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Christian Baptism, &c.
ON THE COVENANTS. A COVENANT is an agreement between two or more persons or parties, in which some. thing is to be done by both, that neither should be injured, and the one, or the other, or both receive a real good. And such covenant when ratified is binding on the parties till one or the other fails of performing his part, or violates the articles of agreement.
After such agreement is broken by the one party, the other party is no longer held, and may treat the violator as though no covenant had ever existed between them, or according to the penalty annexed to the violation, This may serve as a general definition of a cove. nant according to the usage of the term in the sacred scriptures, as will appear on examination, Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant which secured to each certain rights, which being ratified was mutually binding, till by the one or the other it should be transgressed, after which the innocent should be freed from his engagement, and the guilty forfeit the good to which he had been entitled, and incur the evil merited by transgression.
The parties covenanting may be equal or unequal, as the case may be circumstanced. The good arising from such covenant, may be more on the one side than on the other, and the per. formance of the parties greater or less, according to their relative standing and ability of act. ing. But whatever diversity there may be in the parties covenanting, yet if each fulfils his stipulated agreement, which is supposed alike reasonable and binding, then each is entitled to the favor from the other as provided and expressed in the covenant itself.
To say nothing of covenants existing amongst men of which the bible gives account, there are: three covenants recorded in scripture, which, though distinct from each other, are yet superiar to all other covenants, arising from the characters concerned and the objects embraced. These covenants, by divines, have been distinguished from each other, and very justly, by different names expressive of the different parties or persons concerned in them and the several grounds on which they are predicated.
The covenant of redemption, which is the foundation of the recovering of fallen sinners from ruin to the favor of God, existed from eternity in the mind of the ever-blessed Trinity. The covenant of works was made by God and existed between himself and our first parents in their state of moral rectitude before the fall. The covenant of grace, founded on the covenant of redemption, was revealed immediately subsequent to the apostasy of Adam and exists be. tween God and all who are united to Christ by faith,
The covenant of redemption is that divine conomy in the mind of the sacred Three, in which the persons of the God-head, according to infi. nite wisdom and council, agreed to perform, severally, certain office work in the redemption of fallen men. God the father, the law giver and first person in the Trinity was to delegate the Son to take into mysterious union with himself a human soul and body, and become a mediator and substitute for sinners, that a way might be opened for their restoration to divine favor.... Christ, the second person in the Trinity, was voluntarily to accept his appointment, and endure the curse due to sinners, that they, through him, might be pardoned and saved.
The Holy Ghost was to apply the benefits of Christ's expiatory death to the hearts of sinners, and by his special influence prepare the elect of God, for the kingdom of eternal glory. In this covenant the Father stipulates with the Son, that in consideration of his sufferings he should have a seed to serve him, from this undone world, who should be to the praise of the glory of his grace. Upon the Son's accepting his appointment, and of. fering the price of redemption in shedding his own blood, he should be entitled to all the Father had given him, to be justified, sanctified and made eternally glorious in the kingdom of heaven a. bove. Respecting such a covenant in the mind of the divine Trinity, the scriptures are full and explicit. I will mention a few passages which are in point to the case.
«. Yet it pleased the Father to bruise him. He hath put him to grief. When thou shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the trave!
of his soul, and shall be satisfied. By his knowl. edge, shall my righteous servant justify many : for he shall bear their iniquities. I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death." The Father also pledges the Son those succours necessary to the all important work of redemption.
My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. Also I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will. I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” The Son on his part asșents to the covenant. „Lo, I come : in the vol. ume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God.” Refering to the same covenant, Christ said ; « all that the father hath given me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.
Thine they were and thou gavest them me ; and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.'
The tenor of the covenant of works with our first parents in innocency, was, that if they obeyed God, they should enjoy his favor. Obedience was to secure happiness, disobedience was to forfeit it and incur ruin. In this covenant there was no promise from God pledging him. self to enable Adam to obey. He was made.no. ly, and if he continued so, he was to enjoy life and happiness. This is properly called a covenant of works, because works were the condi. tion on which the issue was suspended.
The covenant of grace differs from the covenani of works. It contains a promise of good to beliey. ers, beyond their personal deserts. On the creature's exercising faith in Christ, bis salvation be. ..comes sure. Asfaith is the gift of God, and all sub. sequent holiness is from him, so on the part of God, the covenant is wholly a gracious one. It bestows good, not only where there is no claim, but where evil is due.
It is very true, that since the fall, all favors confered on the wicked world are of mere mercy. Through mercy, and that alone, they, are kept from instantly enduring the curse of the divine law, which is the just demerit of their guilt. The wicked being thus respited by God's forbearance, does not imply, however, they belong to the covenant of grace in the sense in which believers belong to the covenant of grace. They have no promise from God, of future good. Whereas, believers being in the covenant of grace, have a sure promise that God will be their portion forever. Since the fall of Adain, there has been no other covenant existing between God and men, except the covenant of grace. All who are not in this covenant, are yet under the
The covenant of works was broken and ended by Adam's transgression, so that from this covenant salvation becomes forever impracticable, The covenant of works and the covenant of grace, have never been capable of giving life, at one and the same time. The covenant of grace is founded on the covenant of redemption, and its blessings are secured to believers by God's infallible promise. Every necessary supply of body and mind, for time and eternity are herein confirmed. * As it is written, I will never leave thee norforsake thee. ANI