ But, on the other hand, there is such express mention made,
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not only in this, but in syndry other places of the Scripture also, of two distinct covenants or testaments; and such different natures, properties, and effects ascribed to them, as seem to constitute two distinct covenants.”_Owen on Heb. viii. 6. Vol. vi. p. 82.
Thus Owen's method of overcoming the difficulty is, by opposing the old covenant in its New-Testament form, to the same covenant in its Old-Testament form.
Roberts, holding the same fallacy, says: “ This covenant, being another and a very diverse covenant, both from the old covenant and from all that went before—not in substance, but in circumstance ; not in essence, but in accidents ; not in inward constitution, but in outward administration-is called a NEW COVENANT.”- Roberts's Mystery and Marrow, p. 1255.
This, undoubtedly, is the preferable of the two common ways of treating it. Upon the supposition of there being radically but one covenant, testament and covenant must then be synonimous, or the thing signified must partake of the nature of both: as expressed by Roberts, “they are fæderal testaments, or testamentary covenants." (Roberts, p. 1262.) I must add the reason he assigns for the present New Testament being called the second covenant: “ Seeing (says he) the Sinai covenant was not the first.....nor is the new covenant the second after the Sinai covenant”.....but. “ because they are the first and most illustrious covenants; although, in regard of time and order of discovery, the old covenant was not precisely the first, nor this new the second." His second reason is more to my purpose :
The Greek word, Diatheké, translated covenant in Heb. viii. 6, 7, alleged for this denomination, may also as well be rendered testament ; for if the first testament had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second;' and thus the same Greek word is often translated testament; and then the difficulty is easily removed. For these two covenants being the only testamental covenants, the old covenant was the first testament, and the new covenant was the second testament.”
Witsius says, book iii. ch. ii. “ If we view the substance of the covenant, it is but one only; nor is it possible it should be otherwise..... But if we attend to the circumstances of the covenant, it was dispensed at sundry times and in divers manners; under various economies, for the manifestation of the manifold wisdom of God.'” After proving this at some length, he concludes : “ To sum up the whole then, in short: the Apostle here, Acts xv.11, declares three things : 1st, that the fathers were saved : 2dly, by the very same covenant that we are: 3dly, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ : intimating likewise, by all this reasoning, that there can possibly be but one way of salvation.”