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disannul, that it should make the promise of none
Here observe, that the Apostle does 'vot only distinguish between the Abrahamic covenant, and the covenant at Sinai, expressly declaring that the abolition of the latter does not effect the existence of the former; but he positively asserts, that the covenant made with Abraham was confirmed in Christ, the Mediator of the covenant of grace, and, of course, that the Abrahamic covenant is substantially the saine with the covenant of grace. For this same truth the Apostle contends in bis Epistle to the Romans :f “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” If this be not a recognition of the covenant of grace, and of the benefits it confers, we shall be at a loss to find a trace of the covenant of grace in any part of the inspired volume.
But let us turn to the covenant ítself, as described by Moses, and see whether, in the very terms of the covenant, there is not the most satisfactory evidence of its gracious character. Its grand promise is, “ I will be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”I Here God, unconditionally, makes himself over 10 Abraham, and his spiritual seed, in all the plenitude of his perfections and grace, so far as is necessary to the happiness of an intelligent creature.— I will be thy God, and I will be the God of thy seed. But
* Gal. jjj. 17.
* Rom. iv. 13, 16.
van God, the holy God, against whom we all have sinned-Can God, I ask, make such engagements to any member of the human family, irrespective of the covenant of grace, and the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ? If so; then away with the covenant of grace, and the mediation of Christ : they are both unnecessary.--While I reverence the superior piety of Abraham, I am not disposed to yield the point, that he could be saved independently of the covenant of grace, and the mediation of Christ, any more than I can! If he could get to heaven without Christ, and the well-ordered covenant, so can I ; and so can you. But depend upon it, reader, Abraham does not thank the man, who would represent God as becoming his God in any other than a way of grace. Every such attempt he views as an injury done to the God of his salvation, and as an unholy interference with the song of praise which he unceasingly raises before the throne of God and the Lamb—“Grace, grace unto it!” The reformer Luther frequently observed, " I will have nothing to do with an absolute God.” And the uniform representations, made by scripture, of God's holiness and justice, teach us to believe, that all negotiations and intercourse between the righteous God and fallen man must be conducted on principles of grace
mercy. The covenant with Abraham must therefore have been a dispensation of the covepant of
grace. But some may urge, as an objection to this view of the Abrahamic covenaut, that it evidently in
eluded temporal benefits. The promise of a nume. gous posterity; the land of Canaan for a possession, &c. were a part of this covenant. We readily admit the fact without, however, consenting to the use designed to be made of it. Does the promise of temporal blessings destroy, or in the least interfere with, the gracious charac!er of the Abrabainic covenant? Alinit this, and away goes the covenant of grace, root and branch! We have been taught to view the covenant of grace as a merciful arrangement, for the glory of God, in the happiness of man, and adapted in all its parts to the condition and circumstances of ioan; making provision for the present life, as a state of preparatioa; as well as for the life to come, as the state of perfect enjoyment. If we have correctly understood our bible, the promise “ Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be gure,"* is an important part of the covenant of grace. And full confident am 1 that the Apostle did not consider himself as tarnishing the glory of the covepant of grace, when he made ihis assertion, “ Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”+ But if this iuspired Apostle happened to be mistaken-surely the Great Teacher, come from God, hinsell the Mediator of the covenant of grace, could Bot have been mistaken as to the provisions of that covenant, when he said, “ Lut seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things (tood, raiment, &c.) shall be added 'unio * Jsa. xxxiii. 16.
ji T'iu. iv. 8.
you."* Temporal blessings are, then, a part of the covenant of grace; and the circuinstance thai the Abrahainic covenant included temporal benefits, so far from militating against its gracious character, furnishes new evidence of the correctness of our assertion, that it was a particular exhibition of the covenant of grace.
2. The covenant, made with Abraham, requires holiness of heart and practice. This remark, indeed, is no more than a fair and legitimate inference from the fact we have just established. The great design of the covenant of grace is to glorify the perfections of Jehovah, in the salvation of man. But the perfections of Jehovah cannot be honoured, if mau be saved in any other than a way of holiness. “ Without holiness no one can see the Lord.”+ The subjects of electing love were “ from the beginning chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth."| The subjects of effectual calling have been “called not unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”||*And one of the leading directions of the gospel is, “ As he which hath called you is holy; so be ye also holy in all manner of conversation : Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Sanctification or holiness is, then, one of the leading benefits of the covenant of grace; for this it makes provision, and this it always confers on the
* Mat. vi. 33.
† Heb. xii. 14. 1 2 Thess. ii. 18. $1 Thess. iv. 7.
$ 1 Pet. i. 15, 16.
Heirs of glory, as an indispensable prerequisite to heavenly felicity.
The Abrahamic covenant, too, demands sanctification. Its grand term is “ Walk before me, and be tbou perfect."* This command evidently implies reconciliation with God, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. “ For how can two walk together, except they be agreed ?" It implies the sincere exercise of repentance for sin, together with a life of holy and persevering obedience to the divine law. In one word, it requires that the subject should be a
new creature, created in Christ Jesus unto good works;" having the understanding enlightened, the heart sanctified, and the practice regulated by the grace of God.
This is what the covenant made with Abraham demands, as necessary to a real interest in its benefits; and all who are possessed of these high and holy qualifications shall experience a happy fulfilment of all its promises in their largest extent. God will be their God forever and ever; their guide unto death; and their portion beyond the grave.
But while real holiness is necessary to secure an interest in the benefits of this covenant; visible holiness is all that can be demanded to give a title to the privileges of this covenant, so far as the administration of them is committed to men. Men cannot search the heart, and God never designed that the officers of his church should sit in judgment on the state of the heart. Acquaintance with the doctrines * Ver. 1.
† Amos iii. 3.